Piece of pi for the new guy

Crawford prepares for next class

‘Patient’ is one word Nayland’s latest addition to the maths department, Ben Crawford,  would use to describe both himself and his approach to teaching.

A Canadian native, Mr Crawford, attended teachers’ college in Canterbury after studying for a degree in mathematics at the University of Waterloo in Canada.

One of the reasons Mr Crawford decided to pursue teaching was to repay past influential teachers. “A good friend of mine at the time was a retired teacher and he thought just that my patience and my demeanor would be really well suited for teaching.”

A love of maths began before this when he discovered he was naturally good at it at a younger age.

Mr Crawford believes the key contrast between both countries is the sheer size of Canada in comparison to New Zealand.

[Canada’s] “got everything New Zealand has, it’s just on a much bigger scale. You typically can’t drive from the mountains to either coast in a few hours.”

Aside from teaching, Mr Crawford takes leisure in anything that involves the beach and outdoor activities such as mountain biking and squash. He hopes to embark on more kite surfing after being captivated by the sport on a recent trip to Fiji.

One of 3 brothers, Mr Crawford’s siblings have also achieved well in their careers. His older brother works for a major bank while his younger brother works for Toyota.

In his own career, Mr Crawford finds that teaching challenges him positively.  He believes teaching students helps him to think young.

He believes in not giving up, even when situations become difficult. “How many times do you have to get on the board before you stay on the board?” he asked.

Social scientist with rhythm joins ranks at Nayland College

Miss Cunningham in the classroom

Before Amy Cunningham became a teacher she was a musician, bringing cheer to others through her music. She drove all around North America playing up to four shows a week and managed to organise all of it. Miss Cunningham was dedicated to the musical scene for 15 years. “It was really good…and exhausting,” she said.

The main force behind Miss Cunningham’s musical nature was the fact that she grew up in a musical family, watching her grandpa perform on stage from when she was two and seeing her dad always playing guitar around the house. Besides that she was always drawn to sing, “I just started when I was young and I don’t know why.” Apart from singing and playing the guitar Miss Cunningham also enjoys yoga, tramping and camping. “I play outside a lot” she said.

One of the most important things to Miss Cunningham is being a good person. “I think it’s important to feel empathy for others” she explained. When she went to volunteer in South Africa she felt that it had a huge impact on her experience of the world around her as she noticed how happy the people were even though they were struggling.

Miss Cunningham grew up in Canada. She says that it is similar to New Zealand in a lot of ways, often being colder in the winter, being filled with really nice people and having everything you need covered. It’s a “pretty easy place to be” she said.

Teaching social studies fits Miss Cunningham quite well. She said that she was always the type of person to stand back and watch as things happened in front of her. She often tries to understand an issue, analyse it and be critical of it. If she disagrees she will take action and fight against it. “I think it matches with who I am” she said.

In Miss cunningham’s eyes, spending her days teaching isn’t such a bad thing. “You’re never bored, ever, something interesting is always happening” she said, and she likes doing what she is passionate about everyday. However, she admits that it can be hard at times. “When you care about stuff you always want to do your best” she explained.

When Miss Cunningham looks back she says that “the things that made me grow as a person the most, they were always experiences.” She feels that if people don’t know exactly how to get involved in something that they’re passionate about, they should just go with their gut and get into it. “Starting is the hardest part” she said.

Brass band beginnings for new music teacher

Mr Weeks sets up to tutor

New music teacher at Nayland, Nigel Weeks became interested in music in his hometown in South Wales. “My friends were playing in the local brass band in Tredegar where I grew up and I just went along to see what it was like and then never looked back.”

Mr Weeks said the real importance of music is that people have the opportunity to take part in some kind of music making. “Unfortunately, students in some schools are not experiencing music at a young enough age,” he explains.

Tredegar is a small coal mining town in the UK. “The town has a clock in its square and it was a very cultural place to grow up,” he said. Gardening, searching through antique shops and playing squash are some of Nigel’s hobbies he enjoys in his spare time. Cycling is something he wants to get into to discover all the wonderful cycle tracks. “I might buy a bike though it will have to be one with an electric motor for the journey home!”

Mr Weeks embraces the challenge of working with people of all ages and watching them progress as they learn new things which is why he became a music teacher. He encourages students to study music. “Just give any opportunity a go. Music is fun and rewarding. You will just go from strength to strength.”

English teacher rocks and rolls

Mr Fa'avae helps student

Playing in a band is one of English teacher Brayden Fa’avae’s many talents. “I’m a songwriter, that’s my hobby,” he said.

