Montessori Academy’s Third Annual Charity Gala Ball was held at Bankstown Sports Club on Friday, 18th November. The event raised over $40,000  for two very important charities, the Dunlea Centre (Australia’s Original Boy’s Town) in Engadine, and Montfort Boys Town in Fiji.

More than 400 people attended the evening, with guests ranging from Montessori Academy staff, to members of the local community, and supporting businesses.

Guest Speakers, Monsignor Brian Rayner, and Paul Mastronardi, Executive Director of the Dunlea Centre, spoke passionately about the hard work of the Dunlea Centre and Montfort Boy’s Town. Both charities work with disadvantaged youth to provide them with welfare, education, social and life skills.

Monsignor Brian Rayner outlined how Montfort Boy’s Town had become integral to the rebuilding efforts after Cyclone Winston in Fiji, with many of the program attendees learning skills or trades. Students have also been given opportunities to take part in leading edge programs to facilitate the country’s fragile economic growth.

Spokesperson for Dunlea Centre, Paul Mastronardi, spoke passionately about what it’s like working with at the Dunlea Centre on a daily basis. Many students come to the program after leaving traditional schooling. Therefore, Dunlea’s personal approach provides young people with a home, and five dedicated guardians who assist with different facets of the program. Attendance rates at the Dunlea Centre exceed 90%, and the average student’s reading comprehension improved by 2 years, reading age improved by 4 years, and spelling improved by 2 years.

Mastronardi also told the story of former Dunlea Centre student Kane, who described the program as “planting the seed of a better future” in his life. Many of the lessons he learned through the counselling sessions, and the school program still resonate with him today.

Throughout the evening, guests were treated to the comedic styling of the evening’s MC, Channel Nine Presenter Tim Gilbert, as well as dazzling entertainment from Zaffet Leben, Paul Chang, and Dauntless Movement Crew.

Along with the charity focus, the event also celebrated the hard work and achievements of Montessori Academy staff. Awards were presented to Educators who had displayed excellence throughout the year. The winners included:

Employee of the Year
• Susan Cvetkovski, Macquarie Park

Excellence in Educational Leadership
• Katia Kalouche, Strathfield
• Bernadette Azzi, Greenacre

Excellence in Leadership and Service Management
• Kathleen Coquico, Penrith
• Vanessa Callum, Castle Hill

Excellence Award
• Anna Valente
• Lamisse Kazzi
• Manjula Ganeshalingam

Bright Star Award
• Charlene Tannous, Entrada
• Breanna Pietrantonio, Barangaroo
• Esperance Tahhan, Croydon

Outstanding Family Care Officer
• Louise Rocha

Outstanding Montessori Teacher
• Donna Brown, Victoria Park
• Shymala Thiele, Buwood

Outstanding Second in Charge
• Meghan Johnson, Macquarie Park
• Narda Bennett, Penrith
• Rong Zeng, North Parramatta

Outstanding Educator
• Abir El Rai, Auburn
• Amanda Salloum
• Ami Tank, Leichhardt
• Claire Gioukaris, Alexandria
• Deborah Safi, Condell Park
Oustanding Educator (Continued)
• Erny Phan, Strathfield
• Ezra Taylor, Lane Cove
• Jessica Banh, Croydon
• Maddison Read, Gymea
• Mary Nakhoul, Bankstown
• Nikolina Vulcik, Barangaroo
• Patricia Mardiarga, North Parramatta
• Rita Abed El Ahad, Greenacre
• Rozina Hirani, Castle Hill
• Yasemin Mehmedov, Penrith

Finally, Montessori Academy would like to extend a heartfelt thanks to our sponsors, whose generous donations have gone toward the deserving Dunlea Centre and Montfort Boy’s Town in Fiji. This includes:

• Bartier Perry
• ARK Air
• Price Waterhouse Coopers
• Raguz Building Services
• Educational Experience
• Fam International
• Zaffet Lebnen
• MMDCC Construction Consultants
• Sparke Helmore Lawyers
• DIB Insurance
• DCWC Project Managers
• Liskowski Lawyers
• Upstream
• Westpac
• Australian Consulting Engineers
• Planum Partners
• Snap Printing Burwood
• Art & Soul
• JT Electrical
• Billich
• Ferrarri Maserati