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Honours award for ACG Sunderland deputy principal

“Lawrence has a tireless dedication to his students. He is an outstanding teacher who brings out the very best in all those he teaches” – ACG Schools CEO, Clarence van der Wel.


ACG Sunderland deputy principal Lawrence Stephens has earned an Independent Schools of New Zealand (ISNZ) Honours Award for his outstanding service to chemistry and senior management. 

The annual awards, which were presented last Friday at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa,  recognise staff who go above and beyond for their school and students. Lawrence, who has been deputy principal at the school for a decade, was delighted to receive the accolade. 

“Getting the award was very unexpected, but it’s fantastic to be recognised,” he said.  

“I know there are a lot of fantastic educators, both in my own school and in Independent Schools throughout New Zealand, so to be one of a small group to be recognised with one of these awards does mean a lot. The genuine congratulations from a lot of educators I have a huge respect for makes the award mean even more to me, and highlights that people do see all the effort that goes in.” 

This year, Lawrence has been teaching ACG Sunderland’s IGCSE and AS computer science class, as well as his senior chemistry classes, and thanks to his expertise and hands-on, dynamic teaching style, students of all abilities have flourished. 

ISNZ – an organisation that represents 46 private schools across New Zealand – noted he had pioneered the integration of Cambridge into the New Zealand educational environment, describing his classes as “interesting and accessible with plenty of differentiated material so all levels are engaged”. 

“Lawrence delivers outstanding lessons, continually adjusting his pedagogy to improve outcomes, and teaches via practical work as much as possible, developing skills and confidence.” 

ISNZ praised Lawrence for his ongoing development of excellent teaching and learning resources, and his willingness to share these with colleagues not just across ACG, but across the Cambridge community. 

But for the dedicated deputy principal, hard work is just part of the job. 

“I do expect a high level of effort and commitment from my students, and I don’t think you can ever expect that if you are not prepared to give the same or more yourself. I don’t believe anything in life comes easily, you have to work hard for your goals, and I try and instil that attitude in my students and push them to strive to be their best. You can’t just talk about this though; you have to show it with what you do as well – and that’s what makes me go the extra mile.” 

For ACG Schools CEO Clarence van der Wel, the Honours Award was a fitting way to acknowledge a fantastic educator. 

“Lawrence has a tireless dedication to his students. He is an outstanding teacher who brings out the very best in all those he teaches,” he said.