Local teacher chosen to speak at graduation

A Palmerston North early childhood teacher has been picked from thousands to front a crowd of hundreds in honour of his efforts in class.

Tui Early Learners Childcare Centre teacher Robert Jensen will speak to a room of 400 at the New Zealand Tertiary College graduation ceremony in Auckland today.

He was selected from more than 4000 students from the college as an example of an exemplar student.

He is graduating with a Bachelor of Teaching in Early Childhood Education after completing three years of study and was picked as speaker in recognition of his contribution to the college and early childhood education.

Jensen said he was chuffed to be chosen.

"I was absolutely blown away, I had no idea I was anywhere near that level of acknowledgement, it's quite humbling."

Jensen was diagnosed with dyslexia aged 11 and came to early childhood teaching as a second career choice after working as an actor and in communications and marketing.

"I've always struggled with reading and writing so to get an academic qualification and this kudos is quite emotional."

He is using a Maori proverb as the basis of his speech which translates to say: "As we blossom into the world, the world is in turn transformed".

"It's talking about how as students, when we go through the three years of study, we go through that fuzzy green bud into a flower in full blossom," Jensen said.

"In return, the families and children we work with are transformed by the knowledge we acquire through that study."

Jensen is one of about 20 men working among more than 1200 early childhood teachers in the Manawatu/Whanganui area, but said he wouldn't be focusing on that in his speech.

"It's fun and fascinating working with children . . . I'm reminded constantly of the fact I'm working in a woman's world and for me it's more about what we've achieved as a group of students than shining a light on the gender imbalance."

Manawatu Standard