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Spotlight on STEM #2: Maths teacher Thea Kilian

In the lead-up to Tauranga’s inaugural STEMFest, we talk to our passionate STEM teachers about their inspiration for their subjects.


Thea Kilian is not just principal of ACG Tauranga – she’s also a practising maths teacher, with 21 years’ experience in the classroom. She talks about how teaching helps her be a better principal – and the magic of maths.

“Teaching a small group of AS Mathematics students is a great privilege; it keeps me connected with and focussed on our core business of education. It reminds me of the challenges our teachers face and how incredibly valuable they are to our school and our community. Most of all, it reminds me why I do what I do – it has and will always be about the kids. I still love every moment I get to spend in the classroom.

 Being an effective teacher requires skill, passion and commitment. It is about the connections you create with your students, sharing the passion you have for your subject, motivating and inspiring them to achieve that personal success. It is also about developing yourself as a subject specialist, always reflecting and improving.

 I simply cannot imagine a world without maths. It is how we describe and manipulate the environment around us. It is fundamental to so many other areas, like calculating a force in physics or balancing an equation in chemistry. It’s also fundamental to technology, in particular coding.

 Maths is a subject of strategy and skill. The rules are well defined and the boundaries clear, but how you solve the problem within those boundaries is up to you.

 Effective problem solving requires a very strong skill base. For students to truly enjoy the subject, they absolutely have to know their core knowledge and skills so well that it becomes automatic. This allows them to enjoy and appreciate the strategy side of the subject.”

What STEM looks like at ACG Tauranga
  • One block of Science a week from Year 1 and throughout primary school. Hands on and fun!
  • Specialist Science teachers teach students in Years 5 and 6.
  • Students in Years 7-10 receive seven lessons of Science per week
  • Three double blocks of Science per week allow our students the time and opportunity to gain practical, hands-on experience
  • One lesson of Computer Science per week from Years 7-10: students have fun with technology!
  • Weekly lunch time and afterschool Maths workshops allow students to work and learn together across year levels.
  • Physics, Chemistry and Biology available as specialist subjects from Year 11.
  • Robotics club enhances innovation and creativity

ACG Tauranga is a proud sponsor of Tauranga STEM Festival