Andrew Best commenced teaching in 1978 in South West Sydney as a primary school teacher. He spent the next 37 years in this region and worked in eight different schools. He has divided his time between mainstream primary schools and special education settings.
He became a principal in 1991 and has led four school communities, recently retiring from Harrington Park Public School. He became interested in environmental education in 1995 after witnessing first-hand the impact of climate change during a holiday in Canada.
He commenced his role of principal at St Helens Park Public School in 1996, and this is where his journey into environmental education really began. Several school based initiatives led to an invitation to be included in a pilot of the Australian Sustainable Schools Initiative (AuSSI). After a successful pilot Andrew was asked to represent the NSW Department of Education at a national planning forum for AuSSI in 2005. He left St Helens Park Public School in 2006. The school was recognised with an award for its environmental programs the same year.
Andrew continued with his passion for education for sustainability at Leumeah Public School. Shortly after moving to this school he was invited to join Al Gore’s Climate Project in conjunction with the Australian Conservation Foundation. His involvement with this project has allowed him to present from Arnhem Land to Alaska.
He was awarded a Churchill fellowship in 2008 to study Environmental Education and Student Engagement. His studies took him to the United Kingdom and USA. He studied the Eco Schools program in the UK and in the USA he focused on the engagement of students with challenging behaviours and the engagement of indigenous students using environmental education as a vehicle.
He moved to Harrington Park Public School in 2009, and received an achievement award as part of the Australia Day celebrations in 2010 for his work in the field of Environmental Education. He has continued to lead initiatives up to the present in a variety of ways.
He was part of the ACF’s Skillshare Program in 2013 helping teachers from Indonesia and India to develop ways of engaging communities through schools to address the challenges of Climate Change.
He has chaired the Macarthur Sustainable Schools Network since its formation in 2005. Schools in this network piloted a trial of Eco Schools and in May 2014 Harrington Park Public School hosted the launch of Eco Schools in Australia. More than two hundred schools across all states and territories have now signed up to the program. Harrington Park Public School qualified for its Bronze Level Award in October, and is well on its way to achieving its silver award in the near future.
Andrew has also been actively involved in Leadership Development throughout his career. He has served as the president of a regional special schools association, and the South West Sydney Primary Principals Association. He has been a member of the NSW Primary Principals Association Leadership Working Party and has been a member of teams which have written and developed programs for school leaders. He received the NSW Primary Principals Association’s Professional Award for ‘Outstanding Leadership in Teaching and Learning in NSW Public Schools’ in 2007.
He is a trained facilitator for the Franklin Covey 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, and Great Teams, Great Leaders, Great Results programs. He worked as a School Leadership Development Officer helping to develop a new role for Principals in School Leadership within the NSW Department of Education.
Since retirement Andrew has continued to work as a volunteer with the Climate Reality Project and has written pieces for the Australian Conservation Foundation’s website on the topic of Environmental Education. He continues to work as a consultant in educational leadership and has recently been appointed as a director on the board of Keep NSW Beautiful.