Across School Leaders

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Julie Saikkonen

Julie is Associate Principal at Westlake Girls High School and is the Lead Principal for Pupuke Kāhui Ako. She grew up in Taranaki, attending a small country school and then boarding at New Plymouth Girls High School. After attending Massey University in Palmerston North where she gained a Bachelor of Science majoring in Mathematics she taught Mathematics first at Palmerston North Girls and then at several schools on Auckland’s North Shore. 
Julie has seen Mathematics education evolve over the years from the use of log tables, slide rules to calculators and now laptops and computers. As HoD of Mathematics at Westlake Girls and president of the Auckland Mathematical Association she worked with teachers across Auckland on the introduction of NCEA and various trends in Maths education. More recently she completed a Master of Educational Management at Auckland University with a research project on ability grouping in Mathematics classes. 
Julie is enjoying her role as founding lead principal for the Pupuke Kāhui Ako. The achievement challenges around Wellbeing, Key Competencies and Community Engagement provides a strong platform to offer a future focused curriculum for our learners. Working with committed and innovative teachers who are driving collaboration from ECE through to post secondary is both exciting and challenging.

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David Smale

David teaches English Literature at Westlake Boys High School and is an Across School leader for Pupuke Kāhui Ako. He grew up in Taranaki, attending New Plymouth Boys’ High School, before moving onto Wellington’s Victoria University where he graduated with a Master’s Degree in English Literature; writing his thesis on the literary qualities of Bob Dylan’s lyrics. 
David has lived in Auckland over the past 14 years and he has enjoyed multiple leadership roles within the English department at Westlake. He is currently Head of Scholarship and Academic Pathway. Over the past seven years, his students have gained more scholarships than those from any other school in the country, a total of 263; 52 of these being at the elite outstanding scholarship level. 
Outside of the classroom David’s first love is surfing and he is now excited about passing on that stoke to his two primary-school aged daughters, Billie and Frankie. David has travelled extensively throughout North America and Europe, working for periods as a snowboard instructor in Lake Tahoe, California, and as an ESOL teacher in Jersey, Channel Islands. He lives in Torbay with his partner Maggie, who works in Communications, Billie and Frankie and their new puppy Wookiee.

Ritu Sehji

Twitter: @rsehji @foodwbhs @pupukekahuiako

Born and brought up in Kolkata, Ritu immigrated to New Zealand in 2000 with her family. She has a Master’s degree from Jadavpur University and completed her Postgraduate Diploma in Secondary Teaching in 2002. Ritu has taught at esteemed schools in Auckland. She is currently the Head of Food Technology at Westlake Boys High School and is an Across School Lead for Pupuke Kahui Ako.

Ritu is a published author of Senior Food Technology and Nutrition (a textbook that is used here in New Zealand and many other countries to teach Food Technology. She is a recipient of the Endeavour Teacher Fellowship award managed by the Royal Society of New Zealand and The Mindlab Next Generation scholarship.

Ritu incorporates an integrated cross curricular approach to projects. She is passionate about changing perceptions in the field of technology education through her innovative contexts. She has a constant drive to experience new challenges, take up opportunities to grow and encourages her students to do the same.

Ritu uses different platforms and apps to learn and teach her students in this ever-evolving digitally savvy world. Ritu has presented at conferences worldwide. She is also a Granny in the cloud for School in the Cloud.

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Darlene Lee

Darlene is a year 2 teacher at Forrest Hill Primary. Darlene brings to this role educational learning gathered from a thirty year journey of varied experience in pre-schools, as well as all primary levels, in both low and high deciles.  She has led curriculum teams, held the role of SENCO in two schools, and has been an Assistant and Deputy Principal, and a School Support Facilitator for TEAM Solutions. 
Darlene lives in Orewa with her husband  Greg and has two daughters. Outside the classroom she enjoys fishing, going to the gym, bike rides, holidaying in the sun & escaping to the peace and tranquility their house at Lake Tarawera offers.

