A Christchurch teacher who formed an intimate relationship with a 16-year-old student and kissed him is appearing before the New Zealand Teachers Disciplinary Tribunal in Wellington this morning.
The female teacher, who has interim name suppression, is charged with forming an inappropriate relationship with the boy by befriending him on social media and kissing him.
She is also accused of forming an inappropriate relationship with at least two female students by having inappropriate personal conversations with them, and telling them about her secret relationship with the male student.
The teacher, who was 24 and in her first year of teaching when the offences occurred, said she'd had suicidal thoughts since, and was indecisive about coming to give evidence before the tribunal.
"But part of me accepting my actions is also accepting the consequences that follow," she said.
She had been working as an art teacher at her old high school at the time and said she could relate better to her students than her colleagues.
The respondent said she "felt really bad" about what she'd done.
She is seeing a psychologist to address her issues and learn how to make strategies around boundaries and say no to people.
She accepted her actions had implications for the students involved "and they are going to have to live with that for the rest of their lives".
She said she had been trying to help the student she kissed after he broke up with a girlfriend and began suffering from depression. She felt "kind of responsible for him". But, she said, "I've become one of them".
The student toldher about his suicidal thoughts and as she had two friends who had committed suicide, she said, she did not want the student to do the same. However, she recognised she was not the right person to address the student's issues.
"I should have seen the signs earlier and should have spoke out and got some more professional help and people more qualified to do it."
Everything, including her health and professional responsibilities, had "piled up" on her.
"I knew it was wrong and I didn't know how to get out, I was stuck."
The inappropriate relationships with the female students involved trips with the girls, letting them into her flat, sharing personal information with them, calling them her friends and buying presents.
At least one of the girls said she stopped wanting to come to school or go to art classes because of it.
The woman resigned after the offences and says she does not plan to return to teaching in the immediate future.
She has bought a one-way ticket to Europe to immerse herself in the culture and regain her passion for it.
In the meantime, she was working with high school students in her new job at a supermarket butchery, and said she was making sure to keep her distance.
The charges were brought by the Complaints Assessment Committee.