Making a Leap of Faith

(CHB Mail April 10 2012)

Father of two Chris Johnson is passionate about teaching but the former corrections officer is the first to admit that it has taken him a while to fulfil his dream.

“At secondary school in Waverley my father was a teacher, so I naturally gravitated towards this as a career choice” remembers Chris “but then I met Sarah and decided that whatever my future was going to be, it would be in Hawke’s Bay with her.”

Chris had been working for the Department of Corrections for nearly 10 years when Sarah told him of her opportunity to join St John fulltime. They had two children and Chris realised that if he ever wanted to fulfil his dream then he would have to take a massive leap of faith. “I simply told Sarah that I was ready to do this and from that point on everything began to fall into place.

“I chose to do my Bachelor of Teaching in Early Childhood Education because this is such a crucial time in a person’s development and because E.I.T offered a field based programme! The greatest growth in the brains occurs before children are five years of age. It is when they learn to walk, feed themselves, talk and read. These are the very basic foundations that will carry them through the rest of their lives. It is a process that is both humbling and inspirational to be a part of.”

Studying full-time was a challenge as Chris and Sarah tried to juggle study, work and children. “It certainly helps if you have a supportive network of people around you” advises Chris “the support from our extended family was particularly vital also.”

“One of the challenges with taking on study at this stage in my life was making sure that the balance between work, study and family was kept intact.

“When you have passion it is easier to fight the fear that comes with any big decision,” explains Chris.” “but more importantly, holding on to a life long dream and realising my potential is what drives me and makes my leap of faith so meaningful and worthwhile.”

Creating Opportunities

Creating Opportunities – CHB Mail March 27 2012

Hanne Hardy knows first hand the challenges that come from being a rural Mum with limited options available for the future. With her two children close to leaving primary school and a farming enterprise to look after Hanne had to take stock of what life had to offer.

Despite being fully qualified in Industrial Organisational Psychology, Hanne found that, there is little scope in this field in the rural sector. She made the decision to increase her skill base and is now three papers away from completing her Bachelor of Business Studies with an Accounting major.

“I started the degree because I wanted to be able choose what I did with my life once the kids were at secondary school” says Hanne “although I have taken on several jobs and voluntary projects I also wanted to be building a future that I was in control of.”

“I love being on the farm and I was already doing some of the book-keeping, but I wanted to understand exactly what the figures meant to our business. Doing a business degree majoring in accounting to complement my existing skills was a natural choice.”

Hanne admits that studying extramurally full-time has come with its own challenges “I have been doing 3-4 papers per semester, so with two children at primary school and the farming business to run I have had to be very disciplined with my time management. The hardest part has been getting enough blocks of uninterrupted time to get all my study done while making sure that everyone else has what they need.”

Some people think that it is hard to study without having a support group of other students, but Hanne is quick to disagree “the support from the Massey extramural staff has been fantastic. There are forums and support services available for those who need that connection with their tutors and other students.

“The best part about achieving this qualification is that it has opened the doors for me to keep learning and keep following my passion for knowledge. It is allowing me to have a career on my terms, not anyone else’s.”

Adult Students Transforming Their Lives through Study – CHB Mail

How many of you have had a dream since childhood? Or started life following one path and then felt the need to change it?

How many of you want to change your future or enrich your life but don’t know how?

While it is really easy to accept life the way it is, over the next few weeks we are going to meet some incredible people who have not let life dictate their future. They have chosen to go back to school and create a different outcome for themselves and their families, in an effort that is nothing short of inspirational.

Turning a Dream into a Reality

Julie Jensen has a dream.  “I have always been fascinated by how the body works and how it heals” remembers Julie “nurses have such an important role in that process, it was a no-brainer that that would be my career of choice”.

But Julie didn’t get to fulfil her ambition straight away. “I was very sports orientated at school and even if I could have made it academically, I didn’t have the self-confidence to follow through. I just figured that I’d get to it one day”.

When she left college, Julie’s dream was put on the backburner as she got on with the realities of life, including getting married and having three children.

It was only after her youngest child had started school and Julie was able to take a break from being a full-time wife and mother that she realized that if she wanted to follow her dream now was the time to do it.

