Our son, Adam, started Kapiti College five years ago, and it was then that I first met Sarah.
I remember this meeting clearly, as it was the first time I had met with someone from within the education system that seemed to not only understand where I was coming from and what Adam needed but genuinely seemed able to help. I remember feeling supported, relieved and for the first time in many years, hopeful that Adam was indeed in the right place at the right time.
This proved to be correct - due in large part to Sarah's support and influence, Adam has had and continues to have, a successful and enjoyable time at Kapiti College.
I cannot speak highly enough of what Sarah and her team have done for Adam and other children like him. The programme she has been instrumental in setting up and running is a positive, strengths based approach to learning that works. Adam has achieved NCEA level two so far (he is Year 13 this year) and I have no doubt this is in large part due to the supportive and flexible environment that he has been part of.
Most of all, and in some ways most importantly, Adam and his peers have learnt that they aren't disabled, dumb or disadvantaged - they're intelligent individuals that know how they learn and have the tools to do just that.
Adam has grown in confidence each year, and is on track to pursue and achieve his career goals. "Sarah is a very determined and hard working woman who has a gentle and kind hearted nature. She always made me feel comfortable and confident to learn as I knew I was in a safe and non judgemental environment."
/TANIA DALLY/ parent
Sarah and I started working together when I was 9 years old. I was struggling intensely in all of my subjects due to dyslexia. I was lacking confidence within myself that I would ever find success in my studies and thought very low of my future.
Sarah and I worked together twice a week. The first thing she taught me was the enjoyment of learning and the feeling of getting a tick next to my answers, as opposed to the constant expectation of failure.
When I was in the classroom, I would struggle to understand what the teachers were explaining to me. This was frustrating as everything felt foreign and too difficult. Sarah would teach me in a way that I could understand. She helped me to discover new strategies of learning that worked with my brain. Because of this, my ability to read and write increased immensely. I started writing stories from my imagination, and soon I was giving speeches to the teaching faculty about my experience of having dyslexia. I also talked about the techniques Sarah taught me which led to my educational development.
My outlook for my future started to change into a more positive mind set. I began to aim higher and I no longer doubted myself. The old expectations were replaced with excitement and ambition, I wanted to succeed. I wanted to learn.
I am now 19 with all my NCEA qualifications and am studying for my diploma in interior design. My dream job will now be more than just a dream thanks to Sarahs life changing lessons.
/LUKA HELENA BENEFIELD/ student
My daughter spent years at primary school struggling, believing that she was stupid and would never do well at school. Within weeks of working with Ms Sharpe, her confidence had increased and she was excited about going to school.
Ms Sharpe has given her the tools to help her in class and understand the way she learns. She now loves school, loves to learn, and believes she can do anything she puts her mind to. Ms Sharpe is a passionate and inspirational teacher.
/ANGELA MCLUCKIE/ parent
Sarah Sharpe has worked with me from the start of high school. When I started high school I had just learnt how to read. With help from Sarah I started getting better grades and more confidence at school. After this I took more of an interest in my schooling and now I am at university which I never thought was possible.
/ANTOINETTE DAWN TROTT/ student
Our Family are fortunate enough to have had the guidance of Sarah Sharpe over the past 5 years. Three of our children have had guidance from her in various ways through Kapiti college. I would not hesitate to recommend her method to any one with specific learning needs. One of my children was 3 years behind in reading when he went to college and became very distressed about being exposed as dyslexic but with Sarah's discrete help in year 9 he was happy to be in the dyslexic class in year 10 and then in year 11 was so comfortable with who he was and his unique learning style that dyslexia could even be tried as an excuse for not doing the dishes. In year 11 using a reader writer my son was able to pass ncea level 1 with excellence in every subject including external English. Now he is is a confident 17 year old man about to head off to university having passed level 3 with excellence and an academic excellence scholarship for Massey university.
Aside from achieving academically well beyond his potential, my son and many others like him have thrived as citizens under the care of Sarah and her team at KC. I have been a GP and mother of 6 in this small town for 25 years and the cohort that has gone through under Sarah's guidance stands out as from all other schools children I have cared for in terms of academic, social and moral responsibility and acceptance of others. I believe every child should be given the opportunity of having their own personal leaning rainbow analysed and worked with and any one lucky enough to have Sarah on their team would have at least part of that concept understood.
/DR CHRISTINE COULTER/ parent
James (from a student point of view) has said that the assistance he received from Sarah and the Kapiti College's dyslexia friendly classes and teaching style made achieving the NCEA standards much easier and took the stress out of it all.
From a parent point of view, the dyslexia friendly programme at Kapiti College was one of the attractions for sending our both our sons there. We had come from a primary school where the head of learning recovery didn't believe in dyslexia and we felt it necessary to arrange for the testing and extra tutoring for our dyslexic son independently. Sarah and Kapiti College were great at providing support to both our son, and his other teachers, to enable him to achieve NCEA 1 with minimum stress for both him and us.
