Conducted by EducationHQ and Australian Teacher Magazine, the awards aim to shine a light on teachers who go above and beyond without a word of complaint, who fly under the radar, who steer clear of the spotlight and see their exceptional work as being “all in the line of duty”. 

Here are the five nominees for the Italian Teacher category, proudly supported by Il Globo and La Fiamma.

The winner of the Italian Teacher award will receive a $500 Booktopia gift voucher, thanks to platinum sponsor Corwin, and a $500 cash prize courtesy of Il Globo and La Fiamma to spend on their further professional development.

Get your votes in before Monday, December 9, at 5:00 pm.

Daniela Maitilasso

Kolbe Catholic College, VIC

(Nominated by Jane Wenlock)

Daniela leads the languages department at our school, in an area that is not traditionally one that has a large Italian diaspora. Through her tireless leadership she has promoted the study of Italian so that there are now students completing this as an elective at Years 9 and 10 and as a VCE subject for Years 11 and 12. She has also instigated a program for the Years 7 and 8 students that involve singing as a way for students to remember words and sayings. Other initiatives she has instigated are to ensure all students participate in external Italian competitions and visit Italian restaurants and centres to practise their speaking and understanding of Italian. Daniela has also worked with other subject leaders to integrate Italian through other subjects, culminating in an Italian sports day for Year 8s, in which students and staff played Italian games.

Floriana Torelli

Cairns State High School, QLD

(Nominated by Mara Ballarini)

Floriana teaches various levels of Italian at our school, from Year 7 to senior years. She is the Years 7, 9 and IB 11 ab initio and B standard level coordinator. With the new IB syllabus, she is re-writing all our Italian IB program and assessment. She teaches a combined ab initio and B standard level class, to whom she dedicates lots of extra time for support and extension. She has supported many of her students to participate in the local speaking competition this year, with a few making it to the state finals in Brisbane, and is currently supporting them. She is a wonderful teacher to collaborate with – together we have built all the Italian program at our school from junior years, organising excursions to make learning engaging and relevant. She is our Young Language Ambassador coordinator and as such, manages the students in the group who meet weekly to organise events on a school level amongst other activities. Floriana has also recently started a Latin club upon request of some students and has a good group of keen followers.

Rosa Sfameni

Hume Anglican Grammar, VIC

(Nominated by Robert Tassoni)

Rosa exhibits a commitment and dedication to her Italian students. At Hume Anglican Grammar we have a predominantly Indian student cohort, yet Rosa has managed to engender in our students a real love for the Italian language and culture. Our school is only 12 years old and we have Italian classes across each year level and next year we will have our first Year 12 Italian class. Rosa has also taken the initiative to research and organise the inaugural Italian Study Tour for 2020. This is an amazing achievement for one so young. Whenever Rosa does something, no matter how complex or difficult, she does so without bringing attention to herself and does it out of the goodness of her heart and her love for our students. She supports students in all of their endeavors and  actively seeks to share her passion and love for the Italian language and culture in all of her classes.

Maria Capilli

Dapto High School, NSW

(Nominated by Kelly Mathein)

Mrs Capilli is a nurturing, selfless and dynamic Italian language teacher at Dapto High School. This year, in addition to teaching a full language teaching load and organising a student exchange program to Italy, she stewarded one of the school’s largest Year 12 cohorts through the rigours of their final HSC year. This year was particularly challenging due to one of the group’s pupils passing away in a tragic accident just days before the trial examinations. It was not uncommon to see Maria comforting students in the quadrangle, with both student and teacher overcome with emotion. In addition to counselling the students through this period of grief, Maria encouraged students who were dealing with mental health issues, family breakdown, sickness and sadly passing. No doubt this year would have been incredibly taxing on this wonderful teacher, however, she was always positive, upbeat and available for ALL. She truly is an unsung teaching hero. Maria Capilli is a donna meravigliosa.

Vanessa Paciocco

Fitzroy High School, VIC

(Nominated by Daniel Lodder)

Despite being one of the youngest teachers in the school, Vanessa is one its brightest leaders. She supports and coordinates not only a whole year level, but also an entire subject. Her passion and kind, thoughtful leadership has brought the subject to more students in more meaningful ways. Despite the numerous challenges that language education presents to teachers in Australia, she supports far more than her years would say she can and does so more ably than most.