As an unprecedented school year comes to a close, Mrs. Marnewick reflects on the changing face of teaching and Batten among other questions.

Why did you decide to choose teaching as your career?

I think growing up I always wanted to be a teacher. I was lucky enough to come to Macleans College—I really enjoyed working with kids and the idea of helping others. Originally I thought I wanted to be a primary teacher, and then I realised as I grew more and more passion for Physical Education—in particular, Health—I found that I really wanted to teach that, and that’s where I started. I also used to be a nanny through university so I really enjoyed working with students and children.

Would you want to be a teacher now if you were a student at Macleans now, or has it changed in some sort of way?

It’s difficult to say—my role as a teacher has definitely changed. I started off wanting to just be a P.E. and Health teacher, and teaching about the different sides of physical education. I was really passionate about learning about the body and what we can do. All about well-being and how it impacts students. Then I slowly started to realise that there’s more to it, to teaching. It’s not just a curriculum and area; it’s how all of those curriculum areas fit together to create that well-rounded student and then I realised that it’s not just curriculum. There are also the relationships that you build with students. There is a lot more to teaching than what you may think and if you’re not suited to that then you might not enjoy teaching. But if you can see the value of what teaching brings to the education system, I don’t think your passion will ever change. I love teaching, I’m really fortunate to be able to go home every day and say that I love my job.

Is there anything about the house which you believe has fundamentally changed over the course of your time at Macleans? If so, what is it, and why?

Batten House. I like to think that now after four years I’m really starting to see the benefits of what it is like to put my own spin and feel on a house. I feel like when you’ve got a house leader in the role for a very long time, the students feel really ingrained into that house leader. I love the competitiveness of the students, I love that everyone looks after each other, I like that we can have a bit of fun and that we value the really important things here at Macleans. 

I’m firm but fair—everyone knows that about Mrs Marnewick—but I can also have a little bit of fun and I think that the whānau atmosphere is really important in Batten House. Batten House is still the caring house—it’s always been known as the caring house, and I hope that it stays that way.

This year has been the most competitive year and we’ve ever done in Batten though. We were doing very well being in the top 4 for the term shields so Batten has been really competitive this term and this year, but I think we’ve got our own spin on things. I think we like to do well in everything overall, we’re very well rounded and we value each aspect. I put just as much attention on the house choir as I do on lunchtime speedball. I put just as much attention on service because I believe giving is really, really important to others who are in need.

As a P.E teacher, what are your thoughts on the current health curriculum at Macleans, in relation to mental and physical health? 

We’ve had a lot of discussion over the last few years with our junior health programme. When we talk about resilience, we talk about mental health and coping strategies, and we talk about relationships. Hauora is one of the key things that encompasses our whole physical education health programme here. So your well-being—whether or not you’re taking core P.E. or option P.E.—should be part of the talking process the whole way through.

What are some life lessons you think becoming a house leader or teacher, in general, has taught you?

I think being a house leader has definitely opened my eyes to many different areas. I’m a mum now too, so I can see how it is important to see all different sides of a student. I mean that I talk about what’s happening at home, what’s happening at school, what’s happening in the classroom, and hopefully finding a way to help them to be the best possible person they can be. Some of the fun things I think being a house leader is seeing students thrive through Year 9 all the way to Year 13, and seeing what they’ve achieved is truly amazing as I sit here writing testimonials. It’s amazing to see what they’re all capable of, especially when they don’t necessarily always back themselves at the start to see what they’re fully capable of. Another life lesson would be: don’t judge a book by its cover because there’s far more to someone than what meets the eye.

Who do you look up to the most and why?

I think that question can be quite difficult. From a personal perspective, I am incredibly close with my grandmother, and I look up to her quite a lot. She went to Victoria University and I think she was one of the first female pharmacists in New Zealand. I really gained an interest in academic learning from her. She’s ninety today, in a rest home, and I still get to see her every week. I value her a lot and I value what she says about life; it is amazing what you can learn from different people from different generations. I look up to what she’s done in her life, how she’s treated people, and her learning experiences. I’ve been going through some of the things that she did very, very early on—her learning experiences in classrooms and in teaching, because her dad was a principal. So on a personal level, I definitely look up to her. On a work and career level, we’re really lucky that we’ve got very, very good leadership and fantastic teachers here at Macleans. Bouncing off ideas from different teachers—it’s really amazing to learn different things from them.

If there was anything you could say to all the students at Macleans what would you say?

I would say your five years here go very, very quickly and I don’t think you always realise how lucky you have it here at Macleans. I was a past student, and walking back here the first day of teaching and looking across that grass, I thought, “Wow, I never truly stopped to realize how amazing that view is.” 

And you don’t notice that until you leave school and come back. Every day sitting out here having lunch on the field, you realise that this is just something we take for granted. The learning experiences that you have here at school, the extracurricular experiences, the whānau atmosphere, don’t take it for granted. Use every opportunity you have, because not everybody in New Zealand has that.

Academics and education come down to one of the main things we do here at Macleans, but it’s not just that; I want students to look deeper. I want students to think about what other opportunities are here that they have, but haven’t taken on board. The experiences that you can gain, learning of other people who have different cultures and beliefs, and really understanding how to be an adult safely here at school. That’s what one of my students told me recently, and I think that’s really, really cool. Valuing the school within a school—your little whānau within the school system. It’s pretty amazing.

Interview conducted by Nicole Lai and Elaine Cao. Transcript published on 29/11/2020, with minor edits for clarity and concision. Header image supplied courtesy of The Collegian.

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