Former Gunnedah resident Natasha Densley (now Appleyard) was named Student of the Year at the recent Atwea Values in Education Awards at Newcastle Civic Hall.

The daughter of Michael and Karen Densley, now of Halliday’s Point, Karen came to Gunnedah with her family in 1995.

She attended Gunnedah South Public School, Somerton Public School and St Xavier’s before completing her senior years at St Mary’s College for Years 7 to 10 and Gunnedah High for Years 11 and 12.

Five years ago, Natasha was diagnosed with a neurological disorder called Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension. This condition mimics a brain tumor without there being one and can cause blindness, severe migraines and many other issues.

Now the mother of three children, Dakoda (12), Oliver (8) and Harrison (2), Natasha moved to the Forster-Tuncurry area six years ago.

“I have always been passionate about the beauty industry and when I saw that Atwea College was offering a diploma in beauty therapy, I took this as a sign to pursue my dreams,” Natasha said.

“On August 18, I graduated with a diploma and also received the Excellence Award.

“It was an honour to find out that I had been nominated for an Atwea values in education award but I was unaware what I had been nominated for.

“On September 7, I attended the awards dinner at Newcastle City Hall, where I received the Atwea Student of the Year award.”

Also nominated for awards were former St Mary’s College students Samantha Hobson (now Hillier) and James Riley who both teach at Alesco Senior College North Lakes in Newcastle.

Formerly Workers Educational Association – Hunter, Atwea is one of the largest providers of community-based adult learning in NSW and Alesco Senior College is a part of Atwea College.

Alesco is a registered and accredited, non-government independent school specifically designed for the inclusion engagement of young people who are struggling to find success in a traditional school setting.

James and Samantha both graduated from the University of Newcastle and after teaching in various locations for the past 17 years, they are now working together at Alesco. Although thrilled with their own nominations, they were delighted to see two of their Year 12 students receive major awards. The students have also received advice of early entry into university.

Both agree that they have the ‘best teaching job ever’. They love the challenge of drawing out the best in their students and the relaxed timetable, which allows them to engage in innovative teaching practices to ensure their charges are enjoying their learning experience.

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