MEREDITH THORNTON has been announced as a finalist for Teacher of the Year at the Netball Victoria Community Awards.
A teacher since 1986 and a Warrandytian from 1987, Meredith embodies everything that is community within Warrandyte.
If you can think of a community role, chances are Meredith has at some point held it or worked with those in that role.
Now a PE teacher and at times acting Principal of Anderson’s Creek Primary School, as well as owner of The White Owl café in the Goldfields, and on the Warrandyte Netball Club (WNC) committee helping the club get grants, Meredith says she loves working locally.
“I love being a part of the community,” she said.
Having lived in Warrandyte for almost 35 years Meredith said she feels very connected with the community.
This award nomination from Netball Victoria came as a shock to Meredith, who said she knew nothing about it but was “absolutely stoked, absolutely staggered… just to be a finalist, is a real honour”
The Netball Victoria Community Awards celebrate the significant achievements of individuals and groups who have contributed to the sport of netball in Victoria.
Speaking to the Diary, Meredith said that she has always been passionate about sport and in particular girls and women being involved.
“My mum reminded me the other day that, when I was in year 12, you have those English essays you could do whatever topic you wanted, and mine was that girls should be involved in sport,” she said.
Being a PE teacher, and being heavily involved with WNC, Meredith is pleased her four daughters all played netball at Warrandyte, with Jemma still involved as a player and coach.
Meredith has coached, been responsible for successfully applying for a number grants and as a committee member of the Warrandyte Sporting Group (WSG), helped see the construction of the fantastic facilities now available to the netball club.
Meredith is also a past recipient of WNC’s Club Person of the Year Award. She said this passion has been driven by the fact that netball has “given girls the opportunity to shine.”
Meredith told the Diary that the netball club was a big initiator in setting up the WSG as an inclusive sporting club.
“We just needed the girls to have a home, girls were getting changed for netball training outside or in the bathrooms after school.”
This push has no doubt also been a key factor in breaking the barriers for other sports to include women and girls, with both the cricket, and now football club, looking to field a women’s team.
A move Meredith says is “fantastic” as the different codes “all work together as a combined sports club for the benefit of Warrandyte, and to get the kids and young people as involved as possible.”
One of the challenges of the pandemic has been keeping the kids engaged and especially in sport.
Meredith said that it has been extremely hard on the kids, who have missed out on being part of the team.
“All the PE activities I put up for students to do at home were generally something they could do with a parent, or sibling, or up against a wall.”
The drop off in kids enjoying sport has been an obvious one, but one that “is a concern” according to Meredith, adding that “they just haven’t had that team aspect, when you can grow up learning about working in a team it is really important.”
In addition to the amazing work with the primary school and the netball club, Meredith has also done work for the Warrandyte Business Association (WBA), as a coordinator, a part time role which stemmed from being the manager of the community centre.
Meredith told the Diary that when commonwealth bank was closing in Warrandyte, there was a lot of concern about what they [WBA] were going to do about it.
“We [WBA] needed to set up a different bank, someone said Bendigo Bank they’re really good.”
“We were one of the first, around 2001 and 2002, there weren’t a lot of community banks around but we really liked the concept.”
After the wave of community support, the board of WBA and also Bendigo Bank realised that “what we really wanted to do was to give back to our community.”
To this day it continues to be a big part of Warrandyte, and Meredith continues to do amazing work within the community.
Meredith says that she is pretty driven, in a positive way and that “I really like people and I really like connections.”
“When I look back on all the things I have done, it is all about connections, getting people together with the community and enjoy life and having fun,” she said.
Meredith is a more than deserving finalist for this award, from the Diary team, we say congratulations and thank you for all you have done and continue to do in our community.