University students back together again at Tauranga school

15 April 2014

Tauranga Teachers

New Tauranga Intermediate School teachers, from left: Ashton Hawke, Kristin Potaka, Jess Boerema

The saying “best friends stick together” has rung true for three former University of Waikato students, who are now all teaching together at Tauranga Intermediate school, having flatted together in Hamilton while studying.

Two of the trio, Jess Boerema and Kristin Potaka, graduate in Hamilton tomorrow after completing conjoint degrees in Primary Teaching and Sport and Leisure Studies. They joined their former flatmate Ashton Hawke who began working at the school last July. Kristin and Ashton are both former Tauranga Girls College students and Jess attended Waikato Diocesan.

A Winning Combination

The pair are delighted to have secured positions in Tauranga so soon after graduating and believe their second degree was a big help, especially with sport being such a big part of the school. All three will have sporting team responsibilities during the winter season.

Tauranga Intermediate School Principal Brian Diver says the new staff members exemplify everything the school looks for in young teachers. “They are high-energy, independent thinkers and are outstanding role models for emerging adolescents. New Zealand is fortunate to have such well-trained young people committed to the vocation of teaching.”

Challenges in the Classroom 

Despite the challenge of taking on classes of their own for the first time, Kristin and Jess have relished the new experience and have quickly established their classroom routines. They have also learnt that flexibility is a key teacher trait.

“You quickly learn that with so many activities happening around the school, you have to be flexible to change plans and adapt lessons,” says Jess. “Every day is different and it’s a real buzz when the students are having such a fun time learning.”

Kristin agrees: “When you see a student so proud of what they have achieved, or helping a friend with their work, then you know you are in the right job.”

Study Options

While Kristin entered University straight from school, Jess and Ashton both delayed study for a year, with Jess taking a gap year in the UK and Ashton opting to complete a one semester university preparation course prior to applying for her Bachelor in Teaching.

“I had always wanted to be a teacher but doing the university preparation course was the best decision for me because it gave me the confidence to know that I could manage tertiary study,” says Ashton. “Once I did that I never looked back.”

Jess and Kristin will graduate in Hamilton on Tuesday 15 April at the Claudelands Events Centre.

Latest stories