Fighting fit

Wednesday 6 April, 2011:

The return of Noa. At first he’s overwhelmed by people ‘looking’ at him. “It’s like they think I’m a criminal,” he says. He glares around him, ruffled and belligerent.

But when the boys pile in at lunch, wanting to help set up for project, Noa leads the charge. I feel my heart start to lift, as he and Libya direct the others to fetch and carry; hoist tables.

After class, when the tables are brought back up again, there’s one missing – the extra table is nowhere to be seen.

“Come on guys – go get it.”

“Nah Miss, they’re all back,” protests Noa, who is tired.

“They aren’t all back, look – there’s supposed to be one here –” and I point to the gap where the table should be.

“Are you sure, Miss?” sighs Noa.

“Yes, I’m sure,” I say, laughing at him.

“Cos there aren’t any more down there…” he begins, and I say, “Right boys, check your pockets!” and Noa laughs and laughs. It makes me happy to see him laughing again. The comment tickles him and he keeps shaking his head and laughing at me for a while. Then they go find the table, and bring it back.


Thursday 7 April:

Day goes alright. 12 History – with Chris, Noa, Kepaoa (Elroy’s brother) is even enjoyable.

Then I have the boys in to paint, both breaks. Libya and Zion, and Noa as well. That’s real fun. An audience gather at the big windows – but Zion’s not shy to paint anymore, and Noa and Libya never have been.

And Jack saves the afternoon. He says to me, just conversationally, as we head off to the library with 13 History, “We’ve got a stink class aye. Look at them!”

I laugh cos it touches my heart – the ‘we’.


Friday 8 April:

Painters in my room both breaks again, and Noa signs out from the Learning Centre to work with me all afternoon. He brings out his phone and shows me pics of his baby girl. She’s very cute – she’s at that real chubby stage: “Heaps of rolls, aye,” Noa says, approvingly.

We talk a bit about the board meeting. “Miss Kirk was tryna act like she knew me,” says Noa. “Talking about my baby, saying how she must be getting a big girl now and that… acting like she knew me.” He pauses, looks at me. He says quietly, “I nearly told her to shut up. I wanted to say: You don’t know me.”


Earlier on, I’m at the TI to drop off Inia’s forms. The lady there remembers me, and helps me out once again. She says she’ll arrange the interview for Inia next week, and if all goes according to plan he can start in May. I also explain, without telling her the exact details, that I need some additional paperwork for a ‘third party’ (this is Court) – evidence that Inia has applied and that his admission is pending. I know it’s an irregular request, but she does me up a letter on the spot, saying in the most matter-of-fact and understanding manner, “If the boy needs a letter, a letter he’ll have.”

However this meeting is preceded by an unpleasant run-in (via email) with Karys. I’ve already followed procedure and given management the standard 24 hours notice that I’ll be off site during my non-contacts. It’s not even a ‘request’ – and I’m under no obligation to provide a reason, but I do, out of courtesy, tell them I have an appointment at the Technical Institute.

Yesterday, Karys’s PA emails me back – the normal confirmation by Outlook appointment. I accept it (again, all standard procedure). So it’s sorted.

Today though, I see that the relief coordinator has got me down to cover a class in my non-contacts. I assume it’s an oversight. I mail him, forwarding a copy of my ‘Absent’ email, plus the Outlook appointment confirmation. Then I forget about it.

Half an hour later, I check my emails and find another message from Karys’s PA – it’s a new Outlook appointment which simply says ‘Appointment Cancelled’. There’s no accompanying note. Just, in the subject header: ‘Request declined’ (or something like that). I’m shaken by this at first, and a surge of something like fear ripples through me – it’s quickly followed by outrage at this blatant pulling of rank. My hands actually tremble as I compose the politest email I can come up with, under the circumstances. It reads:

Hi Karys, 

I have a meeting off site at 11:30, which I will be attending. I have arranged this in advance, according to procedure. I am confident that I have fully met my obligations to the school in this instance. 



A little later, I get a courteous reply to my courteous email (both, of course, holding the undertone of a stand-off). Karys says she has now arranged an alternative reliever. She says the relief coordinator would like ‘a little more notice’ in future. I suggest she inform us of this at staff briefing, so that we are all aware of ‘new’ time frames (which of course don’t exist). I mention that all previous directives have made it clear that 24 hours notice is required, therefore it is what I have given.

So, a satisfactory outcome. But nonetheless, not a nice start to the day. La-Verne (who’s the only person I seek advice from) emails me thus:

Awesome work! You can bet your bottom dollar that the Noa and Inia incident has really kept you above the radar. On Karys’s part I think it is a testing of the waters to see if you are still ‘fighting fit’… and you have just confirmed that, yes, you are.



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