Teen mum lives and learns
Courtney Quirke never imagined that at 18 she would be juggling school work, bills and being a mother but this teen mum is determined to make something of her life and give her son a great future.
Speaking to the South Waikato News at the Teen Parenting Unit at the old Matarawa School building near Tokoroa High School, Courtney is working on her tourism studies and opens up about her experiences to date.
The last time South Waikato News caught up with Courtney her son Wyatt was just a few months old and she was ready to embark on school life through the Teen Parenting Unit.
One year has passed since then and Courtney could not be happier.
‘‘I didn’t realise it’s almost been a year at the unit it has gone so fast. Wyatt and I have our own home; he is attending daycare while I’m at school but if he gets sick I can bring him into the unit with me.’’
Courtney has completed National Certificate of Educational Achievement level two. She hopes to achieve level three this year.
Courtney credits the teen parenting unit for helping achieve her goals.
‘‘ If it wasn’t for the unit I wouldn’t be able to continue high school and gain the qualifications I have. I would probably be at home looking after Wyatt and that’s it.’’
Although she would not trade Wyatt for the world, Courtney said that if she had a choice she would have waited until she had finished her studies and developed a work record before becom- ing a mother. ‘‘If I could, I would have waited. However there is a silver lining. If it wasn’t for Wyatt I would not have my level two NCEA. I would not be trying hard at school and I would be using school to organise my social life. Wyatt is my inspiration to succeed.
‘‘Everything I do is to give him a better future and I am determined.’’
Courtney has been lucky to have the full support of her mum and dad who are doting grandparents.
‘‘My mum turns up every day to my house to see how we’re going. She is an amazing mother and an awesome nan. She turns up if it’s raining to give me and Wyatt a ride to school and daycare. My family have been our rock.’’
Teen parenting unit coordinator Irene Hakaria said the unit was designed to help teen mothers and fathers complete their secondary school education.
‘‘ I absolutely love my job,’’ whaea Irene said, ‘‘We have the added bonus of not only having students attend but at times their babies. The unit helps mothers and fathers succeed while caring for their children.’’
The Teen Parenting Unit is a joint venture between Tokoroa High School, Forest View High School and other community organisations.
Irene said students had the choice to achieve through being integrated into classes at Tokoroa High School or completing work through the Correspondence School.
Courtney said it had been the acceptance of her peers that had made her journey from schoolgirl to mother and student a happy experience.
‘‘You just never know how they will react to you once they find out you have a baby. But my classmates have been supportive and accepting.
The Teen Parenting Unit offers teen mothers and fathers a chance at learning at their pace while putting the needs of the baby and the mother first.
The unit has three staff – Irene, Fran Thompson-steven and Carle Hakaria.
Courtney’s goal is to move into tertiary education to complete a business or law degree. She wants to encourage other young mothers and fathers up to the age of 24 to get their qualifications.
‘‘Just because you are a teen and may have one or more babies doesn’t mean your education needs to be put on hold. If you are not going to do it for yourself you should do it for your babies.’’
For more information about the Teen Parenting Unit contact Irene Hakaria via Tokoroa High School on 07 886 6109.
SUCCESS: Teen Parenting Unit students Courtney Quirke and Niria Rika holding Niria’s daughter Lily Manuel.