Dannevirke's Amanda Weir reckons education is about relationships. The Huia Range School teacher talks to Mark Story after picking up the Young Educator of the Year Award.

To what do you attribute your recent honour?
I have found having a mentor (in my case, the deputy principal) and supportive colleagues has given me the confidence to teach my kids in a way that inspires them. They make my day fun, rewarding so I am more motivated to do a good job. I attribute my passion to them!

What are the benefits of working in a small community school?
It gives teachers the opportunity to develop a close relationship with not only their own students but with other students in the school. The feeling of community and interconnectedness is one of the perks of working in a small school. Of course, this is possible at any school, but it's more easily facilitated at small schools.

Working in this environment has allowed me to develop my own leadership skills, I have been able to undertake new initiatives for the school which I may not have had the chance to do in a larger school.

What advice would you have for aspiring young teachers?
I once heard that education is all about relationships. Building good relationships. Everything flows from that. Establishing respect, trust and having realistic expectations is key. I stand by this as my teaching philosophy and would encourage aspiring teachers to take this on board too.

Do you agree with the adage that education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire?
Absolutely, students should be feeling inspired to learn and make a difference. Teachers need to be encouraging students to take risks, learning from their mistakes and accepting challenges that will inspire/encourage them to be the best person they can be.

What's the biggest myth about the teaching profession?
It is a common misconception that teachers finish their workday at 3pm and have ample amount of time during the year off. Teaching is one of the most emotionally involved jobs out there, we engage in the lives of 20-plus students every day. We are constantly in tune, thinking about our students' academic achievement, home lives, and their happiness at school. We dedicate a lot of time to ensure we are providing our students with the best start to education and hope that our dedication and enthusiasm for the job inspires them to want to be lifelong learners.

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