Television Interview with Sarah Abo and Karl Stefanovic – Today Show – Tuesday 12 September 2023


SUBJECTS: Commonwealth Bank Teaching Awards. 

KARL STEFANOVIC: Well, we know teachers play a huge role in our lives, whether they’re helping us ace our exams or teaching us life lessons.

SARAH ABO: Now, the best of the best have been celebrated at the Commonwealth Bank Teaching Awards, with two Western Sydney teachers, Lien Chai and Matthew Esterman among those who were recognised. And they join us, along with Education Minister Jason Clare. Good to see you guys. Congratulations, of course. Minister, you really can’t understate the impact teachers have on their students, can you?

JASON CLARE, MINISTER FOR EDUCATION: No, you can’t. Think back to when you were young, to when you were five years old. We don’t remember much, but many of us remember our teachers. That shows just how important our teachers are. Apart from Mum and Dad, they have a bigger impact on our life than anyone else. It really is the most important job in the world and that’s why these Awards are so important.

STEFANOVIC: Jason, I remember my teachers giving me a lot of lines at primary school. Awful situation there, like hundreds of them.

CLARE: What did you have to write out, Karl?

STEFANOVIC: I had to write it out. Matthew, you’re no stranger to hard work. How does it feel being acknowledged for all of that hard work given I’m sure you would have had students like me over the years.

MATTHEW ESTERMAN: Oh, no, of course not, Karl. I’ve always had wonderful students in my classes and, no, it’s really just such a privilege for Schools Plus to organise this for us. We’re just not used to this kind of attention and we’re kind of just doing what we do every day, I think, and that’s chatting to the other fellows, that’s pretty much the story, is that we’re all just here doing what we do. And you’ve got a history teacher in Canberra as well, so I’m just stoked to be here.

ABO: It’s very humble of you. I mean, Leanne, I want to come to you because we know just how much of a role teachers play, especially these days. I mean, you’re not just going through the curriculum, you’re there to teach them life lessons as well and take on so much more.

LIEN CHAI: Yes. At our preschool, we use a play-based approach to teach our children. And it’s through play that our children learn to explore, experiment, solve problems and just really learn about the world around them. And I really had a proud moment just the other day when one of my parents sent me a video of her child at the park. But instead of playing, he was actually just spending the whole time picking up rubbish, because we’d been learning about the impact of pollution and you can hear Mum in the background telling him to just, “please stop, go and play”. But his response was, “No, I need to save the planet, the animals will die”. So, really proud that our children are becoming such strong advocates for their environment.

ABO: Yeah, quick thinkers.

STEFANOVIC: It’s such an important role. We send our kids off and you’re such important mentors to them during really important parts of their life. Jason, do you have a favourite teacher?

CLARE: I’ve got a couple, mate. The first thing I did when I got this job, just over a year ago, was go back to my old primary school, Cabramatta Public School, and give Mrs Fry a hug. She started there in 1978 and she’s still there, changing lives. Her husband, Mr Fry, works at Lansvale Public School.

CHAI: Yes. He works with me.

CLARE: Changing lives, too. And a quick shout out to Peter Valenti, my history teacher from Canley Vale High. I haven’t been at school in over 30 years, but we still catch up for lunch every year and he’s an absolute legend.

ABO: That’s awesome.

STEFANOVIC: Wow. Peter Valenti really went on with it too. It’s incredible. Hey, guys, thank you so much. And congratulations on behalf of us. It’s terrific, it’s just a great vocation. And we had a look at so many of you writing into us, thanking their teachers. We’ll get to those a little bit later.