Frankton Primary School's Francis Pye and Kelly Pye are the first husband and wife team to receive a NEiTA national award.
They are acknowledged for their unique roles in teaching Years 1 to 6 in the Whanau Room at Frankton Primary, in Hamilton. Their two pre-schoolers and new baby are part of the classroom which operates on the Virtues programme.
Their class comprises mainly boys aged from 5 to 11 years, and most have issues with behaviour, socialisation and learning.
Francis and Kelly first target behaviour and social skills. When the children experience success, their self-esteem rises and their progress improves markedly.
Older children and high achievers act as peer tutors to those less able, and as role models for expected behaviour.
The pair was recently presented with NEiTA Foundation Crystal Apples, and an ASG Education Programmes professional development grant of $5000 by Ann Dickason, a member of NEiTA's New Zealand selection panel.
Francis and Kelly integrate literacy, numeracy, art and drama into their programme.
They provide families with ideas and strategies to try at home that are consistent with expectations at school.
To reward students who have shown virtues, and commitment to taking responsibility for their learning, Francis and Kelly involve the children in their own family activities, including baking, going to the town library or to the beach.
In so doing, they provide further powerful modelling behaviour for the children.
The judges felt this extraordinary teaching duo is "relatively unique in New Zealand education", bringing a wide range of skills and experience to the lives of young people who need as much support and encouragement as can be mustered for them.
"Students have a treasure in these two wonderful teachers."
Francis and Kelly, as a teaching team, are among 10 teachers and leaders at early childhood centres, primary and intermediate, and secondary schools from throughout New Zealand to be presented with NEiTA Foundation national awards and professional development grants over the coming weeks.
They plan to use the education programmes' $5000 professional development grant to attend the 2013 International Boys School Conference in Virginia, United States, where specialists will outline their latest research.
The conference will also provide an opportunity for them to network with other teachers who provide programmes tailored to the needs of boys.