Local Hero happy to help

00:20, Nov 27 2013
Jim Risner
BY THE NUMBERS: Local Heroes award winner Jim Risner gives student Damien Lines, 14, one-on-one maths tuition at Nayland College.

Jim Risner made a difference for one person this year - but a big one.

The Nayland College maths teacher took the time to tutor student Damien Lines.

Mr Risner doesn't think he's done anything different from what any other Nayland teacher would do.

But Damien's mother Julia was impressed, so she nominated Mr Risner for the annual Kiwibank Local Heroes awards, and last night was at a function where he was presented with a medal.

"He's a fantastic teacher and very caring person," she said.

Despite working part-time, Mr Risner would turn up early to help her son with one-on-one tuition, she said.


Year 9 student Damien, 14, reckons Mr Risner is a good teacher and now describes maths as fun.

Mrs Lines said Mr Risner had built up a rapport with her son, who has Aspergers syndrome, and he had gained confidence.

Mr Risner said they had a pretty good relationship. "I grew up nerdy, so I relate to him."

Mr Risner, who previously worked in IT for Aon Insurance in London, is a first-year teacher who majored in English and media studies.

It has been a year of learning for both student and teacher.

"I am by far the greenest teacher in the maths department, but hopefully I have made a difference for Damien," he said. "His maths is much better."

Mr Risner, who comes from Maryland, United States, has a passion for ultimate frisbee, and has used that to build the confidence of another student.

Nayland's team lost every game to Nelson College but the student made new friends.

Mr Risner and four Local Heroes from Marlborough were recognised for their contributions at last night's function at Petit Fleur at Seifried Estate.

This year 240 nominations were received nationally, with 115 Local Heroes selected to receive medals.

A national winner will be celebrated at the New Zealander of the Year gala awards presentation dinner in Auckland in February.