Student Story

Leana Scheffer

As she prepares to celebrate graduation, Otago Polytechnic Interior Architecture Lecturer Leana Scheffer embodies the concept of education being a two-way street.

Student Story Leana Scheffer 1200X610 Story Header Image

Having completed a Graduate Diploma in Tertiary Education, Leana will join hundreds of others at the Dunedin Town Hall graduation ceremony on 22 September.

Clearly, Leana has a long-held passion for teaching. While working in South Africa, where she was born and raised, she jumped at the opportunity to teach, even if doing so required her to squeeze in lecturing each morning before her full-time job.

Still, as recent experiences have proven, Leana can cope with disruption.

Just over two years ago, she had all but packed her bags as she prepared to swap her home of South Africa for New Zealand and a new position at Otago Polytechnic.

Then Covid closed many of the world’s borders.

“Thankfully, because everyone adapted to working online, I did the same for many months,” Leana reflects.

However, a 10-hour time-zone difference meant she would wake in the small hours in order to interact with Dunedin-based learners studying the Bachelor of Architectural Studies.

“It is exciting for me that those learners whom I first taught online are now in their third year, so I now get to teach them face-to-face here. Reconnecting with them and seeing their progress is very rewarding.”

Leana Scheffer

Interior Architecture Lecturer

Leana says the Graduate Diploma in Tertiary Education, completed via Capable NZ’s Independent Learning Pathway (ILP), opened up new horizons for her.

“The GDTE’s work-integrated learning approach allowed me to apply new knowledge immediately in the classroom.

“The ILP process was amazing, as was my supervisor Jeremy Taylor, who modelled everything I love about teaching.

“I previously didn’t hold a formal teaching qualification, but I have several years of lecturing experience and a master’s degree. I built up my industry-relevant teaching approach based on what I had learnt while working in the architectural industry in South Africa and applying that to a tertiary education context.”

Originally from South Africa’s Cape area, Leana moved inland to Pretoria, where she worked for several years, but has relished the chance to be back near the ocean.

“Dunedin is such a beautiful city and its scale and character really speak to me.

“My husband and I didn’t know anyone when we decided to move here, but everyone has been welcoming and friendly. We had previously visited Wellington and enjoyed the sense of space and being in a less densely populated city. Dunedin is a great fit for us, and we cannot wait to explore the South Island.

“I also like the fact that Otago Polytechnic’s School of Architecture nurtures a studio-based learning approach that helps learners understand the value of strong relationships and architecture that responds to place. We keep growing every year.”