Originally from Samoa, it was Salamo Sooalo’s faith and love for music brought him to Levin. It’s here that he’s started his journey to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a teacher.
An experienced musician, Salamo coordinated church choirs around Samoa in the early 1990s and in 1996 moved to Levin to lead the town’s Samoan Catholic Choir.
While music is one of his passions, Salamo has always dreamed of being a teacher. His father was a school principal and Salamo was inspired by how he built relationships within the community and supported his students and teaching team.
“My father’s passion for teaching empowered and encouraged me to become a teacher,” says Salamo.
“I chose to do Early Childhood Education because I believe young children have the purest hearts. I love interacting with children and being part of their learning development. Children also can learn their culture, language, and identity through music.”
After hearing good things about UCOL from friends and family, Salamo enrolled in the NZ Certificate in
Early Childhood Education and Care (Level 3) at UCOL Horowhenua and followed it up with the Level 4 certificate.
These programmes gave Salamo a good insight into the development and behaviour of young children, and deepened his understanding of Te Tiriti o Waitangi, which is the foundation of New Zealand’s early learning curriculum.
“Studying Early Childhood Education at UCOL has enriched me physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I have learnt a lot about diversity and different ways to see the world.”
Salamo really enjoyed the practicum he did at Punahau Early Childhood Care Centre in Levin. The experience showed him what it’s like to work with children every day and how to create a learning environment appropriate for all cultures.
“I was amazed to see tamariki (children) speaking Te Reo, and I got to meet great kaiako (teachers), students, and whānau, and put what I have learnt into practice. I was immensely proud to use my teaching philosophy and personal approach while interacting with the children.”
“The experience helped me understand the interests of children and gave me the opportunity to prepare activities that will enhance their thinking.”
Salamo is excited to take his studies further in 2021, when he’ll start the
NZ Diploma in Early Childhood Education and Care (Level 5). Eventually, he wants to establish a kindergarten that combines Faʻa Sāmoa (the ‘Samoan Way’ – language, customs, and culture) with the values of Te Tiriti o Waitangi in its teaching.