Tracie’s journey with Teach First NZ

Voices - 10 October 2017

Tracie Pile (Cohort 2015) is currently in her third year teaching Te Reo Māori at James Cook High School. Below is an interview she recently had with our CEO Jay Allnutt.

What drew you to apply for Teach First NZ?
What drew me to Teach First NZ was the opportunity to give back to my community in a meaningful way by helping to improve rangatahi outcomes in areas of educational disadvantage. I was born and brought up in South Auckland, I went to Mangere College. I did all of my schooling in Mangere, it made me the person that I am and I wanted to give back to those same kids, to my community.The fact that I could receive a salary and a scholarship while I trained made it possible for me to follow this path, whilst still supporting my whānau financially. The programme has been life changing for me and my whānau in a way I couldn’t have imagined.

How has this changed (you) as a result of your experiences on the programme?
My experiences on the programme opened my eyes and heart up to the disparities in my community and the effect it has on children’s education.  I have a deeper appreciation and empathy for others, a stronger sense of responsibility and my social conscience has grown exponentially.  As an example, I have become an electoral party member and have been door knocking over these elections. I never would have thought about doing something like this before the programme, not at all.

What are you doing now having graduated from the programme in 2016?
I am in my third year of teaching at the same school I was placed.  I love my school and my students and am constantly seeking ways to improve their educational achievement whilst doing my best to be aware of their overall well-being.  I see myself staying at my school until January 2019 when I receive my teacher registration.  Thereafter I will remain in teaching and/or the education sector.

What are the challenges and barriers that you see to the achievement of educational equality? What might help overcome these?
Parents wanting to support their children’s education however there are a lot of stresses on them – work commitments, family commitments and situations changing (parents separating, having to move house, move suburbs or cities).  It appears to me that financial stresses play a major role in the stability and wellbeing of our students’ and their educational aspirations. Hence my interest in government policies because I can see the impact policies have on my community.  Therefore social policies that support families, children and communities I believe will be helpful in improving educational equality.  Obviously there is far more to it than that, and schools also need to be supported but from what I have seen and experienced assisting families would be a great start to overcoming some of the educational challenges ahead for our tamariki.