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Our Staff: Jan

Kia ora koutou, hope you all enjoyed a wonderful break over the holidays. We are READY to kickstart this excellent year! Starting with this lovely chat and insight into the teaching experience of Jan 😊

Eight children, three (and a half) teachers – Puketai Residence is, like all Kingslea schools, unique.

A care and protection site, with children aged 8 – 16, in the care of Oranga Tamariki, children stay at Puketai for varying lengths of time. The length of stay is dependent on their individual needs. Jan, the assistant principal, confides “Don’t tell the others, but my school is the best”. Jan is being cheeky, but you can tell she means it – she has been teaching at Puketai for nine years now. The teacher to student ratio, as well as the circumstances of the children, create a very different dynamic to mainstream schools:

“There’s not often one teacher per child, so there is a lot of team teaching. We have less teaching plans, and you have to be really flexible. Things change all the time.”

Unlike a lot of Kingslea schools, Puketai is not fenced and is in the heart of the Andersons Bay community in Dunedin. The children often have multiple complex needs and can be distrustful of new adults. The impact is hard to imagine – helping them to feel safe is the first task. Puketai has a therapeutic way of working, and teachers are trained accordingly. They work with the children on how to self regulate, build relationships, engage, and then move on to reasoning and learning. Each student is taught in a unique way.

Jan and her team get to see a lot of change in the children, and share their successes. Seeing them build good relationships is especially rewarding, but also seeing some achieve NZQA levels, or reintegrate into mainstream school. Activities are focussed on practical skills or skills that the children can use in their free time. Three children have achieved their barista licences in the last few years. It’s so rewarding, just seeing them relax! Jan and her team have a clear fondness for these children, something that shines through whenever talking to Kingslea teachers.

But, it’s not all easy. You can tell that Jan embraces the day-to-day teaching challenges, but the situation of the children is hard “It’s not all about our school. Once the children are in the community, back in the mainstream, they need lots of wrap around support. There are a lot of influencing factors”.

Jan says that to get the most out of Puketai, teachers need to be resilient, flexible, willing to be life long learners and love to work in a team – a good sense of humour will help!

“A lot of ex-students like to stay in touch. They’re just really lovely kids!” shares Jan, unprompted.

Does this sound like your kind of challenge? Please check our Vacancies page, or follow us on LinkedIn for new openings.

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