Lead Your Future breaks through barriers
CPIT’s Sela Faletolu has broken through barriers to stimulating Maori and Pasifika high school students’ interest and engagement in their education.
Faletolu began a two week Lead Your Future holiday programme at CPIT on Monday 15 July. In addition 13 Canterbury schools are participating in Faletolu’s Lead Your Future programme, which has developed from her highly effective 2012 No Limits programme.
Her approach is having an effect and students who have been difficult to engage are sharing their stories and challenges with Faletolu and her team.
“What works for these students? Being heard,” Faletolu says. “Feeling they have a right to be part of their education. Too often they feel like a product of circumstance and teachers may not have time to find out what is happening with each student,” she says.
Faletolu’s enthusiasm is definitely infectious. “That’s why I work in this job, to impact the lives of young people. I have the opportunity to really change someone’s future – not just their career path but how they treat their wife or get on with their boss or how they view their lives – it’s about building character.
“A lot of youth come in with their walls up. I have to build trust in that first session, in that first hour. When they know what our focus is – that this is my passion, the reason I get up in the morning – when they know I care, they start to open up.
“Subsequent sessions focus on giving them hope and empowering them to be a leader not a follower of their parents’ occupation or what their town expects of them or what others are doing. But at the same time, leading your future happens with teachers, parents and the government working with them. It’s about building bridges.”
Whereas No Limits encouraged students to explore the barriers to their success in education, culminating in a performance that surprised and enlightened principals and parents alike, Lead Your Future is focused on solutions to disengagement. “I encourage them not to fight against what they don’t like, but to fight for what they do want,” Faletolu says.
The students’ ideas are fed back to the teachers. Students are also encouraged to engage with their school to discuss solutions.
In on-going Saturday sessions students are working towards a performance at The Court Theatre in November, which will be attended by local and national government officials.
In September Faletolu will invite parents of her Lead Your Future students to bring their questions to a panel of tertiary and government agency providers.