I hope you won’t mind me sharing a story with you from my last school - Kaiapoi Borough.
Believing In Kids - Giving Them Someone They Can Believe In - Living Proof It Works:
At Kaiapoi Borough School we received a lot of visits from ex pupils eager to stay in touch with us, keen to share how successful they have been at High School, and wanting to thank us for the ways we have supported them. Recently I had a visit from an ex pupil who called in to share where he is at in his learning journey, his sporting progress and his personal growth as a young man and a leader.
As I listened to him speak of the impact our school and our people had had on his life, I was almost moved to tears.
Kurt spoke of how he had been a tearaway, a thief, quick to turn an argument into a fist fight and with a “I don’t want to know” attitude.
Our staff persevered with Kurt and worked hard to build a relationship with him. I spoke often with Kurt about our values and our belief in him.
Kurt shared how those things stuck with him - how he came to realise the importance of goals and the huge importance of honest and regular reflection.
Kurt uses reflection in all aspects of his life. If he misses a crucial drop-kick in a league game, he doesn’t beat himself up over it, he reflects on what he did and what he could do differently to be successful next time.
Kurt reflected on the pathway he was taking at High School. He realised it was leading him down a one-way path to a wasted life.
Kurt joined a group called “Tama ki Tane” (Boys to Men) at Kaiapoi High School after the Counsellor there and a senior Maori student both took him aside and asked him to reflect on where he was going, what he was trying to achieve and who he was trying to impress. Now, as a year 12 Kurt can look back on a complete change in his life. He achieved a Merit in English last year. He has passed Level One NCEA. He is trialling for the Melbourne Storm Rugby League club and he is the first Year 12 Chief of the Tama ki Tane ropu at Kaiapoi High School.
I invited Kurt to come and speak to our staff on a Monday morning - a number of them were all but moved to tears also.
Kurt thanked them for putting up with him, for persevering, for caring and for giving him a foundation of skills and practices that set him up for success in the end. Kurt did this as a way of giving something back. He took a lot of satisfaction in being able to do this and he will be coming back in his own time to speak to our year five to eight students.
We don’t always work miracles overnight, but what we do does pay off sooner or later.
Here Is A Response from My Ex Board Chairperson:
Awesome story about Kurt. I am sitting here with tears in my eyes knowing that every word is true and well spoken. I watched Kurt perform in Kapa Haka at recent high school events and I could see the pride and passion he had in doing a good job. You are so right that encouragement and belief that children’s innate goodness will shine through is very important for all adults working with children, especially those who need extra guidance.
Another student who is doing remarkably well is Ammaron. I remember he also needed some special guidance from the KBS Board when I was there. My heart swells with pride when I see what a talented and hardworking young man Ammaron is turning into.
Both these boys/men needed the KBS and wider village to believe in them – well done for championing this positive and supportive approach to our children.
Greetings to all the families and friends of Western Heights school.