“Just quit”, “Change your career”, “Move to Australia!”, “Get a job”, “Let it go!” were just some of the comments that were thrown at me after failing in University, not for 1, not for 2, not for 3…you are thinking surely not for 4 but for 5 years. I joined University in 2000 and it wasn’t until 2005 that I had a successful semester where I passed everything. There are many reasons for my failure – living alone, didn’t know how to manage money, playing computer games at odd times, no family support, and failing to focus on my targets. There are so many more reasons but the real reason for my failure was me. I kept looking for something or someone to blame and things only changed when I took ownership of my actions.
I clawed my way through University and finally completed my studies only to join the queue in hunting for a job. It was November 2006 and I had no luck. I was one week away from going on a solo adventure to South America. A trip that I decided to go on following my journey at University. I sent away more than 50 applications and CV’s around Auckland and no one offered me an interview. Back in those days, things were still done over snail mail and phone. Going away for 6 weeks without a job lined up was nerve-wracking. On cue, the call came from one single HoD in South Auckland and within the next 18 hours, I had signed to join the Maths Department at Manurewa High School. Ironically it was the first school that gave my mum who is also a Math teacher a chance in 1995. Greg Thornton and Fay Weatherly, I can’t thank you enough for the opportunity. Through my time at Rewa, I am thankful for the advice I received from Ben Mason, Tony Carey & especially Claire Walls who did an incredible job in mentoring me for a short period.
As mentioned in my first blog entry – “I think back to that sunny morning in November 2006, when a young arrogant boy had a dream of being the best Math teacher and be presenting in international conferences about teaching and engaging students in Mathematics. 9 years later, I know now there is no such thing as the best Math teacher as I will always be a student and as for that other dream of presenting ideas, this is just the beginning…” Well, I was excited as I was about to reach one of these goals. That was to present at an international conference – ISTE2019 in Philadelphia. Unfortunately, I had to decline the invitation to ISTE after I received this news.
On the 22nd of February 2019, I was awarded two prestigious awards. I made the cut for the top 6 educators in the country and was awarded the National Excellence in Teaching Awards. I shared the stage with Yolande Franke, Principal of Howick Intermediate School in Auckland who won the NEiTA Founders’ Leadership Award; Ricky Chan from Freyberg High School, Palmerston North; Delwyn Kruyff from Albany Primary School in Auckland; Bruce Rodger from Avonhead School in Christchurch and Paulene Walsh from John Paul College in Rotorua. Further to this, I was awarded the ASG Space Camp Teacher Ambassador of the Year Award. This meant I was off to Space Camp late July which also meant I couldn’t go to Philadelphia in June for the ISTE conference.
There was a small ceremony at Parliament House. My school principal Diana Patience attended the ceremony along with my wife and 2-year-old son Ashoka. The education minister Chris Hipkins presented me with the award. Things didn’t really hit me until when one of the speakers said this “Subash could be paving the way for the first astronaut from New Zealand!” Earlier in the day, I had talked to stuff.co.nz where they wrote a small piece about my adventures. The article can be found here. Then the messages started to pour in. It was overwhelming.
After the number of messages I have received from my ex-students, I have decided to dedicate an entire blog post on some of their messages. Things didn’t stop there as when I returned home, I was to be interviewed on Monday morning with Duncan Garner in TheAMShow. It was a blur and I hope I said the right things. The interview can be found in the link below.
I returned to school on Monday morning after the interview, hoping to slip in quietly. However, there was another surprise. There was a special assembly held for my achievements and it was a humbling experience. I was presented with a gift from the school and it was a huge honour to be presented in front of the students.
Another article popped up on School News. https://www.schoolnews.co.nz/2019/02/inspirational-teachers-recognised-around-country/
My favourite moment of this whole experience was when I received a photo from my wife showing my son watching me on TV.
All of this is possible because of the support of the people that are around me. My maths team is amazing, both past and present (Mimi Moss, Ash Rambhai, Sue Rhodes, David Smithers, Wiaam Al-Salihi, Kathryn Albertson, Elizabeth Sneddon, Vimal Singh, Murray Hamilton & Prabhjit Johal). I cannot do half the things I have done without the support of you guys. Thank you so much. I have mentioned this before but can never be enough. The amount of respect and gratitude I have for Mimi Moss cannot be described. Also a big thank you to Mrs Diana Patience for allowing me to fall and learn from my experiences. Thank you to my sis who continues to challenge me and my mum who at 62 years old has started her own YouTube channel for Maths for her students. She is an inspiration. There are so many people to thank and the list is long and I am sorry if I have missed you.
Last but not least, I want to say thank you to my wife Luckshmy. She has seen me grow from an arrogant young teacher to who I am today. That is because of the support and love she has shown me that has pushed me through my challenges and given me the strength to pursue my goals. Folks, so all the congratulations and adulation is for her as she is the person that deserves it.
Next stop is Paris for the Microsoft E2 conference and then it is time to go to Space Camp. Buzz Lightyear was the nickname given to me by a teacher and to that, I replied “To infinity and beyond + 1“