Kerri-Lee Krause in classroom with students

Educator at heart

Thursday, June 8, 2023
Brenton Stacey
About the Author

Brenton Stacey

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Brenton is Avondale University’s Public Relations and Philanthropy Officer. He brings to the role experience as a communicator in publishing, media relations, public relations, radio and television, mostly within the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the South Pacific and its entities.

Kerri-Lee a learner-centred leader

Professor Kerri-Lee Krause led and learnt from the brightest and best at Australia’s largest universities but has returned to her alma mater to give back. Building on the legacy of Seventh-day Adventist Church pioneer Ellen White, and as interim vice-chancellor, she is now the first woman to lead Avondale in its 126-year history. “I admire the tenacity and vision of Ellen White. She fought so hard to establish this place when resources were tight and when many had trouble imagining how it might work. Now I want to play my part in supporting success here.”

Not just in the boardroom but the classroom, too.

Kerri-Lee comes from a family of teachers and preachers. “The ministry of teaching is in my DNA and a love of learning drives me each day.” A third generation graduate of Avondale, her training as a teacher set her up for life. “I didn’t realise it at the time, but my degree formed a powerful launching pad for further study, leadership roles and research in the psychology of learning.”

That research tells us that in a fast-paced knowledge economy, students at university are looking for authentic, relevant and personalised learning experiences. And in a mix of face-to-face and digitally-enabled environments. Because students have all the information they need at their fingertips, says Kerri-Lee, “our role as higher educators is to foster discernment, critical thinking and wise judgement in the use of that information.”

While classroom-based learning is key, says Kerri-Lee, it is supported by opportunities well beyond the walls in the areas of physical, spiritual, mental, social and emotional wellbeing. “Holistic education is core to the Avondale experience, then and now.”

It has been exemplified by the role models in Kerri-Lee’s life. Grandmother Laura Kent, whose Alumni Heritage Walk paver she passes on the way into the office in Bethel Hall. So, too, parents Milton and Rhoda. And lecturers such as Dr Allan Lindsay who brought the history of the church to life and Dr John Cox who wrote a letter encouraging Kerri-Lee to stay at Avondale. “I was facing a decision point that would have led me to take up a deferred offer of study in medicine,” says Kerri-Lee. “Deciding to finish my studies here was a positive turning point in my career.” These and other people at Avondale, along with our Christ-centred values, “prepared me not just to make a living but a life.”

Kerri-Lee’s study of teaching underpins her approach to learner-centred leadership in higher education. So, she’s concerned that without learning spaces that live up to the reputation for quality at Avondale, “our students—particularly those studying teaching—will not be fully prepared for the future.” The most engaging experiences she remembers? When students “reflect deeply on what they’ve learned as part of their community of peers and say with confidence, ‘We did this ourselves.’”

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