Gary Brace was addressing 250 teachers at the recent Inspirational Teacher Awards 2006, run by teacher recruitment agency New Directions and held at Cardiff's Marriott hotel. "Historically teachers have always been very special in Wales - they deserve to be celebrated," he said.
Laser-engraved plaques made from Welsh slate were presented to winners in six categories, They were chosen by a panel of three judges from the education sector.
Many nominations had been received from pupils. Red Dragon FM breakfast show presenter Melissa Knight and Tony Wright, Capital Gold breakfast show presenter, hosted the event, which was attended by former world indoor 400-metre world champion Jamie Baulch and Cardiff Blues chief executive Robert Norster.
The choir from Cyfarthfa high school, Merthyr Tydfil, received a standing ovation after entertaining guests with songs from the hit musicals Les Miserables and Godspell. The event raised pound;5,000 for Help a South Wales Child, Red Dragon FM's charity for disadvantaged children.
The winning teachers were: Ann Havard, Llanishen Fach primary school, Cardiff - inspirational special educational needs teacher; Penny Reville, Cwm Glas infants, Caerphilly - inspirational primary teacher; Paul Edwards, Llantarnam school, Cwmbran - inspirational secondary teacher; Cliff Warwick, Trinity Fields special school, Hengoed - inspirational special needs headteacher; Michelle Jones, Twynyrodyn community school, Merthyr Tydfil - inspirational primary headteacher; and Alan Pritchard, Cyfarthfa high school, Merthyr Tydfil - inspirational secondary headteacher.