Health and Physical Education Teacher, Otahuhu College
Graduate Diploma in Secondary Teaching
Bachelor of Sport and Recreation in Health and Physical Education
Becoming a teacher is an opportunity to make a difference to the lives of as many students as you can, says Moana Toleafoa who now teaches health and physical education at Otahuhu College; the same high school she attended when she was a teenager.
“As a teacher, you can help impart life lessons these students will never forget. I enjoy encouraging and motivating students to look at fitness as a positive element in their wellbeing. One of the things I’m most proud of in my career so far was seeing a group of Year 10 students who were falling behind persevere. Three years later they’re in their last year of high school and on the right path to gaining University Entrance.”
There’s much more to being a teacher than most people realise, Moana says.
“As a teacher you’re also a life coach, motivator, negotiator, entertainer and counsellor. Teaching involves a lot more than just teaching itself. Fortunately, my studies at AUT put me in a position where I was well aware of this beforehand.”
Supported to thrive
Moana’s journey to becoming the teacher she is today started with enrolling in AUT’s Bachelor of Sport and Recreation, followed by a Graduate Diploma in Secondary Teaching.
“I knew that I wanted to be a health and PE teacher, so I came to AUT because I was impressed by its innovative teaching, excellent reputation and focus on real-life experience. I came to AUT as a teenage mother, and everything about AUT catered to my needs and helped me accomplish my goal of becoming a teacher.
“Two of the lecturers who especially inspired me and helped me during my time at AUT were Dr Kirsten Spencer and Dr Denise Atkins from AUT’s School of Sport and Recreation. They both spoke about the need of teachers in New Zealand, and the pros and cons that come with a career in teaching.”
AUT embraced diversity, says Moana who was awarded a KUPE scholarship during her Graduate Diploma in Secondary Teaching.
“A highlight of my time in AUT was participating in its Samoan association. This helped me not only make friends but also find out more about other degrees available at AUT. The association helped me build a lot of confidence throughout my studies.”
Advice for other students
Moana, who completed her Bachelor of Sport and Recreation in 2015, has some great advice for other students.
“My advice is not to be afraid to ask if you need help. Everyone studies differently, and AUT is the right place to discover and explore different strategies. Manage your time wisely. Remember that nobody is going to do your work for you.”
It’s important never to give up, Moana adds.
“God never brought you this far to leave you; trust in him.”