Arming himself with tools and knowledge

25 August 2010

Jimmy Burns

Teamwork: University of Waikato student Jimmy Burns is adding teaching to his natural skills.

Jimmy Burns is looking forward to the day when he can return to what he does best – working with and teaching young people – this time armed with a degree in primary teaching.

Jimmy began his three-year Bachelor of Teaching (Primary) at the University of Waikato in Tauranga this year, realising he wanted to equip himself with the academic tools and knowledge to support his natural teaching skills.

Having spent many years competing around the world in waka ama, Jimmy, originally from Rarotonga, decided eight years ago to offer teenagers a once-in-a-lifetime experience in a setting they were bound to relate well to.

“I’d work with a group of kids to train them for an international long-distance ocean race in outrigger canoes. They were still at school and our agreement with each of them was that they had to continue to maintain their school grades while training,” says Jimmy.

“The last event I did was in 2008, and all the kids returned with a medal and, most importantly, a different outlook on life. Being involved in something like that takes teamwork, leadership and respect from everyone. Doing the training instilled life skills and a real sense of understanding of themselves.”

Jimmy is passionate about working with youth and chose to do primary teaching because he wants to help younger children and young teens, whom he says are increasingly facing bigger life problems.

“I can relate really well with older teenagers but can’t use the same techniques with younger kids. I need to learn more about working with younger kids as well as getting the academic knowledge behind me,” he says.

Upon graduating Jimmy intends to work as a primary teacher initially but has plans to offer youth life skills programmes to a range of schools, with waka ama being the main focus.

Jimmy first came to New Zealand in October 1999 when he sailed via waka from Rarotonga for the Millennium celebrations. He met his wife – who is from Tauranga – that Christmas and they now have three children.

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