Sole stu­dent fol­lowed by 15,000

Rotorua Daily Post - - Local News - Amy Di­a­mond

07 348 6199 or 0800 324 597

Sub­scrip­tion and de­liv­er­ies cir­cu­la­tion@dai­ly­post.co.nz justine.knowles@nzme.co.nz Scott Inglis

07 348 6199 0800 100 099 Greg Mur­phy

Justine Knowles 07 349 5514

Chris Leckie re­mem­bers the first stu­dent to walk through the doors at Ro­torua English Lan­guage Acad­emy 25 years ago.

“Her name was Yuki and she was from Ja­pan,” she says.

When Chris opened the school in 1993 with busi­ness part­ners Elaine and Roger Brew­ster, Yuki was the only stu­dent and Chris and Elaine were the only teach­ers.

Since then, more than 15,000 stu­dents have taken English lessons, there are now about eight per­ma­nent staff, plus a team of re­lief teach­ers, and thou­sands of friend­ships and con­nec­tions have been made.

This week the school was cel­e­brat­ing “thriv­ing and sur­viv­ing” for 25 years.

Chris said the 25-year cel­e­bra­tion marked the ups and downs the school had ex­pe­ri­enced.

“I love meet­ing our stu­dents and watch­ing their con­fi­dence grow,” she said.

But the suc­cess of the school had not al­ways been smooth sail­ing, with prob­lems aris­ing from the ter­ror­ist at­tacks of Septem­ber 11 and dis­eases such as Bird Flu that had pre­vented stu­dents from trav­el­ling to New Zealand.

“It has been very hard at times but we have sur­vived,” Chris said.

She had al­ways be­lieved the school would sur­vive be­cause of its unique­ness and the strong fam­ily feel­ing about the acad­emy.

Chris said the school catered for stu­dents aged from 13 to 70 and had ex­pe­ri­enced strong growth in both long and short-term stu­dent num­bers.

She said the school did not just of­fer English lessons but also helped show­case the beauty of Ro­torua by work­ing with lo­cal ac­tiv­ity providers and or­gan­is­ing lo­cal home­s­tays.

“We have been suc­cess­ful largely be­cause of the sup­port of the Ro­torua com­mu­nity.”

She said there had al­ways been in­ter­est from lo­cals want­ing to host stu­dents.

“The com­mu­nity are nat­u­rally hos­pitable and wel­com­ing. Stu­dents of­ten say how safe and wel­come they feel,” Chris said.

PHOTO / STEPHEN PARKER

Ro­torua English Lan­guage Acad­emy is cel­e­brat­ing 25 years of suc­cess. Chris Leckie speaks to the crowd.

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