Posted by Br Gary Wilson FSC
on 8 March 2021
Paulene Walsh reports that in November 2015 a faith-based "Kahui Ako" was established to develop a connected, collaborative community of Catholic schools in the Bay of Plenty and Waikato. The "Forest Hub" includes the secondary John Paul College, primary schools St Mary's and St Michael's Rotorua, Bishop Edward Gains Tokoroa and St Mary's Putaruru. The "Seaside Hub" is Aquinas Secondary School Tauranga, St Thomas More Mount Maunganui, Suzanne Aubert Papamoa, St Joseph's Opotiki (opened February 2021), and St Mary's Tauranga. This "Community of Learning" sees many initiatives and shared learning benefits.
The Executive Summary describes the "Kahui Ako encompassing a web of interconnected pathways which support the journey of our tamariki from early childhood to tertiary, and beyond to the workforce. Every educator walking alongside our tamariki has an integral role on the journey and is part of the life of each child". The network has been strengthened in several ways. One way has been the strong relationships of the Principals, and the commitment of the Catholic schools. Another is teachers dedicating time, travel and sharing resources. A third is utilising the Rotorua Ministry of Education Vocational Pathways programs which link into tertiary and trades education. (The primary schools are seeking connections with business partners within their local communities).
Paulene reports that the Ministry of Education in Rotorua has been available, and very keen to support the growth via attention to the cluster's data, resources and networks. Rotorua Energy Trust has been keen to support and provide sponsorship to its Rotorua Whanau (families). RECT has promised to provide funding for professional development in 2021. "It has provided funding for schools for the last 30 years - an amazing legacy".
Naturally, there have been some problems with different primary and secondary processes and pedagogies, documentation for funding etc. Despite these issues, the vision is "to know the educational thumbprint of each and every child. Once we know this, and each student's story, we can't help but to succeed". Learning support for co- ordinators was rolled out February 2020. One big focus for 2021 is cultural inclusiveness.
The Founder knew a lot about "Association", finding patrons for funding, and pastoral concern. As Paulene says: "John Baptist de La Salle understood the value of education and aroha (love): 'To touch the hearts of young people is the greatest and long-lasting miracle we can perform'".
Kia Kaha, Kia Maia, Kia Manawanui (Be Strong, Be Brave, and Be Steadfast).