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A huge future ahead

Duncan of E&E

‘Duncan is an 18-year-old with a huge future ahead of him’, says his Education and Employment tutor.

This time last year, Canterbury teen Duncan was a high school dropout whose ambition in life was to get a job at Video Ezy. Today, he has a job as a machine maintenance man at an international company that plans on sending him to Italy to study for two years.   

Ashburton-based Salvation Army Education and Employment (E&E) tutor Heather Daly said Duncan is her biggest success story from three years as a tutor.

Duncan joined E&E in June last year, doing the Careers and Computing course with a view to completing his NCEA Level 2. ‘When his parents brought him in none of them were confident he’d turn up every day or get his Level 2,’ Heather said. ‘They said, “He will probably be alright for the first few weeks then start making excuses not to come.” ’

At the start, Heather says the fears proved well founded. Duncan struggled with having to come in to town with his mother at 7:30 am and having to wait long after course finished for a ride home. ‘He was coming on average three days a week and making silly excuses why he couldn’t come. When he was here he would work so hard and then say he was tired. He didn’t want to talk to anybody and felt he had the weight of the world on his shoulders.’

Duncan’s background didn’t help. He faced learning difficulties, making it hard to write, and was picked on at school and often absent. However, Heather says she was not willing to give up on Duncan or let him skip classes. ‘I don’t lower my goalposts for different students. I expect them to reach them with different help.’

To help Duncan overcome his learning difficulties, Heather began highlighting sections of his work book in different colours, doing practical, hands-on learning, and encouraging him to see the value in getting his NCEA Level 2. Duncan soon began working harder and Heather even began to get him to teach parts of the course he was good at, to help him with his self-confidence.

He became talkative and friendly, as well as doing well on the course. Then, last month, Heather read in the Ashburton Guardian about a sock factory in Ashburton making socks that sell around the world. After reading that the factory was looking for staff, Heather organised for the students to go on a visit. She bought Duncan a shirt for the visit and at the factory Duncan impressed the manager so much that the manager asked him to go home and fill out and application form for a job repairing and maintaining the factory’s delicate machines. Two weeks later, Duncan had an interview and was offered a job. He went on to complete his NCEA Level 2 six weeks earlier than expected.  

Duncan’s new job involves two years’ working in the factory and in the third year, he will go to Italy for two years to learn about the machines and the parts. ‘Duncan is an 18-year-old with a huge future ahead of him,’ Heather says. ‘To see where he’s come from and where he’s going is so, so exciting!’

by Robin Raymond (c) 'War Cry' magazine, 16 May 2015, pp9.
You can read 'War Cry' at your nearest Salvation Army church or centre, or subscribe through Salvationist Resources.