Mother and son Mandy Allen and Tyler Glenn signed up to ACG Sunderland at one of its first open days, in 2007. Mandy remembers the kids were well spoken, warm and friendly. “It all clicked. We didn’t look anywhere else, we didn’t want to go anywhere else,” she said.
Tyler was about to turn five at the time. Now almost 15, he has grown up at ACG Sunderland and gone from strength to strength over the years. Recently he was named as an Associate House Leader for Fleming. He loves basketball, he avidly follows politics and his blazer is weighed down with badges from the sports, activities and leadership events he’s part of.
“He puts his hand up for everything,” Mandy says. “The list of extracurricular activities only just fits in the box on his school report.”
Mandy believes the school has driven Tyler’s work ethic and kept him focused on his goals. He wants to achieve and succeed and actively nurtures his leadership skills – he’s undertaking a basketball coaching course at Unitec and coming to school to assist the coach with one of the College basketball teams at 6.45am every Friday, for example.
Seeing Tyler manage things he couldn’t do before has been significant. “The kids here are all seen, they don’t just disappear. Tyler’s had some learning challenges and how far he’s come is all thanks to the teaching staff and the people who have supported him at school, together with the hard work he’s put in.”
For Tyler, it’s hard to pick a highlight of the last ten years. He loves how friendly everyone is, no matter how old you are or what year level you are in, everyone mixes together. He has grown up with the same friends the whole way through. He loved the opening of the new gym, which he now uses all the time for basketball.
“And I’ve achieved in things I wouldn’t have thought possible. When I was in Year Four I couldn’t spell four letter words. Now I get a B in English. It’s a massive achievement for me. Mum was in tears at prizegiving when I achieved top overall in my class in Year 8.”
Mandy has been at the school alongside him throughout. In 2007, she started as volunteer parent help, in 2008 she became Mr Villars’ PA for a term and in 2009 she started managing accounts for the school, a role she still has today. She has also run the Primary school’s sports programme and looked after new enrolments.
While she tries to keep her distance from Tyler at school – “this is me as mum, this is me as a staff member” – she has managed his basketball team since he was in year 3, and admits it’s quite special being able to look out her office window and see what he’s up to.
So what’s it like for Tyler having his mother at the school?
“It’s good and bad,” Tyler says. “She’s always here if I need her, I can just go and see her. But if I do something wrong, she always finds out about it!”