Vivian Della Valle's love for her job and teaching at the Centre for Adult Education (CAE) helped her crawl back up from rock bottom and landed her on the finalist list for 2020 Learn Local Awards.
"It was with the right mindset, energised by my passion for teaching and the focus of empowering my students, that kept me focused and willing to succeed," she said.
Vivian is in the running for the Victorian Learn Local Practitioner Award after being nominated by her managers for her outstanding work over the many years she has been with CAE.
This award is a fantastic way for the Adult, Community and Further Education (ACFE) Board to recognise and honour the outstanding achievements of individuals, programs, and training providers within the Learn Local education and training areas.
If Vivian wins, she will proudly display the Practitioner Award certificate on her desk as a reminder of the hard work and dedication she has brought to her career and the industry she is so passionate about.
She would also purchase an Apple computer with the prize money to assist some of her students who encounter problems with their Apple Mac and the rest of the money will go towards paying off her HECS debt.
"With the finalist prize money, I intend on purchasing an Apple Watch. I will then be ready to teach skills in operating it to others," she said.
Vivian started working at CAE eight years ago in the now Faculty of Foundation Studies, Sport and Business, teaching a pre-accredited course of 10 weeks.
Management asked her to stay and increased her teaching load with more classes during the term and signed a one-year contract.
"I continued to sign a one-year contract until, after an interview, I became ongoing in 2019. I have delivered many pre-accredited courses in the past eight years."
The courses Vivian has delivered include Intermediate Computer, Advanced Computer, Entrepreneurial Skills for students with a business idea, Know Your Gismo covering various digital devices including iPad and Smartphone, Camera, Website Development, Business Basics for Women, Ready for Work, and Pathways.
Vivian currently teaches the Computers for Work-The Modern Office, an intermediate computer course, and Computers for Beginners course that lasts for the term's duration and is delivered virtually.
"I have embraced the challenges of working from home and have found that there are many advantages," she said.
Working from home is comfortable and has worked well for Vivian and her students learning new online teaching and delivery skills.
She says, "I'm enjoying the experience. It makes perfect sense to continue working from home. I can sense a change in the way education, industries, and all of us will operate in the future."
Before CAE, Vivian worked as a Secretary/Personal Assistant in finance departments for various companies. She is always operating computers, constantly upskilling, learning new programs, computer applications, and keeping up to date with the internet evolving.
Vivian says her favourite teaching experience is when a student understands a skill or concept taught and when they develop a curiosity to learn more.
"I enjoy teaching the missing link to the student. Once they understand or get that missing piece of the puzzle, they can then go off onto their chosen pathways to achieve their goal," she said.
For Vivian, her proudest moment as a teacher is when her students succeed. One of these moments was when she nominated one of her students for The Individual Achievement Award and the student won.
In class, the student produced the highest quality of completed tasks but had low self-esteem and no support, with negativity from her parents and other challenging life circumstances. She struggled and questioned her ability to continue in the course.
However, when Vivian nominated her for an award, her entire demeanour changed. She is now pursuing a Bachelor in Teaching.
Vivian faced heartaches and challenges over the years. She had a stroke in 2005, separated from her husband of 30 years and had to move her parents into a nursing home. Her whole world changed and her confidence went out the window.
She said, "In my personal life's challenges, I found myself happiest by being absorbed in my teaching by going to that place I love, to overcome adversity."
Her job is her happy place. It was Vivian's love for teaching, her students, and the support from her managers that made all the difference in crawling up from rock bottom to recovery.
"I love every part of my job at the CAE. I am grateful to be nominated and now a finalist for the Practitioner Award. Though I feel like I have already won," she said.
Vivian feels honoured, humbled, and excited that all her passion and work have been recognised.
We are all incredibly grateful to have passionate teachers like Vivian as part of CAE. Congratulations on making it onto the finalist list. A fantastic achievement.