Thursday, 4 December 2014

She's got a way. . .

This blog post is dedicated to Melaine Sagala-Timoteo

She's got a way about her
I don't know what it is
But I know that I can't live without her
She's got a way of pleasin'
I don't know what it is 
But there doesn't have to be a reason anyway

I only just heard the news that you passed away suddenly yesterday.  I'm still in shock.
We studied at university together, knew each other from afar, but didn't realise that not only getting our own education, but providing education for others would turn out to be our common link.

She's got a smile that heals me
I don't know why it is
But I have to laugh when she reveals me
She's got a way of talkin'
I don't know why it is
But it lifts me up when we are walkin' anywhere

The last time we spoke was at the PPTA Pasifika Fono in July where I delivered a keynote.
We had a really good chat about life, education and dreams for Pasifika learners in Aotearoa.
You wanted to know how I was doing since Loma died.  You talked about how happy you were that I was strong and doing what I do best.  In the same breath you teased me about being 'too soft' and not being critical of the education department.  You could always make me laugh.  You knew full well that I couldn't comment on anything to do with the government of the day because being an agent for the state can often conflict with being an agent of change.

Later on in the course of the conference, there was an opportunity for you to address ministry officials directly.  You didn't pull any punches.  One of the things that I admired greatly about you - you didn't mince words.  You told it like it was.  You never said anything in a malicious way, but you could hold your own when it came to mocking.

She's got a way of showin'
How I make her feel 
And I find the strength to keep on goin'
She's got a light around her
And ev'rywhere she goes
A million dreams of love surround her ev'rywhere

When it came to Polyfest, particularly at the Samoan Stage, you were the face of Avondale College.
I remember vividly seeing you in battle mode with your Samoan group, extremely professional.  The high expectations you had for your students and zero tolerance for nothing less than perfection when it came to performance standards, was something that transpired from your incredible work ethic.

I know that your students - past and present - will be absolutely devastated that you have left this earth.  You inspired your students to be the best that they could be, to never make excuses for failure but to get right back up and push on.  In conversations with kids from my church who had the privilege to be taught by you - when I told them that I knew you they would say, "Aw she's a mean teacher Manu, but she's awesome. She's tough - but it's because we need it.  She believes in us, when not many teachers care at all."

It breaks my heart to know that you have gone, but hopefully your students will never forget not only the content of your classroom teaching, but the way that you made them feel.

She comes to me when I'm feelin' down
Inspires me without a sound
And she touches me and I get turned around

You won an award from Avondale College.  I can't remember exactly what it was called, but it recognised your exceptional contribution to teaching excellence within the school and part of the award was the opportunity to travel. You went to Europe and saw the places and people that you had studied in high school.  Something that I hope I will be able to do sometime in the future.

Thank you for being a model example of the kind of teacher every student needs.  I pray that your family and friends, particularly your husband Lavi (only just married in September), will find peace and comfort knowing that you are with your Maker.  I wanted to include this video of you talking about teachers needing to have strong connections with their students.  I am confident that what you discuss in this clip will benefit so many teachers of our Pasifika learners.

Strong student connections

Manuia lou malaga Laine.
Ou te talitonu ua maua sou nofoaga ile lagi ma lou Alii.
Give Loma a big hug for me :-)
Love you sis xx