Mr. Fa’avae has moved to Nelson recently from Christchurch, where he was in a band. He thinks they’ll stay together even though they live in three different parts of the world. “We’ll keep chipping away at things and when we’re all here maybe we might make some other music,” he said.

Moving to Nelson has had positive affects on Mr. Fa’avae’s life. “My brother is here, my dad is here, so it’s really good to reconnect with family,” he said on how the change has made life easier. “Nelson is a little smaller than Christchurch and simpler in some ways.” After  working in Christchurch for nine years he said it was time for a change, and moving back to his hometown felt right.

However, coming to Nayland College hasn’t been too much of a change. In his opinion the students are similar to the ones he knew, even though the timetable and structure of the school is different. He is enthusiastic about all Nayland has to offer. “There’s a good balance between academic culture and sports culture and things here. There’s lots of opportunities.”

Teaching English was something Mr. Fa’avae didn’t plan on until university, where he studied history, politics and classics. “[I] found the results from English were a lot better. It was at that point that I decided to follow the path of less resistance.” He doesn’t plan on moving into becoming a history teacher in the future.

Dramatic move for drama teacher

Mr Bentley has a passion for learning

For as long as he can remember, Anton Bentley has been interested in Drama. From play acting with friends as a child, to major roles in plays such as As You Like It and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf, it seemed only natural that he would eventually pursue a career in Drama. However, it was by chance that Mr Bentley was approached by someone about becoming a teacher. “I was directing a show in St Cuthberts in Auckland and someone I knew saw the show and said if you get a teaching degree you can get a job at McLeans and I fell into it that way”.

He started teaching at McLeans college in 2004 and has been teaching ever since. For Mr Bentley the most rewarding part about being a teacher is seeing a student make a breakthrough and do better than they thought they could. “It’s not about necessarily being an excellence student but achieving personal bests and making a break through, really going for it and coming up with something great”.

This desire to see students do their best is evident beyond the classroom setting with Mr Bentley taking on a key role as the Director of Annie Get Your Gun, Nayland’s 2016 school musical. However, growing up Mr Bentley was too inhibited to even audition for his own school show until he reached year twelve. It took for him to realise that it was okay to make a mistake and know that you’ve given it a go and that’s the best you can do. He talks about the importance of a “stuff it – I’m going to give it a go and do it anyway” attitude.

Drama isn’t the only thing that Mr Bentley likes to do and since coming to Nelson he has enjoyed swimming in the Maitai river, going to Zumo for coffee and the relaxed feel of the city. His desire to leave Auckland led him to Nayland and he is so far enjoying his time here.

Changing schools is never an easy task but Mr Bentley is starting to get used to the different culture of Nayland. He is looking forward to the challenges this year will bring and all the projects that are underway. Look out for Mr Bentley as he embraces all that Nayland has to offer.

Post-military passion for digital learning

Mr Patillo introducing the day's lesson to one of his mixed senior classes


From being attached to a U.S amphibious assault ship during conflict in Somalia to teaching our very own digital tech classes at Nayland, Edward Pattillo’s life leading up to his move from Texas to New Zealand is a fascinating one. His insights into the military politics of what happened in Somalia and it’s messy nature were intriguing, and when asked if this played some part in him leaving the military he chuckled that in fact the reasoning behind it was purely romantic.

He met a girl while serving in the navy and moved to Perth.“Western Australia more specifically and we so called fell in love and all that nonsense”.

Pattillo completed a Bachelor in Multimedia while he was living in Australia, graduated in 2004 and developed a fascination with digital education and E-learning. He also did cognitive psychology and education related topics in that field, subsequently discovering his passion for education. “I decided that I just like teaching! My mother, grandmother and auntie are all teachers they just do that y’know. I love it, there’s always something to learn, I’m always inspired” he said.

Mr Pattillo graduated from his teacher training in 2005 in Christchurch. He spoke about the nature of education and his thoughts on New Zealand being ahead of the rest of the world in terms of how our schools work. On this subject he spoke about his passion and how  “Teaching is one of the most satisfying things a person can do”.

Student driven subjects and how NCEA caters to individualized learning really fits into his idea of “not putting square pegs into round holes.”

Pattillo takes two year 13 classes, two year 12 classes and one year 10. His classes run in a student driven fashion which encourages learning in fields that students are individually interested in. Pattillo is extremely enthusiastic about technology and learning, two essential traits of a teacher in this field making his presence at Nayland entirely positive not only for the digital tech department but for the college as a whole.