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Spotlight on staff: Leana Buxton

She’s the mother of three kids, a part-time teacher and an accomplished artist who’s currently training for the infamous Tongariro Goat adventure run [with fellow teachers Mr Howell and Mrs Webb]. We talk to Leana Buxton about what makes her tick.

How do you fit it all in?

Planning, prioritising, figuring out what’s important, saying no! To be honest, ACG is very flexible and supportive. Mr Hutchinson and I sit down and plan out in advance how it will all work. And I make it fit – Mrs Webb and I meet at 5.15am in the mornings to run together.

What made you become a teacher?

I love people and I love art. For me, teaching was a natural way to connect the two. As much as I love painting by myself, I really need the people contact and the relationships. And the pastoral side of it really appeals to me.

What’s your favourite thing about the job?

The kids. I love spending time with them. Their ideas and the way they think keep me in check.

You practise art in your studio at home. How would you describe your work?

I’m an abstract impressionist with an interest in the boundary between sculpture and painting. My work is primarily focused on mark making and how it relates to the form it is painted on.

What makes a good teacher?

Someone who can find a balance between setting clear, understandable boundaries and providing specific direction that kids can anchor to, and is also discerning and empathetic. And a sense of humour is crucial!

What’s the highlight of your time as a teacher?

It was probably last term. The Year 9s had been doing a term project that involved producing individual components. It was the final day of the project where all the components were being put on the wall as one. The way it came together and the kids’ reaction was quite special. It made me feel as though they really felt successful.

Why does the pastoral care side of education appeal to you?

On a personal level, I’ve experienced some challenges that have given me an empathy towards the kids. Becoming a parent enhanced that and gave me a new perspective again. In a lot of my students, I see bits of my kids. It helps me relate to them.

I believe at the end of the day, everything comes back to the strength of the relationship. If you don’t have a good relationship with the kids you can’t teach them. That must come first and foremost.

Can anyone be an artist?

Yes. Anyone who wants to, who is willing to put in a focused effort, and who is surrounded by the right support and knowledge. People often think that art and creativity go together. Actually, creativity and idea generation is a way of thinking that can be developed. And learning how to draw or paint is a methodical process. Both can be taught.

Mrs Buxton is leading a visual arts, performing arts and literature trip to New York next year for ACG Tauranga students.