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Inspirational teacher chalks up Charlestown Local Woman of the Year honour

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Passionate educator and advocate for her students Leanne Lynch is top of the class after being named the 2024 Charlestown Local Woman of the Year.

The accolade recognises the Charlestown Public School’s assistant principal hearing and foundation member of The Hunter Signing Choir’s inspirational work throughout the community.

“Teachers are often unsung heroes,” NSW Minister for Women and Charlestown MP Jodie Harrison said.

“It’s my pleasure to be able to highlight the significant impact Leanne has had, and continues to have, for pupils and their families across the local area.

“She is clearly very passionate about her work with her students, teachers and the signing choir.

“Leanne’s a true inspiration.”

Ms Lynch knew she wanted to be a teacher, and a teacher of the deaf, from a very young age.

After being diagnosed with hearing loss herself, when eight, she’s lived with the condition throughout her life.

She began teaching in Queensland before joining the NSW Department of Education in 1989, where she became involved in hearing support.

In 2015, she joined the Charlestown Public School teaching faculty.

As assistant principal hearing, Ms Lynch is dedicated to finding the right accommodations and adjustments for students that will allow them to build the skills they need to succeed in what she says is still primarily a world geared for people who can hear.

She also works on strategies to suit the requirements of each child.

“I love what I do,” Ms Lynch said.

“I love working with the early intervention pupils, they are veritable sponges absorbing everything and that is amazing to be a part of.

“None of it would be possible without my amazing team.

“I want to thank them for hard work, support and incredible contributions.”

Ms Lynch runs conferences targeted at professional development for teachers working with hearing impaired students, too.

Away from school, she’s an integral part of The Hunter Signing Choir, which celebrated its 30-year anniversary in 2023.

Most recently, they appeared at the Australian Deaf Games opening ceremony in Newcastle.

At open community events such as this one, former students who were participants of the choir decades ago join in, which is a wonderful social experience for all the members, past and present. 

The Hunter Signing Choir will also perform at the Seniors Gala Concert in Sydney as part of the NSW Seniors Festival.

The group provides social, educational and performing arts opportunities for pupils who are hard of hearing within the entire region.

It aims to promote confidence and positive self-esteem, as well as offering unique social and performance experiences for students.

In her spare time, Ms Lynch has taught her rescue dog, who is deaf, to understand simple commands in sign language. 

“This is a well-deserved honour for Leanne,” Ms Harrison said.

“Her unparalleled commitment and ongoing contribution to the betterment of the local community will shape our society into a greater place.

“She inspires other women in the community to realise their potential and make strides to ensure Charlestown is an empowering place for women to live, work and visit.”

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