Trent Heneker receives top state educator award

TOP GONG: Trent Heneker relishes in promoting his school after receiving a state accolade, with wife Tania Schrapel by his side. Photo: Supplied
TOP GONG: Trent Heneker relishes in promoting his school after receiving a state accolade, with wife Tania Schrapel by his side. Photo: Supplied

First day back for the last school term of 2019 had Nuriootpa high staff member Trent Heneker buzzing from the heart-felt "razzing" he received from students and peers.

It was a result of the hands-on facilities and grounds officer being congratulated for winning the 'School and Preschool' accolade at the SA Public Education Awards on Friday evening.

Yet as the humbled Tanunda resident pointed out, the hand-held award means much more than its physical appearance.

"I am rapt and totally blown away...but for me it means promoting this great school and supporting the students," the former 1990s pupil said.

Mr Heneker's role is responsible for primarily beautifying the school's extensive grounds, on the corner of Penrice and Murray streets, through landscape projects.

The extension of his skills means he regularly engages with students with disability to undertake light landscaping work.

"It enables them to take risks, it builds their confidence and enables them to socialise," Mr Heneker shared.

His inclusive approach enables him to host an environment group open to mainstream students who join him during the mornings to tend to plants on school site.

In addition, the mentor is paired with students who he explains do not necessarily fit the classroom set up, spending time together to carry out light gardening work.

And the well-known Barossa musician, connected with bands such as Colonel Mustard and Free Genie, extends his musical repertoire as drummer and singer to the school's music unit which includes joining professional tours.

Selected from an original nominated pool of 30 educators statewide in 10 awards, Mr Heneker was fortunate to be handed $10,000.

The funds will be put towards professional development with Mr Heneker focused on completing a Youth Work Diploma and Certificate 4 and 5 in Training and Assessment.

With wife Tania and three children thrilled of his win, Mr Heneker added, "My son Jude wanted me to spend the money on rulers and pencil sharpeners," he laughed.