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The Team and our Learning Space 

Students will be taught by qualified, highly experienced and passionate teachers with primary/secondary backgrounds, in a beautiful new learning space, customised to children's needs.


Sheena Ashford-Tait, Academy Director and Teacher


Sheena is a people person and enjoys bringing out the most in others! She enjoys sharing her broad educational experience, knowledge and skills with colleagues and students and helps them develop.  After 30 years, she is still passionate about teaching children whether in the classroom, through outdoor education or in small workshops. Introducing people to new challenges and encouraging them with direct motivation and involvement is a big part of Sheena's work and social life.

She is also a competitive sports woman, enjoying a range of individual sports at a high level. She is passionate about the Arts, and a keen follower of theatre, dance, musical theatre.  Performing, choreographing and directing are some of Sheena's other talents.


Emma Wilson, Kip McGrath Director

Emma with the man himself, Mr Kip McGrath as Kip Wakatipu wins an award at the Sydney Conference!

Emma with the man himself, Mr Kip McGrath as Kip Wakatipu wins an award at the Sydney Conference!

Emma decided that she wanted to be a teacher at the age of 11.  Her parents tried to talk her out of it, but it's a decision she has not regretted and it's a profession that she's passionate about now than ever.  Emma taught in primary schools across England for 20 years, in a variety of roles including Deputy Head, Special Needs Co-ordinator and Music Specialist Teacher.  Moving to new premises in Frankton in early 2018 was an exciting re-launch for the business, and Emma was inspired to invite Sheena to found The Academy to increase the range and scope of how we can make a real difference to education for all children in the Wakatipu Basin.


Sylvie Scarborough


Sylvie is French and has always loved teaching. Her life revolved around classical ballet from the age of 4 to 34. Then she swapped teaching ballet for teaching languages. She obtained her degree and Graduate teaching Diploma at the University of Auckland. She taught French in a private school in Auckland for 12 years (Kristin School / International Baccalaureate students from Y7 to Y13).

In 2017 she moved to Queenstown with her husband and 3 teenage children (and 3 pets!). Sylvie taught Spanish at Wakatipu High School in 2018 and is now returning to her passion : teaching French, its language and culture.

She still enjoys discovering the Queenstown area on foot or by bicycle and loves spending time in her garden.


The Academy has a dedicated learning space within the new Kip McGrath centre. 

It's ideal for small-group learning and is well resourced to inspire and engage our learners.

iPads and laptops are available for up to 12 students.  Learners can also BYOD and add to the Academy resources with their own books, artefacts and ideas.

Watch this space grow!


Lucy Geraghty, Kip McGrath Centre Manager


Lucy started working as a volunteer in schools about seven years ago and realised that working with children was her calling in life. She loves helping/watching them learn and grow. Lucy qualified as a teacher five years ago and has spent a few years working and teaching in schools, including spending a summer in Ghana working as a volunteer English teacher. She is very excited to be a part of The Academy and looks forward to meeting some really 'out there/outside the box' children!

In her spare time she likes to go camping and explore this beautiful country and just has to have at least one new experience per week! Her guilty pleasures are singing at the top of her voice in her car and having a mild obsession with potatoes and cheese! 


Claire Bryceland


Claire graduated from The University of Glasgow after studying an undergraduate and masters degree in Spanish and Hispanic Studies (making her fluent in Spanish). She loves to travel and has lived in many places throughout the UK and Spain. Claire has been working in education since 2011 and has experience teaching children and adults alike. Claire's favourite part of teaching is seeing those "light-bulb" moments when a concept clicks with a student and recognising that your support helped them make progress. Another key aspect which keeps Claire in this field is the opportunity to help build confidence and self-belief in others.

In Scotland, Claire was a keen mountain climber and marathon runner and so Queenstown is a perfect fit for her and she is excited to explore! Claire's passions lie in good food, strong coffee, great films and getting to know new people.