The school featured in the pages of In classe last year, for its Italian studies program.

It has returned again this year after its very own Rosa Sfameni claimed the Italian Teacher award, in the 2019 Unsung Heroes Awards presented by Education HQ.

In an interview with Australian Teacher Magazine, Sfameni couldn’t hide her shock and appreciation for the resounding support she’s received from the school community.

Comments on the school’s Facebook page say it all.

“Congratulations Rosa,” one parent wrote.

“You have made Italian my daughter’s favourite subject.”

But Sfameni’s biggest fans are her students themselves.

Even those who are no longer in her class voted to make sure she took out the title.

The recognition is particularly important to Sfameni, who believes that the work of language teachers is often overlooked but vitally important.

“I’ve come to love it more and more as the time passes,” she told Italian Teacher Magazine.

“I’ve come to realise that it’s more than just teaching, it’s giving kids exposure to the culture and the way of life and showing them that it is in fact really different to what we have in Australia.

“Then they’re able to link that to their own cultural heritage and make comparisons and open their eyes to what’s more than what they experience in their home life [three-quarters of the school’s students have an Indian background].”

Sfameni’s passion for Italian comes from her relationship with her grandparents.

“I am a heritage learner, so that essentially means that I learnt it because I have an Italian background and I had to speak it at home with my grandparents because they didn’t learn English,” she said.

“In order to communicate with them, I had to learn… the language and I was immersed with them and I learnt from them essentially, and I carry that really strong identity as an Italian person and I really want to pass that on to others.”

This year, Hume Anglican Grammar students will embark on the school’s first Italian study tour, planned and organised by Sfameni: seventeen days, including a five-day stint at Monash University’s campus in Prato.

Sfameni’s efforts in organising the trip didn’t go unnoticed by the school’s deputy principal, Robert Tassoni.

“This is an amazing achievement for one so young,” Tassoni wrote in Sfameni’s nomination letter.

“Whenever Rosa does something, no matter how complex or difficult, she does so without bringing attention to herself and does it out of the goodness of her heart and her love for our students.”