2012 Bill Kennedy Medal – Judy King

The award in 2012 is given to Judy King, a person who represents everything a public school educator should be: a fierce advocate, a passionate teacher, an exceptional Principal and a leader committed to advancing public education. Judy has also worked across regions, as a leader in professional and industrial associations, in teacher education at university level and at high levels in curriculum development, influencing the direction of education in this state for four decades. As a History Inspector with the Board of Studies, she fought fiercely for a progressive, high quality and liberal history curriculum against aggressive politicians, mad shock jocks and timid bureaucrats.

However, it is for her outstanding leadership and work on behalf of secondary, central school and secondary SSP principals that this award is given. As a secondary school principal appointed in 1992 at Beacon Hill HS, Judy began her 15 years work as secretary, Board of Studies representative and NSWSPC. She served as secretary of the NSWSPC in the time Jim Harkin was president and went on to guide the work of three other presidents formally and two more after her retirement. Her attention to detail and ability to deconstruct the control agenda on behalf of colleagues proved to be a formidable asset to the organisation. She supported colleagues and was always available to share her expertise and knowledge.

In 1995, Judy took up the position as principal of Riverside Girls High School, a school that was within the then safe seat of the Federal member, John Howard. She can, in no small measure, share some accolades for being active in a large community alliance within the electorate of Bennelong on behalf of public education across Australia highlighting the inequity and bias against public education by the Howard Government. At this time she was elected to represent NSW on the newly formed AEU National Principals’ Committee, a position she held for 14 years before standing down at the end of 2009. She is a life member of the NSW Teachers’ Federation, a winner of the Meritorious Service to Public Education Award and a life member of NSWSPC.

In 2002 Judy became one of three deputy-presidents of the NSWSPC, a position she held until mid 2006. In this period of time she worked closely and effectively with other members of the Public Education Alliance, ensuring a united front in advocacy for public education. Within the SPC her persistent maintenance of a “black hole” list of unresolved issues in the DET meant that constant attention would be given to things that mattered to principals and schools. She was always ready to go on the front foot in media commentary on public education issues, regardless of any personal consequences. Both inside and outside the DET she could frame, and would ask, the questions that others might miss or avoid. She would combine this with an unfailing courtesy that made her a formidable ally for principals in a never-ending consultation process.

Judy maintained close contact with the membership of the NSWSPC, always ready to listen to members and always responded to concerns coming in from all over NSW. Her support was available well into the wee hours following every working day. As much as anything else this sustained collaboration and communication maintained the confidence of far-flung members of the NSWSPC in the executive.

Judy has instigated and supported SPC campaigns enthusiastically, promoting public education and ensuring that the media was aware of what were the real issues affecting public schools, especially secondary schools. Whether it was at an SPC meeting, Board of Studies meeting, school meeting, community forum, a state IRC witness box or a national television program, Judy has represented the NSWSPC and profession by speaking out against injustice to any and every politician or bureaucrat who failed to put public education first.

In recent years she has failed retirement by returning to lecture, work for the union and work with vulnerable students and young teachers in western Sydney.

For these reasons, and for many more, we are proud to present the redoubtable Judy King with the 2012 Bill Kennedy Medal.

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