Determination and hard work has seen Sarah Christensen-Gilmore not only achieve her Bachelor of Teaching Primary (BTP) degree from EIT, but also land a fulltime role as an intermediate schoolteacher.
Sarah, 27, admits that she did not make the most of school and left Tamatea High School early in her last year to enter the job market.
“I didn’t have motivation, and, at that stage, I wasn’t interested in learning.”
But it was during a period of time doing various jobs that she found her true calling. Years later, she is now almost two months into her role as a Year 7 teacher at Napier Intermediate.
“Teaching has always been something that I possibly wanted to do, but I do believe that if I had started it sooner than I did, it would not have had the great outcomes that I have now.”
There is no doubt that the road to her dream role has been challenging, but well worth it.
“I jumped around a few different jobs, but they were never really anything I wanted to do. Then I started working in after school care in 2015 and ended up loving working with the kids.”
An important factor in Sarah taking the after school care role was that her younger sister, Hunter, was enrolled in the programme.
“My sister is 14 years younger than me, and we are a very close family. It was just my mum, sister and me, and my sister was born with higher needs, so I was very involved. It suddenly occurred to me that it may be a career to pursue, so I made it happen.”
This was not as easy as it sounds, as initially she did not meet the criteria for the maths entry assessment and was not selected for the BTP.
“So, then I decided that I would do the NZ Certificate in Study and Career Preparation [Level 4], which was education, social work and healthcare focused.”
“The certificate offered a good platform to get back into studying and writing academically, because it is something that you forget after being out of school for a few years.”
Sarah passed the programme and says the support of the Bachelor of Teaching Primary Programme Coordinator, Dr Emily Nelson, gave her the encouragement to strive to achieve her goals.
She was determined to improve her maths and did so over three years of hard work.
“I just didn’t want to give up. I decided that it was time for me to do it and I wasn’t really willing to stop until I did,” says Sarah.
It has all worked out well for Sarah, who now lives with her partner, George, in Napier and is enjoying her new role as a teacher at Napier Intermediate School.
She may have achieved her ambition, but Sarah still has aspirations to study further.
“I would like to do my Master’s, maybe focussing on higher needs learning.”
Emily says that Sarah is a good example of a graduate who was determined and persevered, over-coming adversity along the way.
“She came into the Primary Teaching degree from the NZ Certificate in Study and Career Preparation [Level 4], which is a great way to start to gain an academic foundation before embarking on degree-level study. “
“Sarah also found her passion through her previous work experience and with supporting her sister. We are delighted that she has found her niche teaching at an intermediate school inspiring Year 7 and 8 students to follow their dreams.”