Well suited to new position

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by Rachael Comer

The new director of a YMCA course has enjoyed breaking away from mainstream teaching.
Mike Pitcon is the new director of South Canterbury YMCA’s Opihi Services Academy, and after a couple of weeks in the job has already taken pupils on a bushcraft course and is confident he has made the right move.
“I’m really enjoying it and know it will be rewarding,” Mr Pitcon said.
The academy offers a programme to prepare young people for careers in the armed forces, police, fire service and other public service employment and, given his background, Mr Pitcon seems fit for the director’s role.
As well as having been a school teacher for 10 years, he is also a reserve soldier for the New Zealand Defence Force, a mechanic by trade, has worked as a builder’s labourer, and in engineering, and is a former volunteer firefighter. He has also worked as an ambulance officer, and been a scout leader.
“I’ve always loved the bush and getting into the outdoors, and I believe that’s where you learn real life skills, not in the classroom.”
His class has about 10 pupils ranging from 15 to 18 years of age.
“I’ve already been on a bushcraft course with them and they had to learn how to survive in the bush, make shelters and go tramping.”
He said during their time at the academy pupils would learn life skills and how to look after themselves – lessons that could not be learnt in a classroom.
“The students enjoy learning through the military flavour of the academy and I’ll be using that style more.
“The academy helps them work with each other.”
Mr Pitcon said spaces were available at the academy.
“Anyone who feels they’re not fitting in at school, we’ll take.
“We can get them to Level 2 NCEA.”
He said there was a great sense of pride in seeing pupils develop.
“It’s very rewarding to see.”
He said alternative education providers should not be overlooked by young people as they provided a “well-rounded education”.