Earthquakes 'turning point' for Nelson's favourite teacher Trina Wilkinson

Jared Duncan's life turned around once Trina Wilkinson became his teacher.
CARLY GOOCH / STUFF

Jared Duncan's life turned around once Trina Wilkinson became his teacher.

FAVOURITE TEACHER AWARDS: From the Christchurch quake tragedy to Parliament's select committees, we're travelling the country to meet some of New Zealand's best teachers.

Jared Duncan battled through primary school until one Broadgreen Intermediate teacher turned his life around, his mum says.

Tina Duncan said before her son "struck gold" in Trina Wilkinson's class he struggled at school, was put down by his teachers and his writing was below average. "I am so proud of his turnaround in attitude and that's all down to Trina believing in him."

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Wilkinson has been named the Nelson winner of the Favourite Teacher Awards, a partnership between Stuff, TVNZ Breakfast and Matilda, the Musical. The overall winner will be named on Sunday.

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Duncan nominated her for being Jared's "life changer". Wilkinson will now go up against the rest of New Zealand's best regional teachers for national honours.

Broadgreen Intermediate teacher Trina Wilkinson has received the Favourite Teacher Award.
CARLY GOOCH / STUFF

Broadgreen Intermediate teacher Trina Wilkinson has received the Favourite Teacher Award.

The transition from primary to intermediate was Jared's chance to wipe the slate clean and "make the most of it", Duncan said.

At the end of primary school, teachers write a summary about each pupil to pass on to intermediate teachers. 

Duncan said Wilkinson didn't read the reports until a few weeks into first term "because she wanted to make her own opinion".

"She's not prejudiced, she wants everyone to succeed and have goals and be the best they can be."

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Wilkinson has been teaching for 10years, starting in Christchurch before leaving there a few years ago to join her partner in Nelson.

Getting into teaching was her calling. She said she wanted to be a teacher to "make a difference in kids' lives".

A turning point in Wilkinson's career was being in class when Canterbury was going through devastating earthquakes.

"I always just wanted the kids to know they're safe with me, safe in their learning and safe in the decisions they make.

"Kids at this age group see through you very quickly. I share my life with them and tell them what's going on. I'm a real person to them.

"I'm sure we've all had teachers who just teach and that's it, so I do just try and make it authentic learning and finding ways to make them succeed."

Going the extra mile, Wilkinson often stays behind to chat to her students about life outside of school.

She said she lets them know she's there to listen.

As part of being a "real person" to her students, Wilkinson said she also watches them play their weekend sports or dance competitions.. 

Wilkinson's commitment to making a difference in students lives is evident to Broadgreen principal Derek Lucic. 

"She's bold and she's confident. She relates really well to kids, she has an empathy with them regardless of what their background is. Not everyone is able to do that but she's able to do that in a genuine way."

FAVOURITE TEACHER AWARDS REGIONAL WINNERS

Northland: Jenny Bassett
Auckland: Bex Rose
Bay of Plenty: Scott Feisst
Waikato: Richard Lloyd
Hawkes Bay/East Cape: Janene Maloney​
Taranaki: Sue Gunn
​Manawatu/Whanganui: Heidi Lutz
Wellington: Matt Johnston
Nelson: Trina Wilkinson
Marlborough: Robyn Anderson
Canterbury/West Coast: Carmen Street
​South Canterbury/Otago: Di Anderson
Southland: Elaine Forde

 - Sunday Star Times

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