From HIPPY Mum to Teacher

Mary-Anne Schwenke in 2008   

Mother of three, MaryAnne Schwenke, first connected with Great Potentials back in 2003 when she started on the HIPPY programme with her eldest son, Dominic. It was a busy time for her – her daughter, Lucy, was only three at the time and she also had a new baby.

However, MaryAnne believed doing HIPPY was worth all the effort. 

“HIPPY prepared my children for school which is something I didn’t have. My parents were immigrants and didn’t speak much English. I remember feeling so intimidated when I first started school, I didn’t know the alphabet. I wanted my kids to get a good head start when they started school and HIPPY gave them that.”

Dominic graduated from HIPPY at the end of 2004, and is did well academically throughout his schooling, which MaryAnne attributes to HIPPY:

“At the end of Dominic’s first year of school, his teacher asked which pre-school he’d gone to as he seemed to have so much knowledge. He did attend a pre-school, but I believe it was HIPPY that made the difference for him.”

With all the confidence she had gained through the HIPPY programme, in 2006 MaryAnne began a Bachelor of Education at the University of Auckland. She had always wanted to be a teacher and the time was finally right to begin her studies.

Mary-Anne with her MATES Junior menteeWhile at University, MaryAnne heard Ann Dunphy speak about the MATES Junior programme, and her interest was stirred, and she decided to become a MATES Mentor. MaryAnne recognises how easily children get distracted and led astray and then lose focus and direction.

“I wanted to be an important person for a student who may just require some encouragement and faith in their abilities, to achieve their desired career or to reach any goal they set. I thought if I can make a difference at this stage of someone’s life, it will help them through their college years. It’s so easy to fall through the gaps in those years.”

Growing up, MaryAnne had been a painfully shy student and missed out on a lot of learning due to a lack of confidence.

She says, “Mentoring would have helped me to have the confidence to try out new things, get involved with other interests, and basically contribute more to my class and individual growth. I would have had a clearer picture of where I was going and what my interests were.”


Where is she now?

After successfully completing her University studies and becoming a qualified teacher, MaryAnne is now the Learning Support Coordinator at Kelston Intermediate School. Well done, Mary-Anne!


- Story adapted from Great Potentials Annual Report 2008