Cherie Heeney: helping rangatahi plan for life
‘Inclusiveness’ is a word that comes easily to Flaxmere College deputy principal Cherie Heeney. “It’s about making sure tamariki are enthusiastic about their school and really engaged and excited about their learning.”
The college’s latest initiative is to ask students what they would add to the school curriculum if they could add a subject. It was a bit of a surprise that Classics was on the list – the study of ancient Greece, Rome and the Mediterranean world. Also on the wish list were languages, including Japanese and Spanish.
More of a surprise to Cherie, was that so far no one had asked about media studies given the huge interest in social media, but that could still be coming. “That’s a field of study that offers a very broad range of career opportunities across all kinds of industries.”
Curriculum development dovetails nicely into another of Cherie’s passions – careers advice.
She is a big fan of helping students get hands-on experience in different fields to help them decide where to head after college.
Busting myths around horticulture is one focus. “It is not just a summer job to earn a few dollars any more. Yes, there is fruit picking, but the industry is much more than that now. I want to help students see that there is a real career path in one or our region’s biggest industries, from team management and quality control to ground-breaking technology.”
For Cherie, it is all about the students and Pāharakeke. One of five siblings born and raised in Flaxmere, all of whom went on to tertiary study, she is passionate about helping the kids make the most of their college education to find their path – be that into work, training or further education.
“I was very lucky; we were encouraged from an early age to make the most of school and helped to see where it could take us. I want that for all of our rangatahi.”