Alora Hill was once a troubled teenager who didn’t do very well at school.
Today, the teacher aide at Waitaki Girls’ High School is helping young people, struggling as she once did, to shine.
“It all stems from how I was as a teenager. If I had a teacher aide working alongside me who understood my behaviours were due to many outside factors and supported me, then I probably could have done a lot better at school. I want to be able to give students the opportunities that I didn’t have. Schools are changing in the support we can offer, and I want to be a part of that positive change,” says Alora.
Although she left school at 15 without an NCEA qualification, with support and encouragement from Waitaki Girls’ High School and Careerforce, Alora has successfully completed two Level 4 Health and Wellbeing qualifications and has gone on to excel as a Youth Work Apprenticeship graduate. She has completed the Community Facilitation and Youth work certificates at level 4.
Alora is passionate about helping kids excel at school
Alora realised that her passion in life was to help students with their mental, emotional and spiritual health and wellbeing. “I believe, if we can support students in these areas then they have the best chance to engage and excel in their education. I figured out that I wanted to work with the youth sector through teacher aiding,” says Alora.
“As a teacher aide, I work as an advocate for the students, listening to them, making sure they feel heard and are getting the support they need. We work very closely with our students, and because of this, we can often be the first people to pick up on their needs.
“It’s not unusual for our teens to come in distressed or anxious. We figure out what they need, calm them down or help teach them some self-soothing techniques, helping them to focus on their work and self-manage in the future. If we notice any learning difficulties, we can pass that information on so the student can receive the best support to achieve academically.
“We often take students out of class to help them catch up on stuff they’ve missed, sit with them in class to assist them with their work or vary their work depending on what their needs are. There are many different layers to being a teacher aide and supporting our youth; the studies I have done helped further develop my skills in this area.”
Doing the Apprenticeship gave Alora huge confidence
The apprenticeship was something that Alora was keen to do for herself. “I thought it would be good to see if I could actually do it because I never believed that I could but I wanted to progress further in life, so this was a good opportunity to test myself.
“Before starting the first qualification was really nervous, with no confidence at all”, says Alora.
“Lots of people pumped me up and said ‘you are totally capable’ and as I went through the modules, I started to gain confidence in myself and my abilities.”
Alora describes Careerforce Apprenticeship Advisor, Sarah Orr as her personal ‘hype woman’ “Sarah was just wonderful, through the experience, she was really helpful. She pumped me up a lot and gave me great feedback. She made me feel really good about myself and the work that I was doing.”
Sarah describes Alora as ‘the presence that this sector needs.’ “Alora has such strong instincts, and I’ve been blown away by her time and time again throughout the course of her programme.
“The first time I met Alora, I knew she was going to be astounding. She works alongside students in ways that enhance their mana. She supports them to recognise and be guided by their own innate strengths, and to have positive and healthy connections and relationships.”
Alora says, “I am thankful to Waitaki Girls for partnering with Careerforce to give me this great opportunity, My work, my manager, my colleagues and my whanau have been massively supportive. I never realised how highly some people thought of me and the work I am doing.”
Study inspires Alora to reconnect with her Māori side
With a young family, the on-the-job method of learning worked well for Alora. “The best part about doing online study through Careerforce was that I could do it at my own pace. Working while studying fitted in beautifully with my whole life and all my responsibilities. Sometimes I smashed out the work faster than was needed and then I would give myself a break for a bit as life got busy.”
As a Māori woman, Alora felt disconnected from her culture and the study has inspired her to build connections with her Māori side. “When I started looking at the Te Whare Tapa Whā (Māori health) model, I realised something was missing in my life. If I hadn’t come across that model in this learning, I wouldn’t have started to reconnect with that side of my culture. It’s had a really big impact on me.”
Looking forward, Alora is excited to connect with her culture. She is keen to visit her whanau to learn more about her culture and focus on learning some Te Ao Māori. Next year she may embark on further study.