Learning Centre Graduates Embark on Science, Engineering, Media and More
Engineering, criminal justice, nursing, science, media, agriculture, psychology and veterinary studies are just some of the tertiary pathways our 2022 Learning Centre graduates are embarking on for next year.
The current Year 13 cohort of students with learning differences will embark on a range of exciting adventures, including one of the four highly sought-after apprenticeships at Lake Coleridge Station, a gap year to Camp America and travel around Europe.
The students have been part of Rangi Ruru’s Learning Centre, which supports students who learn differently and therefore may require support to achieve to their potential. Students can need assistance to overcome challenges such as ADHD, dyslexia, dysgraphia, Autistic Spectrum Disorder and dyspraxia. However, others may need some help of guidance with a particular subject or assignment.
Leader of Learning Support Rebecca Meachen says a photo of the leavers adorned with their plans for the future will hang in the Learning Centre to inspire other students on their own learning journeys.
“When new students, and not just at Year 7 or 9, come into the Learning Centre they and their families can’t always see this pathway ahead, but we can. Having this photo here, they can look at what these students who were once in the exact same position have taken themselves off to do.
“It is also wonderful to see students being open about not knowing what they want to do, and we have included that, too—because for some students that is a reality and it is completely fine to say that.”
Year 13 leaver Sienna O’Shannessey is one of the Learning Centre graduates planning to study a Bachelor of Applied Science next year. She intends to do so at Otago Polytechnic, but she was also offered two scholarships to the University of Otago.
“I am severely dyslexic, so I am really bad at reading and spelling and sometimes it takes me quite a while to process what someone is explaining to me and to learn information. I find paper hard to read and the same with looking at the board at the front of the classroom.
“The Learning Centre has been amazing, the main thing it has given me is so much comfort and support. It takes a lot of pressure off you—you go in there and they understand you and you can just be honest. Whereas sometimes in the classroom you feel embarrassed or not comfortable to admit you need extra help.
“With their help you get through everything step by step. They keep an eye on you and make sure you’re getting your work in and that you don’t feel like you’re by yourself and that people are there for you which is so amazing to have.”
Sienna, who is also an accomplished rower and art student, says the Learning Centre has been integral to her time at high school and opened up her pathways for the future.
“100 percent I don’t know what I would have done without the Learning Centre, it’s just been so amazing. With their support I feel more comfortable to go out and give something a go next year.”
Meachen says supporting students in their learning is not the only role of the Learning Centre; overcoming the stigma around needing support can be a big deal for some.
“Sometimes students don’t want to be seen in here or identified as having a learning difference, but our approach is to celebrate what they can achieve.
“We help students better understand their footprint and know what makes them who they are; we see students leaving here being completely okay with what makes them who they are—even if they weren’t comfortable about this in their earlier years.
“They don’t just grow as students, they grow as human beings—their stories are so full of resilience and celebrations of success. It is amazing to see what these young learners are achieving during their time here. It is about belonging, in the truest sense of the word. We know our learners.”
Sienna says the Learning Centre is embedded into the wider culture of the school and is a welcoming place for all students.
“It has definitely become way more open for anyone, some students might just come in to get help with an assignment or to study, which I think is really cool. I feel like it is part of the wider school, which is such a supportive and fun community and everyone is very accepting.”