Teach First NZ & Tangaroa College

Voices - Partner stories - 14 May 2014

Teach First NZ is proud to serve Tangaroa College in Auckland's Otara. In 2014, three Teach First NZ participants are teaching in the school.

Ngaire Ashmore, Principal of Tangaroa College, recounts her journey with Teach First NZ, starting with the earliest encounter they had. “In 2011 we were visited by Shaun [Chief Executive of Teach First NZ] who came to talk to us about this new way of delivering teacher education and if this was something our school would be interested in. We were interested – but I would say at this stage, only lukewarm as there were still many unanswered questions. What was really interesting though, was the passion and the potential of the programme that Shaun managed to get across in that very first meeting. Many of those questions were answered over the course of 2011 and 2012 which gave us much confidence in the Teach First NZ programme. It also helped having people like Professor Graeme Aitken, Dr Ngaire Hoben and Margaret Bendall on board - all esteemed colleagues.”

In 2013 Teach First NZ paired Tangaroa College with two participants. Joshua Irving and Nadeen Papali’i joined the Tangaroa College staff team after having completed their Summer Initial Intensive. Ngaire Ashmore describes their contribution to the school:
“Both Nadeen and Josh have made an enormous impact on our school in such a short time. They are outstanding practitioners and although they will both say they are still on a very steep learning curve, their contribution to the school has been felt by students within their classrooms as well as beyond the classroom. Their mentor mentioned to me recently how much reading and planning she has to do now just to keep up with them during their meetings! Their ideas, their thinking, their implementation of new ways of doing things to support student achievement are outstanding, and they’ll be very proud of the achievement of their students this year.”

Joshua teaches English at Tangaroa College. He describes a typical day at school:

“My day at work starts with a coffee and (ideally) a banana. Before class, there's always a colleague I need to see about something, and I’ll often touch base with my mentor. Then I’m in class. Sometimes, my students arrive fresh and focussed, pens ready. I love those times. Other times, the excitement of what happened at P.E., or the stench of deodorant too heavily applied, can prove a distraction. Once we had a living, breathing frog turn up to class (and, no, we don’t perform dissections in English). At lunchtime, I see a lot of students whose names I don’t yet know, but their faces are friendly. And then I hear “SIR!” from a student I taught last year, challenging me to a game of hand-ball. I lose almost every time. I reckon if you hit ‘pause’ and counted the number of tennis, volley and rugby balls in flight, they would exceed fifty. There are also voices harmonising in corridors, and one that could pass for Alicia Keys’. Then, there are songs I don’t recognise, ones in other languages. I never get tired of hearing them, though. Before long, it’s back to class for everyone, and I’m back to analysing a poem with my students. The bell rings at 3:05, always sooner than expected. I hope my students leave class wondering, not just wandering home.”

This year, Rikihana Gurnick (pictured below), from the 2014 Cohort, is teaching Chemistry, and has joined her fellow participants and colleagues in the Tangaroa staff team. She had this to say about her experience at school so far:

“On the morning of the 28th of January, I left home full of nerves and anticipation as I headed toward my new life being a teacher at Tangaroa College. The week began with a teacher only day where I had the opportunity to meet my new colleagues and jump straight into the role that would become my life for the next two years. There was an overload of new information, lesson planning, meetings and everything else that can be expected on one’s first day in a new job. By the end of the week I had met my students, got to know them a little and begun lessons. From the get-go, I was welcomed into the school and the science department with open arms, receiving a bright bouquet of flowers at the end of my first week, and many pearls of wisdom from more experienced teachers. I was also welcomed by the students of Tangaroa, all friendly and eager to find out who the new teacher was. I am now into my fifth week at Tangaroa College and I can’t think of anywhere else I would rather be. I have grown a lot in these weeks, continually learning from other teachers and alongside my students. It is such a pleasure to be teaching at Tangaroa College and I cannot find the words express my excitement for the years ahead. I have begun my career! And I am ready and willing for anything it has to bring at me. In the words of Tangaroa College students, "Come at me 2014".”


Principal Ngaire Ashmore's full speech