Vaughan Spurdle (C16) reflects on 2016 Mid-Year Intensive

Voices - 20 July 2016

Vaughan Spurdle (C16) teaches English at Tamaki College and has just been appointed to the school's Board of Trustees. Here he shares his thoughts from the recent trip to Northland.

It's mid-winter and the end of term two. I'm sure all teachers are tired at this time of the year but first (and second) year teachers are, frankly, exhausted. Spending the first weekend of the holidays with a large group of colleagues, much of it on a bus, seems like a mad idea. But something magical happens when this group is together.

This time there were two special ingredients. Firstly, the C15s and C16s were joined by some of next year's cohort - the C17s! For me this was a reminder that we are part of something bigger than just a "job". It was so refreshing to meet the future of Teach First NZ and to discuss their motivations for committing to our mahi.

The second special ingredient was the whenua and tangata whenua of Te Tai Tokerau. It was such a privilege to stay on Te Tii Waitangi marae and be in the presence of so many learned people. I will go back to school in a few days with a better understanding of the pre-treaty partnerships between Maori and pakeha, the challenges Northland now faces and the importance of education in overcoming those challenges.

My lasting memory, though, will be one of hope. In the tired, rundown Northland College gym (exemplified by the advertising sign with a three digit phone number) we witnessed a phenomenal and powerful kapa haka rehearsal. I will carry that with me as a reminder that it is our children who are capable of magic and our role as teachers is to help make this happen - regardless of the challenges we face in our schools each day.