Festival of Adult Learning (Ahurei Ākonga) ran this year from 1st to 8th September 2019
It is an opportunity to celebrate the successes and achievements of everyone participating in Adult and Community Education (ACE).
It has also become a way to encourage anyone in the wider community with needs or desires that can be met through learning to consider adult education, whether it be learning to adjust to life in a new country, re-training to find employment, adjusting to life after prison, acquiring parenting skills or just getting out and doing an activity to make life better and meet people.
To mark the week, we nominated one learner for the Outstanding Learner Award and one for the Lifelong Learner Award and both were overall winners in their category. We nominated two tutors for Exceptional Educator. All nominees received certificates at the award ceremonies on Saturday 7th September during the Festival of Learning at the Te Atatu Peninsula Community Centre.
Congratulations to them all for their hard work.
Our Outstanding Learner winner was Edward Sosene.
Edward’s life, health and financial circumstances mean that he doesn’t always have enough money for phone top ups or bus fares. And despite his challenges with literacy he persists, overcoming obstacles and keeping on his learning journey.
Kind, caring, giving and even-tempered, Edward has a soft, warm sense of humour even in the most difficult of situations. He never puts down or teases his fellow learners, always says something encouraging to them, is welcoming of others and with his lovely attitude, is a pleasure to have in the group.
Being able to articulate what he wants to learn and how he wants to learn it, Edward “knows what he doesn’t know” – an important insight. His life experience and maturity give him intelligence that he shares with the other students.
Edwards’s motivation for coming is that he enjoys learning and wants to keep at it to improve his life. He shows consistency in the way that he learns, is organised in the way he keeps his notes and structures his learning. He is able to get himself a job and has the confidence to advocate for himself and others if necessary.
Edward is also a talented artist and impresses everyone with his illustrations.
“I like coming here because it makes me feel good.”
Our Lifelong Learner winner was James Davis.
Committed to re-educating himself in whatever form that may be and for however long that may take, couple that commitment with passion and you get James Davis. To learn as much as he can to understand the finer points of literacy. To learn all the tools that will take him through a pathway of ‘wows’ and enlightenment, not to mention one of relief in knowing that as an adult and a solo dad it is never too late to learn. James has been with Literacy Waitakere since 2006. He has journeyed with us from the valley of Henderson to the suburbia of New Lynn, from job to job and through his different work qualifications.
James wanted to be better, to improve his reading and writing skills, to make and have better choices not only for himself but more importantly for his children. As they grew so too did their homework, the words in their reading books were harder not only to read but to comprehend the context in which they had been used. But James has stayed true to the goal he set for himself back in 2006 to re-educate himself, to learn whatever he needed to, no matter how long it would take.
James has been an inspiration to his children, his fellow workers and wider family by realising he needed help and having the confidence to take those first steps. James has most certainly filled his toolbox with many of the tools needed for such a journey and being able to use them in every aspect of life.
Our Exceptional Educator nominees this year were Sandy Johnston and Anne White.
Sandy Johnston demonstrates a long-standing dedication, enthusiasm for, and commitment to, adult literacy. With fifteen/sixteen years’ experience, she is very skilled at working with both ESOL learners and learners with English as their first language. Her learners range from those with a very elementary knowledge of English, or an extremely basic level of literacy in their own language, to much more competent ESOL learners, requiring flexibility and versatility of the tutor.
Her affection for her learners is obvious, and she has voluntarily continued to maintain relationships with some of her previous learners for years. Adding small personal touches, such as fresh flowers and herbs from her garden, Sandy takes care to create a supportive learning environment in which students feel nurtured, listened to and encouraged.
She devotes much thought and time to her preparation, producing creative and original resources, often charmingly drawn by hand. For instance, she originated a picture system of evaluation which other tutors have adopted.
Yet she is always aware of the specific needs and interests of her students, ensuring their involvement and collaboration. Her students sense the care taken by Sandy, and respond accordingly, being able to relax and develop their skills. She is also quick to recognize the truth of ‘ako’ – “Sometimes teacher, sometimes learner” and is open to ways in which to advance her own learning, such as knowledge of te reo Maori.
Anne White has a background in nursing and while working in a Detox Unit identified a common difficulty her patients faced was low levels of literacy. This sparked her desire to find a practical way to help improve the lives of people who struggle with literacy, so in 2015 Anne began training at Literacy Waitakere to become a literacy tutor.
As a tutor, Anne works with groups of adult learners seeking to improve their literacy and communication skills in order to live full and independent lives. She works with a wide range of learners, including people with special needs, mental health issues and pre-literate mother tongue refugees. Anne embraces the concept of ‘Ako’ – sometimes teacher, sometimes learner.
Anne delivers creative learning sessions designed to address the specific needs and learning styles of her learners. She continually reflects on her teaching to ensure that learners’ needs are met as well as encouraging learners to evaluate their own learning and progress. Anne’s gentle, empathetic personality ensures learners feel valued and respected while they work towards their goals.