July 27, 2020, 3:43 p.m.
Eight years ago, Myles Ferris (Ngāti Porou) came to Te Kura o Otangarei and found a school in crisis. Teachers were frustrated and students were fearful. Despite only being there as an interim principal, he knew that he couldn't leave until everyone felt safe and the students were learning again. Now, instead of 25 reported incidents of violence in one week, they had only one for the whole year.
Ferris believes, "They're not a naughty child...they're actually sending us a message that they're actually in pain". By recognising intergenerational trauma and listening to the students, the school was able to become a safe environment for everybody. Through high-levels of engagement, trauma-informed practice and bringing tikanga Māori to the heart of the school, smiles have returned to the faces of the students.
An emotional Ferris said "When you actually see the lift and the sparkle in a child's eyes because you've made a difference in their life. But I just love seeing the smiles on the kids faces and I love when they've learnt something that's been really challenging. I'm incredibly proud of my staff. My staff work incredibly hard and they love and care about our students and our community. So, yeah, I'm a really proud leader of this awesome school".
WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE to learn more about how they turned their school around.