Macquarie Primary School Teacher Amanda Hawkins.

Macquarie Primary School Teacher Amanda Hawkins. Photo: Jay Cronan

Thirty-year-old Canberra teacher Amanda Hawkins never went into the profession for the money.

But the Canadian-born educator has been identified as one of the best in the city, and she and 20 colleagues will see their salaries break the $100,000 mark as the government next month finalises the applications of a total of 21 Executive Teachers (Professional Practice).

The successful applicants – all from ACT Government schools - will be the first classroom-based teachers to earn six figures as opposed to executive teachers who are promoted into administration and school management.

“For me it is an ideal path because my heart and my passion is my kids in the classroom,” Ms Hawkins said.

The daughter of a teacher and the holder of a degree in Communications as well as Education, Ms Hawkins teaches a combined 5-6 class at Macquarie Primary. Her new role will require her to take the lead in mentoring two first-year teachers at Macquarie as well as co-teach with other staff and lead professional development at the school.

Ms Hawkins brings enthusiasm and energy to each lesson, and in her six-year career has already been singled out for teaching excellence awards.

She considers teaching more of a vocation than a profession.

Last year Ms Hawkins was certified as a highly accomplished teacher through the Teacher Quality Institute. Her principal then approached her about applying for further promotion.

“It was a pretty intensive process. We had to create a portfolio of our work and annotate it and reflect critically on the impact we made on student learning and growth and development, as well as examples of our leadership within the profession.”

Candidates were then selected to be observed in the classroom before a final interview.

“I felt really proud when it was finished, but then I also think all of my colleagues also work really hard, long hours, through the school holidays and at weekend. I think we all deserve greater recognition for the hard work we put in.”

While the six-figure salary for classroom teachers was an ambition of former Education Minister Andrew Barr, the current minister Joy Burch said the idea made perfect sense as a way to raise the status of the profession and reward excellence.

The 2011-2012 ACT Budget allocated $11.8 million over four years to implement the new classification as well as accelerate incremental advancement for teachers demonstrating outstanding performance.

Ms Burch said “By investing in our teachers and enhancing the attractiveness of teaching as a profession, the ACT Labor Government is ensuring that our public schools remain the best in Australia.”

The Government wanted to send a clear message to the teaching profession and families that quality teaching was highly regarded, and career progression for teachers should not mean leaving the classroom.

“The labour market is competitive and career changes are a normal part of a professional life, so we need to make sure we can attract and retain the best teachers Australia has to offer,” Ms Burch said.