“I look out for the left out.”

These are the words of the Griffith University student who has just won the inaugural Australian College of Educators/Australian Scholarships Group award for her essay Educators on the edge…Of what?

“I always look for those students whose needs aren’t being met,’’ says Rachael Heritage, who is studying aBachelor of Primary Education.

Her essay describes the apparent emphasis on attaining good grades in schools often to the detriment of learning for the enjoyment of learning.

“As educators on the edge, we need to shift the focus from marks to exciting, meaningful and lasting learning,’’ she writes.

“We need to encourage confident and creative individuals and promote active and informed citizens so one day they may stand confidently on an edge of their own.”

Rachael puts this philosophy into practice when on pre-service teaching placements.

“I love it when kids get how to do something. It’s an amazing experience to see them learn how to do or understand things.”

As dux of her secondary school and an avid netball player, coach and musician, Rachael was always surrounded by high-achieving peers.

“I didn’t have much experience with those students who had difficulties with learning until I started my degree.

“Now as a teacher, I want my students to have a better life experience. Education has the ability to inspire far beyond the here and now of the classroom.”

Griffith University mathematics education lecturer Dr Kevin Larkin said Rachael richly deserved to win the ACE Student Educators award.

“Rachael continually demonstrated, during two core mathematics education courses, that she clearly understood the critical role that she will one day play in educating the next generation of Australian citizens,’’ he said.

“In particular, she understood the importance of an approach to education that would engender deep, sustained and meaningful learning for her students. I am thrilled that Rachael’s dedication to her own learning has been recognised by ACE.”

Rachael will receive her award and present her paper at the ACE National Conference in Brisbane on September 24 and 25.