When Amy Davis was at school in the 1980s, she was labelled as “naughty” and told by teachers she’d never amount to anything. There was very little known about ADHD in those days, she says, and children with the condition like her were punished by teachers for “bad” behaviour.

That negative experience of school inspired Amy to train to become a teacher, she says. “I didn’t want other kids to have those experiences. That was my biggest reason behind my passion to become a teacher. I’m not in it for the money, I want to get in there and make a difference.”

As a result of a bad start at school and the poor teaching she experienced, Amy was stuck in a string of minimum wage jobs for years. Eventually she and her husband decided that for the family to move forward they had to make sacrifices so she could follow her passion for teaching.

She is now in her third year of studying a Bachelor of Education (Teaching) at the University of Auckland’s Manukau programme where she has consistently maintained high grades.

Her study has cut down on the amount of family time she and her family have had and Amy’s husband has had to work seven days a week to cover the bills.

“It was a big call to make. It has involved enormous sacrifices, from me, from my nine-year-old daughter and from my husband.”

Winning the University of Auckland’s Sue Caswell Scholarship this year (a scholarship for female students returning to teaching after a break for parenthood or being in the workforce) has taken a lot of pressure off the family.

“It has given us a bit more freedom and removed the worry each week of whether we have enough money to pay the bills.”

Despite the hard work and sacrifice, Amy is glad she choose teaching. She really believes teachers can make a difference.

“Children are literally our future. If no one cares enough to become a teacher, what’s going to happen to our future? If you want to make a difference, rather than sitting back and complaining, I would recommend training to be a teacher.”

Amy also advises other students to apply for scholarships. “Many people think scholarships are only for the highest-achieving students, but there are lots of scholarships for different types of students. You’ve got to put yourself out there to have a chance. Don’t admit defeat before you’ve started.”

Amy already has a job lined up when she finishes in November. She’ll be teaching at Howick Intermediate and says she’s “very, very excited and nervous.”

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