Catholic Education Awards: Blackfriars teacher, old scholar honoured

Blackfriars teacher Joseph Burford has been named Early Career Teacher of the Year (Secondary) at the Catholic Education Awards South Australia.

Mr Burford – who came to Blackfriars in 2022 and was this year was appointed Leader of Learning (Mathematics) – was honoured for his “unwavering commitment to Catholic education and the extraordinary outcomes that can be achieved through the impact of such commitment”.

“I am honoured and deeply grateful to be acknowledged as a recipient of this award … it is incredibly humbling to be recognised among these talented educators,” Mr Burford said at last night’s awards ceremony.

“I’m really lucky to be able to feed off the curiosity and resilience and enthusiasm of our students, which keeps me really motivated to keep making a positive impact on their learning and development into adulthood.

“As I accept this award, I am also reminded of the immense responsibility and privilege that comes with being an educator. I am committed to continue to strive for excellence, to inspire, to empower and to make a positive difference in the lives of my students and the wider community.”

Deputy Principal Brett Knowles, Early Career Teacher of the Year Joseph Burford and Principal David Ruggiero at the Catholic Education Awards.

Deputy Principal Brett Knowles said Mr Burford “epitomised the transformative power of dedication, innovation and an unwavering commitment to fostering an environment of academic excellence and holistic development”.

“Joseph’s approach to education is rooted in the belief that learning should be an engaging, interactive process that not only imparts knowledge, but also instils a lifelong passion for discovery and intellectual curiosity,” said Mr Knowles, who, with Principal David Ruggiero, nominated Mr Burford for the award.

“His innovative teaching methods have significantly enhanced the learning experience for students, making complex mathematical concepts accessible and enjoyable.”

Mr Burford’s impact at Blackfriars went beyond the classroom, including as manager of the 1st XVIII football team.

“Joseph’s proactive engagement with the wider community … has strengthened the bonds between the school and the community it serves,” Mr Knowles said.

“His commitment to excellence is evident in the marked improvement in student engagement, achievement and the overall elevation of the mathematics department’s profile within the school and the broader educational community.”

Old scholar honoured

Meanwhile, Blackfriars old scholar Paul Belton (BPS’75) was last night presented with the Leadership Excellence Award.

The current St Paul’s College Principal, who will retire at the end of 2024, returned to Blackfriars in 1980 as a teacher.

Mr Belton was Blackfriars’ Head Prefect in 1975. His son, Matthew Belton, was Head Prefect at Blackfriars in 1997.

Paul Belton, centre, with his brother John and son Matt.

Catholic Education Awards

The Catholic Education Awards South Australia – which are celebrated as part of Catholic Education Week (13-19 May) – recognise staff and volunteers across the state’s more than 100 Catholic schools.

“These awards recognise those whose efforts are beyond the already high standards of education and care delivered by all those involved in Catholic education,” Catholic Education SA said.

“Through such commitment, these people will have made a difference in the lives of students or others with whom they come into contact as they carry out their responsibilities in Catholic education.”

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