Ormiston teacher named award recipient

Erika Jenkins posing with her NEiTA award. Photo Wayne Martin.

Ormiston Senior College’s assistant principal received an award for her outstanding contribution to teaching and education leadership.

Erika Jenkins was announced one of four recipients of the National Excellence in Teaching Award (NEiTA) in an online ceremony yesterday.

NEiTA chairman and convenor of judges Allen Blewitt said each of this year’s winners demonstrated that while education changes lives, it is teachers who can transform students’ futures.

“In this year of a pandemic, this year’s winners have each shown great passion for education and an ability to enthuse others,” Blewitt says.

“It’s not just the students who benefit, their colleagues and the entire school community do too. This is also seen in how each has meaningfully promoted Māori achieving as Māori in a way that has gone beyond the classroom.”

Jenkins has been teaching for about 23 years. She is known for her ability to teach students and teachers how to better understand and appreciate Maori language and culture.

She works with Maori and Pasifika students, helps with netball and looks after the school teacher’s aide team – all in addition to her primary role as a senior English teacher at Ormiston Senior High School, as well as assistant principal.

“I am incredibly passionate about teaching and learning, the enjoyment and reward come from being able to positively impact the lives of so many young people, the community and the profession I serve,” Jenkins says.

She is involved in the school’s Maori and Pacifica Leadership Team where the focus of the work is to ensure that Maori and Pacifica students achieve as “Maori or Pacifica students grounded firmly in their language, culture and identity,” Jenkins says.

“The other work that gives me great joy is working with the beginning teachers.”

Outside of the work in the school, Jenkins mentors Masters participants on the Ako Mātātupu/The MindLab programme which grows young leaders in education by “disrupting the inequities that exist in education and in society”.

When she found out she was a recipient of the 2021 award, she could barely contain her excitement.

“What an incredible honour,” Jenkins says. “I want to thank the NEiTA Foundation and the Futurity Investments Group for their recognition of teachers and the work we do to grow and support our communities.”

She received a $5000 professional development grant and crystal apple trophy.
Micah-Leigh Nikora, Jenkins’ fellow teacher nominator, said that Erika was a massive role model.

“She is one of the most hard working and caring people that I know,” Nikora says