Guest Post: The stories behind the numbers

Guest post: Nick Hyde CEO of Vanguard Military School

Releasing Vanguard Military School?s academic results to the public is a very rewarding part of my job.? For the third year in a row, Vanguard has produced outstanding NCEA results for its recruits and it is proving the value of having a partnership school as an option for parents and children in our education system.

However, numbers are not people, numbers are not names of family or loved ones so let me make this a little more personal.? This is the story behind many of those numbers.? The following are a few contributions from parents and recruits about the difference this school has made for them.

PHOTO provided – Whaleoil

After both her sons struggled to achieve NCEA, Shannyn Labuschagne enrolled them at Vanguard.? This has been their experience.

?Both of our sons attended Vanguard Military School after failing to achieve NCEA at mainstream public schools.? Neither of them had any real motivation about their futures, other than ?getting a job?.? Needless to say, they both finished Vanguard Military School having achieved NCEA Levels 1, 2 and 3.

Our eldest son has now been in the NZ Army for 2.5 years, and our younger son begins his BASIC Training for the NZ Army in February.

Vanguard is an amazing school that creates a structured environment for the children to learn in.? The camaraderie among students and teachers alike is fantastic.? The children feel like they are part of something and have a second family outside of their homes.

They encourage their students to be the best that they can be and to never give up.? They not only teach according to the NZQA standards, but the students also learn vital life skills?..important skills that are not taught enough to students these days.

I believe that all schools should follow the example that Vanguard has set with their students.? They are producing qualities in students that we need to see in adults in the future.

We are huge advocates for Vanguard Military School, and because of Vanguard, their dedicated and committed staff and their belief in their students, our boys have a great future ahead of them.?

Partnership Schools have been created to use innovation and to try different methods in an attempt to assist any child who, if they continued in their current school environment, would struggle to reach their potential or fail. Vanguard has built its model around a military ethos and has a focus on producing productive citizens for New Zealand.? It has been pleasing to see our recruits forge a pathway through to the New Zealand Defence Force but that is not our sole focus.

PHOTO provided – Whaleoil

Donelle Matthews has a different story.? ?When my daughter Shanaya started Vanguard Military School in 2015, she had failed Level 1 and Level 2 at her previous school and was heading down the slippery slope. We viewed Vanguard as our last resort and as her mum, I hoped and prayed that they, the teachers and staff, could do what I and her previous school hadn’t been able to do which was to help Shanaya achieve her full potential.

Her start to Vanguard was by repeating year 12 (level 2). ?We had been told what was in store for her at orientation but until she was in the environment on a daily basis we didn’t know if she would adapt or cope with the massive changes.? At the beginning, she was tired and sore from the intense P.E, but by the time the first two weeks had passed we all knew Shanaya had found exactly what she had been looking for and she loved everything. She began to thrive!

Nothing could ever have prepared me or our family for the intense journey that Shanaya and we in a way had embarked on but over the two years we never once questioned why or whether we made the right decision in choosing Vanguard.? We only had to look at Shanaya, be around her to know that Vanguard was changing her, changing her life for the positive and every part of it was right.? The style and format, the way the school structured the learning, the physical training, the comradery, respect and self-belief they instilled in the students. The fact that for the first time ever Shanaya was telling me that she wasn’t going to be just average, she wasn’t going to settle for mediocre, she wanted and most importantly believed she deserved MORE! She was going to be ‘Great!’, she was going to achieve and BE ‘Above Average!’ ?She wanted more from her life and she was going to go out and GET it for herself!

Watching the amazing transformation in Shanaya fills me with so much pride, admiration and joy. I know that she is going to go from strength to strength as she moves forward into her next journey. Shanaya started Vanguard with no qualifications.? She had 43 Level 1 credits and 39 level 2 credits and no intention of doing any better in year 13 but after two years at Vanguard she achieved both her NCEA Level 1 and Level 2 in the first year and then went on to not only achieve 80 Level 3 credits but also achieve University Entrance.

