Students put back on right track
Second chances have meant the world to a group of Mana College students and their families who have marked the success of their alternative education classes with celebrations.
The ‘10PZ’ class was set up in 2009 when the school experienced a bottleneck of students who didn’t engage in the school environment and didn’t complete enough credits in year 9 to progress.
Now many of those students are still in school, prepared to take the next step to tertiary study and many have found a new outlook in life.
Teacher Ami Perez says the class has been a big success and students have seen massive turnabouts in both their school achievements and decisions they were making outside school.
Earlier this month three years’ worth of students who had come through the class, and their families, gathered with staff and community agencies to celebrate the success of the programme and to mark their achievements.
The class will not be run next year, due to funding pressures and a reduced need for it, says Mana College principal Mike Webster.
Mrs Perez says: to provide an ‘‘We wanted alternative approach to education to engage students who traditionally disliked school and I feel that has been achieved beyond ourexpectations.’’
As well as disengagement with education and falling grades, many of the students were wagging, disrupting classes and getting into trouble outside school. They were approached by her during the summer holidays and persuaded to give school one more try.
‘‘One of the first students said to me ‘don’t waste your time because I’m getting patched at the end of the year’. Now he’s graduating from the Services Academy at Mana College and next year he’s going into the army. His family are just so proud of him.’’
The class had a maximum of 12 students, most in year 10, so teachers could build a closer relationship with them and with their families.
‘‘Our first goal’s to keep them coming to school, get them in here following the school rules and then focus on academic successes, and our main goal’s to get them back into mainstream [to] continue their learning.’’
2011 10PZ student Gabrielle Snowden-tahiwi says the class has made her enjoy school.
‘‘Before I used to wag whenever I felt like it, walk out of classes and swear a lot at all my teachers. I hated school and I was getting into trouble with the police as well.’’
Gabrielle was put on a contract with the school and assigned to the alternative class. She also had to meet 85 per cent of her credits, not wag, and be in full uniform to be able to take part in the class’ Friday field trips. She is going back to school next year and plans on being a hairdresser.
Those on the programme ‘‘are achieving beyond my expectations’’, Mrs Perez says.
Final year: Mana College alternative education class teacher Ami Perez, with some of her students. The class has given many of them a second chance at school, and a fresh start toward a brighter future, but will not continue due to lack of funding.