Margaret Hetley Scholarship winner Jasmine James has a very particular reason for wanting to pursue a career in special education.
The scholarship, which is awarded annually and helps offset an EIT student’s tuition fees, commemorates Margaret Hetley, who gifted land at Ōtātara in Taradale to the people of Hawke’s Bay for a campus.
Jasmine says she is “over the moon” to have been singled out for this year’s honour.
A first-year Bachelor of Teaching (Primary) student, she’s the mother of four children, including a three-year-old living with autism spectrum disorder. Leaning how to communicate with a youngster who struggles with verbal language has spurred her interest in helping children with special needs.
Through her father, Jasmine is Ngāti Kahu, an iwi of Northland. Born in Auckland and schooled in Hamilton, she and her husband moved to Hawke’s Bay to start a family. “It’s important for me to put them first,” she says of their children, who range in age from one to eight.
Jasmine felt she was standing still as a stay-at-home mum.
“I wanted to get into teaching and learn with him,” she says of her son. To that end, she is determined to master the New Zealand sign language and Makaton, which is designed to help those with communication and learning difficulties.
A stint working as a volunteer teacher aide at Ebbett Park School confirmed her interest in teaching. Studying at EIT, she says, “is the next step”.
“I’m very happy to be finally on this journey and I’m going to make the most of it. I’m going to enjoy every aspect of the learning and not focus too much on the place I’m heading once I’ve gained my degree.”
Jasmine “absolutely loves” that the programme is practice-based, with candidate teachers – as EIT calls the degree students – spending two days a week on campus, two days in participating schools and one day in self-directed study.
“It’s important to get out into schools and experience the classroom. You need to be able to practise teaching with children and to feel comfortable with them.”
Eager to make a difference in children’s lives, she’s surprised that tertiary study is also effecting change in her own.
“I’ve come outside myself a lot and feel more confident. I think EIT is definitely a school to be proud of – I’m enjoying my time here.”