For many years a lack of confidence stopped Sara Hallgarth from following her dream to be a teacher, but tomorrow (Friday, 4 August) she will graduate with a Bachelor of Teaching (Primary) from the Tairāwhiti Campus of EIT | Te Pūkenga.
Born and bred in Gisborne, Sara, 39, is a mother of two young girls who has studied a range of subjects from driving training to te reo in the past. But it was always teaching where her heart lay.
“I’ve always wanted to do it, but never really had the confidence. So yeah, as soon as the kids got older and things were getting easier for us, I knew that it was time.”
“It was tough juggling because my husband, William, and I own a business, Peak Construction Gisborne, so it was hard to juggle life and things, but I feel like the lecturers there were so supportive, and they only ever wanted us to succeed. So having their support all the time was great.”
The highlight of the degree for Sara was the practical component which sees students spend two days per week getting practical training at local schools.
“It was fantastic. I was with experienced teachers throughout my training, so every teacher that I had as a mentor teacher had 20 plus years of experience so I was really lucky..”
The three years of study have not been without its challenges with Sara referring to her and her classmates as “the COVID graduates”.
Sara, who finished her degree in November last year, is now teaching at Mangapapa School in Gisborne, where she did her last practicum and where she also went to school as a young girl.
“I have come full circle and my girls also attended Mangapapa. I have great connections here. My nieces and nephews and family have gone through the school, so I just felt really connected. ”
She says that the degree at EIT | Te Pūkenga prepared her for the rigours of being a teacher of young primary school students.
“I think EIT really prepared us for that shock of reality, because the paperwork side does correlate to what we’re doing now. We have our expectations and EIT had their expectations and they are similar to being a teacher, even though we moaned about it a lot, that we had so much to do. But that’s the reality of being a teacher.”
Sara says she is keen to study further but is now focused on getting her registration as a teacher.
Before that she has the not so small matter of graduation, an event her family, including her daughters, Emily, 13 and Rosie, 11, will be attending.
Emma McFadyen, a lecturer in Primary Education at EIT | Te Pūkenga Tairāwhiti, says: “Sara is one teacher from a cohort of twelve who will be graduating this year. It will be a moment of sheer joy for the teaching team and partnership schools as we watch this cohort cross the stage at graduation. Each individual has their own story, involving highs and lows, to get to this point in their journey, and they should be incredibly proud of their achievements.”