“I realised that I could actually do this. All my previous excuses didn’t apply any more. I was an adult so my grades didn’t matter, I had life experience, self confidence and financially we could cope. At age 41 I also appreciated that this was my last chance”

While studying full-time towards her Bachelor of Nursing and travelling to EIT in Taradale five days a week takes some organisation, it hasn’t been as challenging as people tend to think.

“It’s no different to a family where both parents work – you all make small alterations to your life to get the job done” explains Julie. “In the scheme of things taking three years now to gain a qualification that will enhance our lives in so many ways in the future makes perfect sense.”

“I love the mental stimulation I get from learning, but most of all I love caring for people. As a nurse you get to help people when they are at their most vulnerable, no matter what their age. I feel so privileged to be there with the knowledge to help them through it.”

Fascinated with Fashion – CHB Mail

By Rachael McNaught

Published in CHB Mail – January 24 2012

Wendy Bongard has always been fascinated with fashion and in particular hats.

“I used to spend hours making clothes for my dolls, a passion that I followed all through my school years culminating in my tertiary training at the now defunct Fashion School of Tayloring and Design” explains the award winning milliner.

Having recently moved to Central Hawkes Bay from Timaru where her hats and fascinators were in popular demand throughout the South Island, Wendy has found the locals up here just as fashion conscious as their mainland cousins. She is quickly building a reputation as the go-to lady for head and hair accessories for every occasion. Her creations can frequently be seen donned for race carnivals, fashion shows, weddings, lead pony classes and any other formal occasion.

“Men’s hats are also gaining in popularity and while I was down South it was interesting to see the increase in orders coming from the Hawkes Bay around Art Deco Weekend. Being in Hawkes Bay this year to see the event is something that I am really looking forward to.”

Rather than sticking with one particular style each one of Wendy’s hats and fascinators is individually tailored for the person wearing it and the outfit that it is being designed to match. “My designs are a collaboration between myself and the client, some want a classically tailored piece, some want something that has a definite edge to it. With the range of materials and colours that are available now we really are only limited by our imagination.

Wendy’s fascinators and hats are hand stitched according to traditional millinery practices. “It is by far the better way to go” she explains. “I have seen too many gowns and headpieces get ruined by glue.”

Each article takes time and how much time depends entirely on the style of the piece commissioned. “A simple fascinator can take a week, but a complex, intricate wide brimmed hat can take a month to complete.”

“My passion is for creating a stunning overall picture that also takes into account the wearer’s personality– that’s what makes the process so special and rewarding.”

Dancers End Dream Year by Holding Their Own on Stage – HB Today

Hawkes Bay Today – December 21st 2011

Dancers End Dream Year by Holding Their Own on Stage

By Rachael McNaught

Esther Juon Veitch from the Waipawa Dance Centre is very proud of her students and with good reason.

In September Juon Veitch’s students achieved grades well above the national and global averages in the British Ballet Organisation (BBO) exams, with 20 out of the 34 students presented for the exams achieving a grade of Honours.

While four of the awards went to young Grade 4 dancers, upcoming young star Anja Hardy also achieved Honours at the Intermediate Foundation level. But what makes these statistics even more astounding is that ten of the Honour students are from the adult ballet classes offered by Esther.

To achieve an Honours grade a student must have gained a mark of 88 percent or above for their exam. This is a result that is notoriously difficult to gain with this ballet syllabus, particularly in the higher grades and the Waipawa Dance Centre is the only school in New Zealand to present adult students for the BBO exams.

“I am so fortunate to have this group of dedicated ladies” says Juon Veitch of her adults, some of whom travel quite a distance to get to the Waipawa Dance Centre for class each week “the Grade 2 and 4 classes were very special this year and they just worked so hard. To get this result is absolutely fantastic”.

As a consequence of these exam results adult students Jackie Scannell, Kate Trusler, Sonia Harrison, Sasha Watt and Emma Evans helped to create history and open the door for a new generation of dancers when they joined other Waipawa Dance Centre members on stage for the open class with the Royal New Zealand Ballet on Sunday, much to the delight of tutor Vivencio Samblaceno Jnr, RNZB program co-ordinators and spectators.

