Singleton Primary School teacher Matt Smith has had his work connecting with students through sport recognised after being named a finalist for the 2018 National Rugby League (NRL) community awards Teacher of the Year honour.
The 44-year-old phys-ed teacher was nominated for the gong by his local NRL officer, coming on the back of his work using rugby league to engage students at school.
Smith, who moved to Singleton from Warnbro Primary School two years ago, has been an instrumental part in setting up the school’s first ever tackle tournament, which saw more than 60 students put their hand up to participate.
He has also sat on a number of boards outside of school hours, including his time as chairman of the Rockingham Area Sporting Schools Association during his stint at Warnbro.
Smith said he was humbled after being named a finalist for the award, which will be announced throughout September.
“I was pretty stoked,” he said.
“It’s obviously really nice to be nominated and then to be named a finalist, it’s a pretty proud moment and it’s also great for the school to get the recognition because I couldn’t have done any of it without their support.”
Smith, who has never played rugby himself, said it was crucial to integrate any sport into the curriculum, as it helped students become better classroom learners and young people in society.
“Rugby stood out to me because we were able to start up tournaments and teams for both boys and girls, and the results have been outstanding,” he said.
“It’s all about the spirit of the sport and how it can teach these kids to better themselves, both on and off the field.”
The NRL Community Awards have recognised the tireless work of volunteer coaches, administrators, referees, teachers, grassroots clubs and players, and the invaluable effort they give to rugby league every season since 2007.
For more information on the awards visit nrl.com/community/awards/about-the-awards/