Uperu Manly, Lucy Leslie, Waimarie Rawson-Griffths, Matthew Jeffries, Jazz Larkins and Victoria Chellew are all working as teacher aides at WSCW and they are also all Alumni of Western Springs College – Ngā Puna o Waiōrea.
So what attracted them back to WSCW?
A range of reasons… Victoria says the school was a special place that inspired her to be her authentic self. Having moved from a Catholic school at 15 years old, Springs-Waiōrea fostered an environment where she felt like she was treated as an individual, surrounded by smart and supportive teachers. Waimarie was keen to get some experience in the teaching realm and thought that WSCW was a perfect place to do that. While Lucy came back to visit some teachers, the school had always felt a bit like home and the job came from there. For others the job opportunity presented itself and they took it, but all were happy to come back to WSCW as a place of work.
What is it like being on the other side as a staff member?
It is nostalgic in the sense that we used to be in the same position as the students. Great seeing the faces of old teachers, although some found it hard to break the habit of calling old teachers ‘Miss’ and are still not used to being called Mr or Miss themselves. To start with it also felt very strange when students came to ask for permission for things.
For Victoria, coming back as a teacher aide has been a great experience. The Learning Support team is an awesome group of people and she has loved having the opportunity to build positive relationships with both staff and students.
Lucy says “it’s been great to put the skills I acquired in my time as a student here to good use, especially skills learned as a student leader and the best thing is… getting to watch the students grow and achieve their goals”.
Most agreed, you do see a different side to the school, that you were unaware of as a student and that the best part of being a teacher aide is knowing that you are helping students learn and shaping them into good young adults for the community.
And of course, it is great to go to the front of the line at the tuck shop… bring back the $1.60 potato puff!
What is it like to work in the new school?
It’s great, especially now we are a co-governance school. Lucy loves the community vibe and seeing so many familiar faces everyday. She even knows the taxi driver who picks up some of the students from Learning Support.
Although the entire school has been knocked down and rebuilt, the kaupapa of respect and understanding between staff and students remains. Uperu likes the idea of open space learning and the school is much less of a maze, but some miss the character and memories associated with being in the old buildings. That said, having Learning Support be a part of the main building is really wonderful as it reflects WSCW’s acceptance and inclusivity of diversity!
What came through strongly from all of the teacher aides was that WSCW still has the same care for students that they experienced while at school here and they all do the job for the very best reason… they really enjoy helping students and seeing them do well!