Cushla Shepherd

Cushla Shepherd

Year 8 Teacher / Lower Middle School Dean, Orewa College
Master of Educational Leadership student

Cushla Shepherd’s research aims to enable teachers and leaders to adjust successfully to changes in the curriculum and society in general.

“I chose this research topic because the school where I work was the first in New Zealand to fully implement one-to-one devices for increased student-centred learning. This was one of the things that made me interested in finding out what support educators need to transition to a new curriculum and new societal goals.

“As education and the world changes, so does leadership. I aim to use my research to help teachers and leaders recognise the factors and leadership practices that support or hinder pedagogical transition. The Master of Educational Leadership enables me to understand how educators can influence and lead.”

Choosing AUT
She came to AUT based on a recommendation from a teacher friend, Cushla says.

“This degree was strongly recommended by a friend. She believes that her studies gave her the knowledge and skills to pursue, and be appointed to, a school principal position. She spoke highly of the programme content, learning environment and the lecturers at AUT, calling the programme ‘a transformative education opportunity to learn about leadership for the 21st century’.”

Cushla has already been able to share the benefits of her learning with her colleagues, and has loved the intellectual challenge of postgraduate study.

“I’m continuously sharing my learning, research and ideas with my colleagues, and I have applied my newly learnt leadership theories to my roles of dean, teacher and Board of Trustees representative.”

Back to school
As a Year 8 teacher, Cushla was used to leading the class, rather than being a pupil. As a master’s student, she has been reminded of what it takes to get through a course successfully.

“Reacquainting myself with studying, writing and managing study while working full-time was all very daunting. My lecturers and the other students in my programme wholeheartedly supported me, giving me encouragement and feedback, and helping me to achieve.”

The opportunity to mix with others with a passion for education has been an exciting journey, she says.

“I’ve loved meeting other educators outside my school community. I now know I have the confidence and vision to succeed in postgraduate learning. This programme reaffirms that relationships and trust are at the heart of all learning and life.”