Inspired teacher on mission to help others

05 August 2015
Jessica Weller
Jessica Weller

Teacher Jessica Weller’s life is rich with experiences for someone who has only just turned 30.

After achieving her goal to become a teacher she then followed her dream to travel. But she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer, HER2 positive, at the age of 27 while living in London.

She fought and beat the disease, and is now sharing her journey with the University of Auckland’s #MyTeacherMoment campaign.

Launched in early July, #MyTeacherMoment is a social media campaign and competition, developed by the Faculty of Education and Social Work to help raise the status of teaching in New Zealand while celebrating the incredible things our teachers are doing in our schools and communities. The competition will also see one lucky school win $5,000 worth of technology.

People can enter the competition by sharing their most inspiring teacher moment either through the competition entry form on or directly onto their Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #MyTeacherMoment as well as #the-name of a school or early childhood centre they want to win. The public will vote on their favourite moment, and every vote is an extra entry into the prize draw.

For her contribution, Jessica has described in a video how her former Faculty of Education and Social Work lecturer Alistair Wells inspired her during her studies.

“My most memorable teacher moment was when I had just finished a practicum and I said to my lecturer ‘I really want to save the world’ and he said to me ‘you can’t save the world but you can save someone’s world’.

“I was so excited to have somebody tell me that really helping somebody was not impossible and every single time I step into the classroom I know that I am making a difference. I feel like I have touched so many lives and made such a difference to so many students,” says Jessica.

Jessica grew up in the Central North Island and has fond memories of her time as a pupil at Ohakune Primary School.

She now lives in central Auckland. She took her lecturer’s advice with her to her first teaching job at Glen Eden Intermediate.

“I’ve made a difference not only to my students but friends, family and the people in my life. I know that I have saved so many peoples worlds. I may not be able to save them all but I can save some of them.”

Jessica has been working as a relief teacher since her return to New Zealand. She still calls teaching “the best job in the world” but she also dedicates her time to assisting agencies like the New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation, The Cancer Society, CoppaFeel! (UK) to help educate men and women about the prevention and awareness of breast cancer.

She’s already travelled to two conferences in the United States where she was inspired by the work to raise young people’s awareness to cancer.

But she still encourages others to try teaching, with some sage advice.

“Teaching is not just about you having job satisfaction. It’s not a ‘self-focused’ career. You have to remember that you are essentially shaping the future of those you teach. It’s a tough job, but the rewards and satisfaction are incredible.

“Be willing to learn as much as you teach and accept people as they are. Building good relationships with students is key”.

Learn more about this campaign or, even better, get involved yourself by going to

View Jessica’s video here


Anna Kellett, Media Relations Adviser