/BRONWYN HOEY AND ANDY BITCHENER/ parents
In the 3 years we have known Ms Sharpe we have been impressed by her dedication and passion she has for her students and the high quality teaching skills she brings to teaching dyslexic students. Ms Sharpe took an active interest in not only our son who is dyslexic but all of her students. Our son responded well to her engaging approach to dyslexia education while taking a genuine interest in their well being. Under her guidance and encouragement our son responded well in her class. Her close contact with us as parents was undertaken in a very thorough and meaningful way and we never hesitated in contacting her if we needed to know anything.
We would not hesitate in recommending parents and students to her.
/DIANE AND TOM REID/ parents
Sarah supported our daughter through her secondary school years at Kāpiti College. Meg struggled through primary school and was thought to have dyslexia. During her junior primary years she was also diagnosed with Irlen Syndrome. Sarah made every effort to accomodate Meg's learning differences. She provided a safe and welcoming place for Meg and empowered Meg to share her story with teachers, students and government officials.
We truly believe that Sarah was the one teacher who made the biggest difference to Meg's secondary school years. Sarah gave her the belief in herself that enabled her to achieve excellence endorsements at Level 2 and Level 3.
/JULIA BEVIN AND BRENDON HARRIS/ parents
When I first went into college I had the fear in the back of my head that I wouldn’t and couldn’t do as well as the rest because I had a little thing called dyslexia. At first, I thought I was going to fail my test and exams and struggle through the years barely passing anything or being able to get a good grade, but when I got put in the subject literacy while everyone was in philosophy I knew something was up. Turns out my mother had told the college I was dyslexic and they put me in a class with people like me. That’s when I met Mrs Sharpe. Mrs Sharpe turned a class full of people who felt like they were going to fail at school because they didn’t fit into the normal streamline education system into people who can pass an exam or test and actually achieve a grade better than they ever could have thought. Mrs Sharpe helped me and many other before and after myself with new techniques, skills, tricks and abilities to bend the education system from what was once something we didn’t fit in, to something we strive in. I pretty much owe my education to Mrs Sharpe and what she did, she was able to help me through my college years and will continue to help me with the skills she has passed on. Thank you for something that can only be the most useful gift anyone has received.
/MORGAN BLOXHAM/ student
I am a Mother of an ex Kapiti College student who has dyslexia. My daughter came to the decision by herself to go to Kapiti College for her secondary education even though her twin sister went to Paraparaumu College and all her friends did. It was one of the best decisions she has ever made.
She is off on her next journey in life attending University this year and doing a Bachelor of Arts Major in Education and Psychology, with wanting to do teaching and help the next generation of dyslexic children. I personally do not think any of this would have been possible without the amazing programs that Sarah Sharpe has put in place at Kapiti College and the dedication and support of Sarah Sharpe herself, who has touched my daughters life in the best way possible.
She is very dedicated and passionate about this field and our family know she will continue to make headway for the next generation and that she will play a major part in our education system going forward.
Our family wish her the best for the future and its great to know that Sarah is out there paving the way in this field for many years to come.
/LORRAINE CULL/ parent
Our son is severely dyslexic, and basically one of the most dyslexic children they have ever had at Kapiti college so far. Sarah came into our sons life at year 10, and has been one of the most amazing influences in his college life. The teaching, the support, the time, the empathy, the calm, the understanding from Sarah has been unconditional at all times. Sarah has the most captivating karma about her and get can get any child to learn even when times are tough for the child.
George has graduated with Merit for the past two years and we are so proud of him. Sarah has been an integral part of all our lives and she is truly amazing. Sarah has given George the confidence to be the young man he is today, we will never be able to thank her enough. If you are lucky enough to have Sarah teach your child in any way, your child will without a doubt be able to become whatever they want to be in the future.
/COLIN AND SADIE STUART/ parents
I would like to say how much of a difference the Dyslexic programme has made to my daughter Zoe. I can attribute the success that Zoe has had to the support and guidance that Sarah has given. Sarah’s guidance has given Zoe confidence in herself and to challenge herself in subjects which are complex i.e psychology.
Zoe came into the dyslexic programme under a dark cloud and ran the high risk of being removed, since then, Zoe has expressed how much she respects Sarah’s guidance and that she has an excellent rapport with her. Over the year Zoe has asked Sarah’s opinion or sought advice in relation to class subjects and personality dynamics with teachers or classmates, Sarah has always been accommodating, open and treated Zoe kindly and as a young adult, which Zoe appreciates.
Zoe has had a great NCEA1 year and that can be attributed to Zoe’s own perseverance and the unwaivering support from Sarah.
I believe Sarah goes the extra mile to give her students the opportunity and the tools to succeed. Sarah is caring and truly wishes to make a difference in her students' lives and I can say she has in Zoe’s.
/SEAN MORAN/ parent
For my daughter, school was extremely hard work and often lead to frustration and tears. So to have a teacher such as Mrs Sharpe there who not only understood fully these frustrations but to be able to offer her support in a positive and empathetic manner was extremely significant in my daughter's ability to not only cope with school, but to pass all of her subjects.
Without having the support of teachers such as Mrs Sharpe I would hate to think about what my daughter would've gone through and what she would've or wouldn't have achieved.
We are forever in her debt and know that Mrs Sharpe's knowledge and understanding will provide many more students like my daughter a way to cope and achieve great things during and post their school years.
/KEVIN SMITH/ parent