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Stacey Wheeler

2012-2014 / Bachelor of Teaching (Henderson Campus)

My fondest memories of Laidlaw are all centred around the people and the adventures we shared together during our three years. I don't just mean my classmates either – the lecturers were often at the heart of these! I remember lunch as a class at Lyn Rombouts’ house, welcomed into her home as if we were family. Studying Te Reo with Linda and Warahi, listening to their stories and learning from their wisdom. Yvonne, Lyn and Dianne were like our second mums. I remember numerous times being hugged and told "everything will be okay, you can do it and we will help you"... and they did!

I remember laughter in the lecture rooms, no question too stupid. I remember being the "mature student" of our year. I remember singing with the campus worship team and being part of a community of like-minded people. I remember making friends with people from all walks of life, of all ages, of all races. I remember my daughter becoming part of this bigger family with many aunts who also lived close-by on campus.

I had always wanted to become a teacher but as a solo mum I thought I had to let go of that dream. Laidlaw created a space that was gentle, accepting and ensured that I was supported in a way that made my dream of becoming an educator a reality. I felt nurtured. I remember feeling that I was struggling to be a mum and a student at the same time, and one of the lecturers sat with me and taught me some strategies to ensure that my daughter got the time she needed, as well as me getting the time I needed to study. This was bigger than just learning about education; I felt as though I was being given life skills and I still use them today. We were cared for as a family, not just as a student.

I was offered a teaching position at my dream school. I went there myself as a student, my daughter attended there and it was always my goal to end up there.

I am currently still at the same school and am in my seventh year, though my position now is not a classroom teacher but a Performing Arts specialist teacher. I see every class, every week and teach a range of skills within the Arts. I don't have any special qualification for this, but what I do have is passion. I also run two Performing Arts academies within the school. I get to direct musicals, choirs, dance groups and work with students to increase their public speaking abilities. I never imagined that I would get to do what I love every single day. As well as this, every year I have the absolute privilege of leading our Year 8 students over the Tongariro Crossing (we always do a dance when we reach the summit). This is their final camp and is a very special time as they are about to head off to high school. It's my favourite week of the year, a week in the mountains, surrounded by God's awesome creation and making an impact in the lives of our future generations.

I am grateful for the opportunities God has provided in so many different ways. He always guided me in decision making and gave us what we needed to thrive. God has given us friendships that have lasted through marriages, babies and moving to other countries. I have a core group of people in my world because God placed us together to do this journey. I will forever be grateful to God for the time we spent in the Laidlaw family.

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