It’s thanks to the guidance and support of ALL the fantastic staff and teachers at Vanguard she is now enrolled to study Criminology at AUT this year, with the goal of joining the NZ Police. A positive future is ahead for Shanaya and its all thanks to the life lessons and skills she was taught at Vanguard. ?A perfect example of what a ?Charter School? should be!

I am very well aware of the negative image that ‘Charter Schools’ have had in the media.? You are also always going to get people that will have a negative view towards it.? That is their right, not everybody is going to agree on everything all the time. But that is exactly WHY there should be an alternative to ‘the norm’ because most importantly we know our kids, how they’ve been raised, how they learn and what they need. So as their parents we can choose either public or private education, but we don’t have the ability to choose what style of education is best suited for our child.

As a family, we have had to defend our decision to join Vanguard to people whose negative opinion of charter schools has purely come from listening to the constant negative media coverage. Once they see our enthusiasm, hear our version, listen to our personal experience at Vanguard, their opinions change and they realise there are two sides to this debate. What really annoys me personally is that charter schools like Vanguard have to constantly fight to get the positive recognition they deserve. You only have to google school NCEA results to see how successful Vanguard has become since it opened.

As my husband and I have another two daughters currently going through primary school, we have every intention for the next step in their education of exploring all our options be it either public, private or charter school to find which one is best suited to each of our children. We hope and pray that we have all these options to choose from in the future.? One thing I can guarantee you is that I will be singing Vanguard Military School’s praises for years and years to come and will constantly encourage other parents to explore all options including Charter Schools!

PHOTO provided – Whaleoil

Gregory Knight also found that it wasn?t just academic success that was important to him as a parent.? He wanted his son to develop a character and a set of values that were important to them. This is what he had to say about his son Josh.? ?Vanguard Military School was chosen by my son when he was 15 years old. He voluntarily transferred from a state school because of the social pressures and the flexible and inconsistent boundaries present at his previous school.? What he found in Vanguard was a strong, fair and constant school system that focused on his strengths, addressed his weaknesses and didn’t buckle to the negative social desires of any student.

The result being we have a son at 17 that is a confident young man with manners that has an old school work ethic, that can hold a conversation with adults when looking them in the eye and has begun his work life with an apprenticeship in the building industry.

Much of these characteristics were?instilled by the Vanguard school system and staff.?

Jamie Coffman was one of the original recruits who started back in 2014.? She has kindly penned the following regarding her time at Vanguard.? What she has left out is her contribution to her success at Vanguard and the impact she had on others.? She has left Vanguard with University Entrance and a Level 3 endorsed with Excellence but that only tells part of the story.? By embracing everything Vanguard stood for she learned what she was capable of if she pushed herself out of her comfort zone.? In PT she worked hard in every session and now holds the school sit up record.?Academically she wished to change subjects and to do so enrolled herself in a science external, a subject she hadn?t taken that year.? With help from staff and by studying hard she passed it with a merit.? She leaves behind the perfect footprint of a role model our current recruits aspire too.

PHOTO provided – Whaleoil

?From day dot I knew that life at Vanguard Military School would be challenging. But looking back at my three years there now,

challenging isn’t a word I’d use to describe it. Two among many of the words I’d use to describe Vanguard are, home and family. Vanguard is a place where we feel safe.

Through my time there it quickly became apparent that we need to be allergic to average and that no matter the task, we need to always pursue excellence, do our best and never give up.

I will be the first to admit that without Vanguard and the dedication of the motivational and wise Staff, I would not be where I am today. Before Vanguard I was mediocre. I had loose goals and a rough idea on how to achieve them. Nothing was set in stone. My future pended on how well I would ‘wing it’. But not anymore. Through Vanguard I realised something I’d never known before. That I can do it. Now everywhere I go, work, NZIS, St John, the RNZAF, I go with a mindset that I can achieve whatever I set my mind to.

So when people ask me about my time at Vanguard Military School, I am obliged to say that it is an excellent school that excels their recruits to reach their full potential – whilst instilling life-long lessons about being allergic to average, not settling for mediocre, always pursuing excellence, never giving up, and always look out for your team. You never know where that will get you one day.

Thank you to the Staff and to the challenges at Vanguard Military School. You’ve changed my life.?