FOR Aunty Selena Archibald it's never been about the accolades, she says she's not a fan of the recognition.
But on Tuesday night she was blown away by the outpour of love from the Morisset High School community when she was honoured for her long commitment to Aboriginal education.
Surprised by family, friends and past students in attendance at the Western Shores Learning Alliance Deadly awards, she was presented with a Lifetime Patron Award by the school's Itji-Marru Aboriginal Education Consultative Group (AECG).
"I don't enjoy the accolades, I don't do my job for that reason - I do it for my kids," she said.
For almost 25 years Aunty Selena has supported the learning and achievement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in her role as the Aboriginal Education Officer at Morisset High.
"I grew up in a place where education wasn't always offered to me so I always vowed that I wanted to help Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kids to get an education and help them build their own identity so they're proud of who they are," she said.
In her time she has helped 700 of her 'kids' to dream big, step up as leader, connect to their identity and culture, and work hard to achieve their goals.
"Some of my students have gone on to be police officers, teachers and working in the medical field," she said.
"They're breaking down barriers and also putting themselves out there being loud and proud of who they are and where they come from."
She said she was humbled and proud to receive the award and surprised her school community were able to keep the secret.
"Everybody's very proud that they were able to keep a secret from me," she said.
"They are all so proud and I'm proud."
Aunty Selena's former student, school captain and DUX Dana Patterson is now making a difference as a Community Engagement Officer at the NSW Coalition of Aboriginal Peak Organisations.
"I know that I would not be where I am today without Aunty Selena. As a learner and a young person, both Itji Marru and Aunty Selena became a source of strength and empowerment for me," she said.
"I always knew that I could go there and speak to Aunty about anything - whether I needed a quiet place to study, a shoulder to cry on or even just a hot cup of Milo - she was always there for me and for us kids."
Itji-Marru AECG president Steven Adams said Aunty Selena is the "heart and rock" of all that they do to support the aspiration for learning and education success of its Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.
"I don't know what we'd do without her," he said.