Although incredibly nervous before heading on stage, all the dancers did a superb job, easily coping with the class, impressing their teacher and proving that age is certainly no obstacle when it comes to dance.

After a short break for Christmas Esther’s students are looking forward to starting 2012 with a special summer workshop featuring international contemporary dancer, choreographer and teacher Natalie Ayton.

Dancers End Year on High Note – CHB Mail

The CHB Mail – December 6th 2011

Dancers End Year on High Note

By Rachael McNaught

Students from the Waipawa Dance Centre with Open Class tutor Vivencio Samblaceno Jnr

Students at Esther Juon Veitch’s Waipawa Dance Centre had a wonderful end to their year when they were offered the opportunity to have lessons with key members of the Royal New Zealand Ballet.

The first lesson was taken by the charismatic former principal dancer and long serving member of the RNZB Vivencio Samblaceno Jnr and was open to students between ballet Grades 3 and Intermediate Foundation.

Around 30 students from Hawkes Bay attended this class and this was the first time that adult ballet students have ever participated in it.

Jackie Scannell, Kate Trusler, Sonia Harrison, Sasha Watt and Emma Evans helped to create history and open the door for a new generation of dancers when they joined their younger Waipawa Dance Centre cohorts, Olivia Hadley, James Bailey, Connor Harrison and Danielle Le Bon on stage, much to the delight of the tutor and the RNZB program co-ordinators.

Although incredibly nervous before heading on stage, all the dancers did a superb job, easily coping with the class, impressing their teacher and proving that age is certainly no obstacle when it comes to dance.

The tutor for the second session was legendary RNZB Ballet Master Greg Horsman.

11 students attended this advanced class with 13 year old Intermediate dancer Anja Hardy being the youngest and least experienced dancer on the stage by a number of years.

Despite this, Anja did a sterling job, quickly picking up the new movements and combinations taught over the intense 90 minute lesson. Although exhausted by the end, Anja felt that she had gained a lot from the experience and was honoured to have been dancing with the advanced dancers, some of whom were on the verge of starting full-time ballet training.

This last class was followed by an opportunity to watch the members of the Royal New Zealand Ballet being put through their paces before their matinee performance of ‘The Sleeping Beauty’.

After such a successful year Esther’s dancers are now gearing up for a special summer workshop with international contemporary dancer, choreographer and teacher Natalie Ayton. There are very limited places available for this workshop so anyone interested can contact Esther at the Waipawa Dance Centre.

Dancers Excel in Ballet Exams – CHB Mail

The CHB Mail – November 22nd 2011

Dancers Excel in Ballet Exams
By Rachael McNaught

Esther Juon Veitch from the Waipawa Dance Centre is very proud of her students and with good reason.

Forget the national average; at the recent British Ballet Organisation (BBO) exams Juon Veitch’s students achieved grades well above the global average.

Out of the 34 students presented for the exams 20 achieved the highest possible grade of Honours, 9 attained Highly Commended and 5 were awarded a grade of Commended.

To achieve an Honours grade a student must have gained a pass mark of 88 or above out of 100 for their exam. This is a result that is notoriously difficult to gain with this ballet syllabus.

Of the students who were awarded Honours, four were Grade 3 dancers, who earlier in the year had elected to sit the Grade 4 exams. For all four to achieve Honours at this level after completing two years work in just one year, is a tribute to their persistence and dedication.

Another special story is that of Anja Hardy, a 13 year old student who has been dancing with Esther since November 2010.

Before joining Esther, Anja’s training had been through a different ballet curriculum, which meant that she had to start at a Grade 1 level on the BBO syllabus. Amazingly she did the equivalent of 6 years work to pass the Intermediate/Foundation grade exam with Honours.

Sadly at the end of this year Anja leaves Ether’s guidance to attend Wanganui Collegiate, where she will continue with her ballet training.

The adult students were also extremely well represented with 10 students achieving Honours in their Grade 2 and 4 exams. This outcome has resulted in them being invited to train with instructors from the Royal New Zealand Ballet when the company visits Napier later this month.

When asked what the secret was for the success of the school Esther lays the credit firmly with her students. “They are incredible, they are just so dedicated and so enthusiastic. They love what they do and are a joy to teach. I am so fortunate to have such a great ballet school to work with”