“‘Inspired by U’ is a website designed to recognise and celebrate teachers and educators who have made a difference to their student’s lives,” Ms Parata says.
The website invites people to go online and write a virtual postcard to the teacher that inspired them most.
Around 200 prominent New Zealanders, including Prime Minister John Key, have taken part and written to a former teacher telling them why they inspired them.
“I am very fortunate that I can remember a range of teachers who inspired me throughout all my years of education”, says Ms Parata.
“I’d like that to be the experience of every young New Zealander, and that’s why we have been investing in a programme of initiatives to raise the quality of teaching and leadership, and keep, grow, and attract the best in to the profession”.
“I think everyone can remember at least one teacher who had a real impact on their time at school and the ‘Inspired by U’ initiative is a great way of recognising those teachers,” says Ms Parata.
“Celebrating excellence in education is an important part of the Government’s commitment to raising the status of the teaching profession, and publicly acknowledging the powerful contribution the profession makes to lifting overall student achievement.
“Hosting the International Summit on the Teaching Profession in March together with Festivals of Education in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, introducing the Prime Minister’s Education Excellence Awards, establishing the new professional body EDUCANZ, and the $359million investment into better career pathways, are all part of acknowledging the profession, raising its status, and recognising the critical contribution that quality education achievement makes to the future prosperity of New Zealand,” says Ms Parata. . .
The website is here and members of the public are invited to send a post card to teachers who inspired them.
The Prime Minister’s message is to Mr Hughes of Burnside High School.
I was inspired by you because you had a love, passion and great knowledge of economics. You added to my desire to make a difference to New Zealand. Kind Regards.
Hekia Parata acknowledges Mrs Fitzpatrick of Ngata Memorial College,
I was inspired by you because you encouraged my love of reading, broadened my taste in literature, bolstered my confidence when other kids thought it was pretty nerdy and you were big on “big words” (though not bureaucratic ones!!).
Nga mihi – Thanks!
Nikki Kaye pays tribute to Mrs Eadie of Corran School:
I was inspired by you because you are such a positive person. At school I really admired you and learned from your ability to be so positive and strong no matter how level the discussions were. I will be eternally grateful for the moment where you believed in me and told me to take the harder but better path when I could have gone the wrong way. Your belief in me gave me the confidence at a really important time on my life. I think life would be very different if that moment of belief had not of happened. I often reflect on that particularly when young people come to me for advice and help. Thank you.
Sir Peter Leitch thanks Mrs Main of Wellington Tech:
Thanks for teaching outside the square – you gave me HOPE! It gave me the confidence to believe in myself, to go out into the workforce and have a go. Because of that I found the will to fight against the odds and created the Mad Butcher- so thank you for having faith in me.
Sir Michael Hill thanks Mr Green of Whangarei Intermediate:
Whangarei Intermediate School was a very sporty school and you were the music teacher and played the violin very nicely. Even if you thought of playing the violin there – you were a sissy but I loved the sound of it and I used to sit outside your room while you played and decided to take it up. As a result, music has been with me all my life.
Henare Kingi is an elder statesman of the Ngāpuhi tribe, a founding broadcaster of New Zealand’s first Māori Radio station, Te Ūpoko o Te Ika, and a recognised scholar of Te Reo Māori.
When I graduated from University, Henare stood to congratulate me, however, he chose to do so thus:
“E taku tamaiti, ahakoa he aha rawa tāu e whai ai i tēnei ao, kia mahara ake koe ki ēnei kupu ā tō matua: Whakaiti, whakaiti, whakaiti.”
“My child, no matter what you choose to do in this world, remember these words of your elder: through humility comes humanity.”
Whilst I have struggled at times to embody this lofty notion in an industry that encourages one to rise above one’s peers, it is a statement I have tried to cleave to, modeled by a man who continues to inspire me in all that I do.
Anna thanks Ms McKinnon of Iona College:
You created a great environment for learning. We all knew what was expected of us and what would happen if we fell short of your standards. As we became older and moved from social studies and into the individual classes of history and classics you fostered debate between young women and allowed us to voice our opinions and helped show us the road to self-education. Because of you I have a LOVE of history, so much it even became one of my University majors. Thank you.
Kate acknowledges Mr Whiteside of Taradale High:
Six weeks to go and I was on course to fail School Certificate mathematics. I had given up on myself. For some reason my homeroom/maths teacher (you) decided to save me. For six weeks you voluntarily tutored me after school – slowly and painstakingly teaching me, but most importantly, restoring my self-belief. Your patience and understated encouragement enabled me to pass – only two marks off an A grade! Thanks Mr Whiteside your a truly inspiring teacher.
Dallas thanks Mrs Hanna of Papatoetoe High:
You were my English teacher at Papatoetoe High School in 1968 and 1969. What made the difference? You cared! You cared about me not only as a learner but as a vulnerable teenage girl judged by most teachers at the school by the behaviour of my older brother. You took time to know me not only as a learner but as a person in my own world. The result – I LEARNED well in your class.
Esther thanks Sister Lidwina of St Joseph’s Catholic School, Morrinsville:
You were my first teacher in New Zealand when I was nine years old. I was incredibly lucky that you were able to speak some of my language but what made you really special was the time that you took to get to know my family. You really helped us all to feel welcome and confident in our strange new country.
Clayton thanks Mrs Hedger of Opononi Area School:
When I think of influential teachers in my life, you were one of them. You gave me a chance when I was naughty and you were always there. Thanks so much – I will always remember you.