TODAY |

Taranaki youngster back to school thanks to patient youth worker, after long-term truancy

Jack Lowe is new and improved, almost a completely different kid compared to the student who was truant from school for two and a half years. 

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For two-and-half-years Jack simply refused to go to school, then in stepped Brian. Source: Seven Sharp

Jack, from Taranaki, had simply refused to be sent to class and wouldn't budge even to the pleas of his parents, that's all until he met Brian. 

The circuit breaker was who Brian Gordon had a long career in sports science and team dynamics before becoming a youth worker for Oranga Tamariki. 

"An eight-year-old boy who hadn't been to school for two and a half years, that's devastating... the parent's were trying but had run out of options." 

For the first 12 months, he became a quiet, non-threatening presence in the Lowe family's life and became a priority for Brian.

"I think you can gain respect if you show respect and that will just evolve into a mutual two-way thing and that's when you can make things happen," says Mr Gordon.  

Only then, on the foundation of trust and understanding in place did he move to get Jack back into the school system. 

"He was scared, really scared, my strategy was minute, microscopic victories on a daily basis and then over a few weeks those little victories would stack up." 

It was the aid of Mr Gordon right alongside of his young student which led to those victories all in all. 

He attended classes alongside Jack for almost a year, due to his commitment to "this family to make this work." 

"We didn't throw a kitchen sink at it, we threw the whole kitchen at it." 

It may have thrust Brian Gordon out of his comfort zone, but for both Jack and the rest of the class he provided a great role model to look up to. 

"You look over and see these big legs and these little legs next to him, you think ahh Brian's here... not only was he a great role model for Jack, he was a great role model for the rest of the class," says Jack's former teacher Amanda Robb. 

With Jack now showing aptitude in the classroom as well as mechanical intuition in the backyard, Oranga Tamariki is citing Mr Gordon's work as an example of intensive assistance rather than intervention.