Help for fast growing school

Exciting: The senior students at Mangateretere School are very keen to get on with working on their new laptop computers. They were presented with them at a function at Te Taiwhenua o Heretaunga on Monday. With the students is new staff recruit Michaela Dunn.

There has been a perfect match between a programme helping young people into work and a school keen for help as its roll skyrockets.

Mangateretere School’s roll has tripled from 13 to 38 this year, leaving it needing support for its teaching principal and one other teacher. Meanwhile Michaela Dunn was looking for work after returning home to Hawke’s Bay from Palmerston North.

The Rangatahi mā, Kia eke project, a partnership between Hastings District Council and the Ministry of Social Development, aims to help 25 young people aged 16 to 24 who are having difficulty finding work. In the three months the programme has been running, two young people have started paid employment and three are in the process of being approved.

Ms Dunn had quickly become indispensable as Principal Mona Stewart’s personal assistant. The position has a broad scope of work, from producing the school’s newsletter and uploading data to the website, to taking phone calls and helping pupils who need extra assistance with maths or reading, said Mangateretere School Board member Des Ratima.

“We are loving having her”, said Mrs Stewart. “Michaela has been an enormous help to us; taking the pressure off by completing all the necessary non-teaching jobs that would take us out of the classroom if she was not here. And she is just wonderful with the children. I don’t believe would have coped with our increasing roll without her.”

And Ms Dunn was happy as well. Her favourite part of the job was helping the children.

The position could well become even more vital, said Mr Ratima.

The school was applying to the Ministry of Education to extend the bi-lingual Year 1 to 6 school out to Year 13. “It’s an aspirational goal but we have had early discussions and they are positive. It is about not having so many breaks in education; every time they leave a school to start a new one, there is the potential for our children to lose focus and their way educationally.”

Exciting things were already happening, with 13 senior students receiving laptop computers on Monday, courtesy of Te Taiwhenua o Heretaunga and Takitimu Ora.

Mrs Stewart said the timing of the donation was perfect, with the school also reaching an agreement with PHD student Hanareia Ehau-Taumaunu who is heading to Pennsylvania this month as the Taumaunu Fullbright Science and Innovation Graduate Award Recipient 2017. She will be sharing her scientific findings with Mangateretere School’s students. “This is very exciting for our school; it could not have come at a better time.”