PROUD: Richmond River High School teacher Sally Ford (third left) credits her success as a teacher to her students.
PROUD: Richmond River High School teacher Sally Ford (third left) credits her success as a teacher to her students. Jackie Munro

Meet the Lismore teacher who was named best in the state

WHILE many teachers are dedicated to their students, not many devote seven days a week and 52 weeks a year to them.

But Richmond River High School teacher Sarah Ford, who goes by Sally, does, and it has been that dedication to her students which led her to win the title of the state's 'Best Vocational Teacher or Trainer'.

The Lismore teacher was granted the prestigious award at the 2019 NSW Training Awards held in Sydney last week and said when she heard her name read out, she "simply couldn't believe it".

"When they called my name, it was such a shock I thought I would drop dead," she said.

"It was overwhelming, and I was up against some truly wonderful teachers."

Ms Ford is the school's technological and applied studies head teacher, and currently teaches four Vocational Education and Training subjects; primary industries, hospitality, horticulture, and food and beverage.

Despite her immense dedication and finding innovation in the programs she teaches, Ms Ford instead credits the award to her students.

"I just have a bunch of really wonderful kids. I'm so lucky to have them," she said.

Ms Ford said she has been steadily working to improve the school's primary industries program in order to appeal to more students and to cater to their individual needs, such as introducing sheep and chickens for the students who may be intimidated by cattle.

The program, which currently hosts a variety of agricultural industries including cattle, sheep, poultry, bees and horticulture, requires a lot of time and effort to maintain, which means Ms Ford is often at the school every day of the year, even school holidays.

However she said the benefits and enjoyment the program brings to the students makes it "all worth it".

"I love doing things for these kids. If I have to give up some personal time, so be it," she said.

"I'm passionate about farming and if I can do something to help these students blossom into having a career, then that's a win for me."

Her students said Ms Ford had "well-deserved" the award, and Year 9 student Ryan Bebb said he was glad she had won.

"She's better than all of the other teachers I have," he said.

"She's more dedicated and she prefers to take care of our well-being more than her own."

Ms Ford will go on to represent NSW at the Australian Training Awards in Brisbane in November.