Outstanding teachers are the foundation of quality education in any training institution. With visual merchandising teacher Ron Watkins' latest accolade, it's safe to say Kangan Institute is up there with the best. Ron, of Canterbury, was awarded a Certificate of Recognition (for Outstanding Contribution to Visual Merchandising Education in Australia) by the Retail Design Institute on Friday 26th July 2013. This inaugural award honours Ron for his 30 years of excellence in teaching in the visual merchandising course. "The best thing about this award is that my students are all very happy I got it; it makes us all proud which is wonderful," said Ron. "I see this award as more than just a personal achievement. This formal recognition from a worldwide industry body such as the Retail Design Institute, which is a first for Australia, reflects their confidence in the future of visual merchandising in Melbourne. It's an exciting time for anyone passionate about retail design to come on board and learn all about it." Ron teaches the Diploma of Visual Merchandising at Kangan Institute's Centre for Fashion and Creative Studies. He says the course is a popular choice with visual merchandising students for its central location in Richmond as well as partnerships with major Melbournian retailers. "Melbourne is often hailed as a leader in store design across the world and Richmond, as one of the city's busiest fashion and retail precincts, is the ideal place for anyone to start their visual merchandising studies," he said. "Students come to Kangan Institute because of the unique emphasis on industry work placement my students complete eight to ten weeks of real work experience with our partners such as MYER, Toorak Village, Sovereign Hill and cylk. This helps them build a great portfolio and a network of industry contacts well before graduating." Ron still keeps in regular contact with his students, many of whom have moved on to managerial positions at leading retailers across Australia. "That's the best part about teaching; knowing I have made a difference to my students' futures," he said. "I've even had my graduates contacting me to set up work placements with my current students, which is pretty fantastic for all of us!" The Retail Design Institute is a professional association of retail design specialists with a presence in over 15 cities across the world. Members include retail interior and store designers, visual merchandisers, educators, architects and more. Kangan Institute congratulates Ron on his achievements. To find out more about the visual merchandising team's creative work click here.