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Teaching triumph for Otago Polytechnic

Teaching triumph for Otago Polytechnic

Tertiary Teaching Excellence Awards for seven Otago Polytechnic staff members

It’s been an extraordinary teaching triumph for Otago Polytechnic, with the announcement seven staff members have received the prestigious Ako Aotearoa Tertiary Teaching Excellence Award, celebrating New Zealand’s finest tertiary teachers.

Established in 2001, the Awards recognise some of the nation’s most outstanding teachers, with a key focus on rewarding teaching practices that are student-focused and committed to promoting effective learning.

The Otago Polytechnic recipients are seven of the total 16 educators to be honoured – sharing 12 awards. Each will take home $20,000 in recognition of their achievement

Otago Polytechnic’s Chief Executive Phil Ker says each staff member is extremely deserving of the award. “It’s such a wonderful achievement for the recipients, each of whom inspires and motivates their students through their passion, expertise and a willingness to push boundaries. It’s fantastic that so many have been acknowledged by the Awards Committee,” he says.

“I also feel very proud that we have 14 well-deserving Otago Polytechnic lecturers that have been honoured at these prestigious Awards over the past seven years. It is gratifying and rewarding to see our talented teaching staff being recognised nationally and a testament to the teaching quality at Otago Polytechnic. Our students are very lucky.”

Since 2001, more than 130 teachers have been celebrated through the Awards, which are formally presented at a function at Parliament and often hosted by the Prime Minister or Minister for Tertiary Education.

Bachelor of Culinary Arts Team – Food Design Institute

Adrian Woodhouse – Senior Lecturer
Daniel Pfyl – Senior Lecturer
Tony Heptinstall – Senior Lecturer

David Gillespie – Lecturer
Stephen Ellwood – Lecturer

Reaping accolades in the fiercely competitive culinary word is becoming a regular occurrence at Otago Polytechnic’s Food Design Institute. Most recently, the well-established Bachelor of Culinary Arts (BCA) team have become recipients of the National Tertiary Teaching Excellence Award; the first from Otago Polytechnic, to win an award as a team.

Led by the BCA team, the Bachelor of Culinary Arts programme is one of the only design-led culinary arts degrees in the world, fuelled by innovation and adventure in cooking. “The course doesn’t have a cookie-cutter approach to how we teach,” says BCA Senior Lecturer, Tony Heptinstall. “The students produce individualised projects, gain individualised learning and chose their own destination through our programme.”

The BCA team’s appetite for sharing culinary innovation has led to the abandonment of the master-apprentice model of education; replacing it with a customised programme in which teachers and students co-create the knowledge and learning.

“It’s not only the teacher delivering the programme to the student; it’s the student feeding us knowledge back, and that expands the programme,” says BCA Lecturer, Stephen Ellwood. “With the student being engaged, they ask more questions and they have more ideas.”

Mr Heptinstall says they encourage their students to question everything. “One of our major mottos is not ‘Yes, chef’, it’s ‘Why, chef?’

BCA Senior Lecturer Daniel Pfyl says their team works so well together because “we are open to all ideas, have robust discussions and always keep the students at the forefront of our teaching and learning”.

Judith Roddick – Principal Lecturer, School of Nursing

School of Nursing Principal Lecturer Judith Roddick has been teaching at Otago Polytechnic for over 29 years. A revered staff member among staff and students, she has an unwavering passion to share her knowledge.

“I love the students. I’m here because I’ve got a passion for passing on information,” says Mrs Roddick. “I’m an educator, but firstly, I’m a nurse and my mission in life is to improve the health services and health care that students give to people, particularly those that are disadvantaged.”

One of her primary teaching philosophies is to respect students. “I respect them for their opinions and would never put them down, because I think you need to be able to let a student say what is on their mind, because otherwise learning doesn’t occur.”

Mrs Roddick says it’s a “great honour to receive the award”.

Caroline McCaw – Communication Design Academic Leader, School of Design

Caroline McCaw is not only an Academic Leader and a lecturer at the School of Design; she’s a designer and advocate for community-based arts and culture. She’s been with the Otago Polytechnic School of Design since 2006, inspiring and mentoring students to become well-adjusted, confident graduates that have a social conscience.

“I really like helping students to see they have a place in society as creative people, and they can go out and change the world,” says Ms McCaw. “I like to help them find ways they can do this so they are passionate about their work and hopefully, can respond to some sort of community need. When those things come together, it’s magic.”

Ms McCaw says winning this award is an honour. “I am indebted to the fantastic team of lecturers I work with, to Otago Polytechnic for supporting me, and the many people in Dunedin who have had the faith to take on design students so that we grow together.”

Otago Polytechnic Tertiary Teaching Excellence Awards

2014: Bachelor of Culinary Arts team award

Adrian Woodhouse – Senior Lecturer, Food Design Institute
Daniel Pfyl – Senior Lecturer, Food Design Institute
David Gillespie – Lecturer, Food Design Institute
Stephen Ellwood – Lecturer, Food Design Institute

Tony Heptinstall – Senior Lecturer, Food Design Institute

Judith Roddick – Principal Lecturer, School of Nursing

Caroline McCaw – Communication Design Academic Leader, School of Design

2012: Jane Venis Creative Studies Academic Leader, School of Design

2011: Professor Leoni Schmidt – Head of School of Art

Peter Bilous – Snowsport/Avalanche Studies Programme Manager, Central Otago campus

2010: Maxine Alterio – Principal Lecturer, Educational Development Centre

2009: Judy Magee – Senior Lecturer, School of Foundation Learning

2008: Adrian Woodhouse – Senior Lecturer, School of Hospitality

2007: Margo Barton – Fashion Academic Leader, School of Design.



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