He may be Grounds and Facilities Officer, but Mr Trent Heneker from Nuriootpa High School’s role is much more than that.
On Friday, Mr Heneker won the School and Preschool Support Award at the 2019 Public Education Awards, held at Adelaide Convention Centre.
Not only did he receive the honour, but also a $10,000 grant for personal development.
“I’m absolutely blown away and over the moon to be recognised,” said a very proud and humble Mr Heneker.
“One thing we can’t underestimate is that to receive the accolade is one thing, but first and foremost to be nominated by teachers, staff and students has been so pivotal.
“To be acknowledged for the work you do is just fantastic, and from a grounds perspective too it’s quite an honour. But we don’t do this for recognition, we do it for the love of what we do and the students.”
The Tanunda man, who actually attended Nuriootpa High School himself, is the first groundsman in the state to win the award.
To him, education awards are generally more streamlined to teachers and SSOs, so he was ‘up against some tough competition’.
He explained that there were roughly 2,000 people nominated for the awards across 10 categories, with the final three in each making it to the awards dinner.
Mr Heneker’s role at Nuriootpa High has grown over his four and a half years there.
He believes the ‘luxury’ of his role is the responsibility for the beautification of the grounds and the installation of landscape projects.
But an extension to his role, which he believes highlighted him to the Education Department, is his work with Disability Unit students on landscape projects.
He has created a young environmentalist group that help him water and look after the plants within the school.
Being a professional musician, he has been heavily involved with the music department, gone on tour, played in school concerts and even played drums for students in assessment conditions.
“It’s a pretty massive undertaking for a groundsman,” laughed Mr Heneker.
“Working with students has been a really positive flow of energy.”
And if that wasn’t enough ‘hats for him to wear’, he is also a viticulture manager by trade.
This has allowed him to become involved with Nurihannam Wines, where they are working on a vineyard re-development.
“I get an immense amount of gratification from being responsible for the grounds and construction of new projects, but first and foremost it’s the engagement and positive interaction with staff and students,” he said.
Receiving the grant for $10,000 on top of the School and Preschool Support Award was a huge added bonus for Mr Heneker, who is already looking at further study to benefit his role and students.
He is keen to complete a Diploma of Youth Work and study a Cert IV or V in Training and Assessment.
“My little 8 year old boy Jude summed it up perfectly. He said, “Dad that’s a great thing. You can buy a lot of rulers and pencil sharpeners with $10,000”. I told him he’s spot on,” he laughed.
“I see my role as being a win for myself and a win for the school.
“I am so grateful to Principal, Mrs Gerri Walker as well as former Principal, Mr Neil White and my business manager, Ms Ann-Marie Ward for allowing me to use my skill base and spread my wings in this role.”