Teacher's classy example
New classroom, new desk, new stationery.
The first day of school is a big deal for any youngster and for big kid Stephanie Ikinofo it's no different.
The beginner teacher has spent the last couple of weeks preparing room two at Waikowhai Primary School for the occasion and she is just as excited as the five and six-year-olds who will be bounding into class on Monday.
"I keep thinking, it's my first day of school what am I going to wear?," the 26-year-old laughs.
Miss Ikinofo graduated from teacher's college mid-2011 and began working as a relief teacher at the Hillsborough-based school late last year.
The Mt Albert resident says she was delighted to be offered a full-time role amid a competitive job climate.
"Prior to getting that, I would be applying for jobs up against 100 other people, including experienced teachers as well as beginning teachers."
Before attending teacher's college Miss Ikinofo completed three years study in psychology and sociology at the University of Auckland.
She also worked on a telephone helpline for children aged five to 18, where she discovered a passion for working with youth.
"If I'm feeling rubbish in the morning and then I come to school, I am surrounded by all this amazing energy from the kids, it's the best. They are so funny and so free."
Her relieving experience at Waikowhai means there will be some familiar faces in her 15-member class and Miss Ikinofo is keen to work with the children to establish their own ground rules on the first day. A collaborative brainstorm between teacher and students will help form guidelines to set the tone for the year ahead.
"The first week is all about building up the classroom environment, which means setting up our class treaty.
"We look at our classroom rules, so how we want our class to be, and getting the kids to come up with ideas as opposed to me saying ‘welcome to the class, this is what is going to happen'."
Despite having a solid action plan Miss Ikinofo says it has been difficult preparing for class without a cache of resources from previous years.
To gather materials she has been trawling op-shops and making things.
A library corner is graced with an umbrella that has been converted into a shady palm tree and an alphabet snake lies strewn across the ground.
"The second-hand shop is good for jigsaws and books and stuff," she says.
"I've spent probably close to $500, just to buy little things that add up, but it's good because it's things I can always use again."