Couple that studied together graduate together

27 September 2017
Jill and Stephen Rowe
Jill and Stephen Rowe

Usually its parents telling the kids to do their homework, but Devonport couple Jill Shearer-Rowe and Stephen Rowe credit their three children as one of the drivers to getting their Masters degrees completed.

The pair got to graduate together last Tuesday at the University of Auckland’s Spring Graduation ceremony. Their son Tom, who graduated with a degree in Engineering from the University (Engineering) got to watch mum and dad in the crowd.

Their daughters are both studying, Clara is completing a Masters of International Development in Melbourne and Imogen is doing first year Engineering in Christchurch.

Stephen and Jill have completed a Master in Educational Leadership at the Faculty of Education and Social Work. Jill’s thesis, Pasifika students’ perceptions of strategies employed in a high decile secondary school to enhance Pasifika student participation, engagement and achievement identified initiatives Pasifika students found helped them to achieve. Few studies had focussed on the high decile school environment where as a minority student group, Pasifika students face a unique set of challenges. Jill’s study found strategies that acknowledged these students’ ethnic identity were most beneficial to their achievement and the students cited their relationships with their teachers as hugely influential on their ability to learn, as was the ability of teachers to respond to the needs of individual students.

Stephen’s thesis, Profiling Academic tracking and monitoring in low to mid‐decile schools that have accelerated Māori Student achievement.

He used NCEA Level 1 data to identify three low- to mid-decile secondary schools (decile 1-7) that had achieved steady continued improvement in Māori student achievement rates. He investigated practices in those schools to identify specific elements or experiences that accelerated or inhibited Māori student achievement.

He found strategic processes such as academic counselling, culturally responsive and relational pedagogy, teaching as inquiry and priority student-centered instructional decision-making to be effective in addressing the core reasons for the disparity in achievement.

The pair credit each other and their family for getting them through their studies.

“We definitely supported each other, as did our three children, all young adults, who took great delight in telling me to go and do some work,” Jill says.

“It is sometimes challenging studying while working- there have been quite a few rather boring weekends spent writing.“

They were both supervised by Dr Aaron Wilson.

“Aaron was not only incredibly approachable and helpful, really important traits for Masters supervisors when the whole research process is new to a Masters student, but he willingly shared his knowledge and experience,” Stephen says.

Stephen worked with Team Solutions (the Faculty’s professional development provider) as a facilitator from 2008 to 2017, helping schools across Auckland raise their academic results. He is now the Deputy Principal at Rodney College.

Both are former secondary school teachers. Jill now manages the Kohia Centre at the Epsom campus. She received a Teach NZ study award in 2015 which helped her complete her Masters.

Despite being out of the classroom she still recommends teaching as a profession.

“Teaching gives you a lifestyle with lots of variety and opportunity. It can be incredibly rewarding as you know you have made a difference for some,” Jill says.

“As teachers, we have had a great lifestyle with our children- we have taught overseas, an experience that was great for us and our children. Of course, we have also had some wonderful summer holidays!”




Anna Kellett, Media Relations Adviser