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Charlotte Barrance

Charlotte is Year 4 Team Leader at Milford School and an Across School Lead for the Pupuke Kahui Ako. Charlotte was born and raised on the North Shore and attended Auckland University where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Degree (English Literature and Gender Studies) and a Postgraduate Diploma in Education. Charlotte is passionate about learning and aims to empower all her students to become lifelong learners themselves. 
Charlotte has had various leadership roles in which she has implemented initiatives to support future focused learning across teams and throughout the school.  In her role as Digital Technology Leader, she has developed programmes in Computer Science, including Coding and Robotics across all levels at Milford School. She has introduced Seesaw as a digital platform for sharing student learning and communicating with whanau. Charlotte is passionate about increasing digital fluency for all students; motivating and engaging them with the tools of their generation.  
As Conceptual Learning leader, Charlotte has successfully implemented a Growth Mindset learning culture through curriculum design and a focus on increased student agency in inquiry learning contexts.  Charlotte views the Pupuke Kahui Ako as an exciting opportunity for all our schools to connect, build capacity and learn from each other as we navigate a new era of learning.

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Aneta Dezoete

Aneta is a teacher of English and STEAM at Westlake Girls High School. She values student voice and these are some of the evaluations she received from her students last year: 
  • “Ms Dezoete engages the whole class and sometimes tells us little stories about herself that help our personal connection with her (which is funny and interesting).”
  • “She should stop not liking Harry Potter.”
  • “Ms Dezoete should stop sometimes answering questions when no one else answers.” (Not answering her own questions is one of her ongoing goals)
Since graduating as a teacher from Auckland College of Education, she has taught at a number of inner-city London schools, Birkenhead College, St Mary’s College and Westlake Girls High School. 
In order to stay outside her comfort zone, Aneta has taught a range of curriculum areas, including English, Drama, Social Studies and ESOL and has been a Specialist Classroom Teacher, TIC, Assistant HOD, Lead Teacher in a number of Ministry initiatives and, for the past four years, HOD English at Westlake Girls High School. Aneta’s Master of Education degree included a thesis on Professional Learning Communities in New Zealand secondary schools and she has a continued interest in developing teacher and student agency.

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Anita Knight

Anita is based at Sunnybrae Normal School in Hillcrest and is a Year 5/6 teacher. She has been an educator for over 25 years and has taught 4 year olds to 14 year olds within New Zealand, England, China and Singapore. Her background also includes experience with the International Baccalaureate Organisation’s Middle Years and Primary Years Programmes. A favourite role has been PYP coordinator as this created the opportunity to be fully involved in curriculum design and development. Previously she was also a workshop leader.
Anita is particularly focused on teaching through inquiry and building learner agency. At Sunnybrae, she co-leads the inquiry based learning team, with particular responsibilities around Science and Technology.  Another area of strength is around reading and writing workshops where student voice and choice are important elements. Within Mathematics, she provides a diverse programme including collaborative maths groups around problem-solving.
Outside of teaching, she is very family orientated and supports the various interests of her two high school aged boys.

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Michelle Cleaver

Michelle has been in the education sector since 1996 with her career beginning at Howick College as a Physical Education and Health teacher. Other roles have included Head of Physical Education and Year 8 Team Leader at Skinners Company School for Girls in Hackney, East London; National Assessment Moderator Physical Education for NZQA; and most recently has spent the last 4 years back at Westlake Girls High School as Head of Physical Education and Health. 
Michelle has an interest in developing programmes in traditional schools such as Westlake to encompass teaching and learning from across the curriculum. Setting up a Year 13 My Futures course to cater to underachieving and potentially disengaged students was something she enjoyed working on. She is currently working with AUT at trialling and developing resources to challenge Level 1 PE teachers to look at skill acquisition from a more contemporary perspective and not be constrained by the wording of the Achievement Standards which they use to assess students.
Michelle is married to Dylan who is a sports journalist for the NZ Herald. Her two children Liam and Libby keep her busy with the many physical activities they have chosen as well as quality family time in the outdoors.

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Abbe Waghorn

Abbe Waghorn is a teacher of Year 1 and 2 learners at Takapuna Primary. Born on the North Shore, Abbe has been both a learner and teacher at a number of schools within our Community of Learning. She holds a Bachelor of Primary and Early Childhood Teaching and has experience teaching learners aged 0-13 across Early Childhood, Primary, Intermediate and Montessori settings. Abbe has previously held roles as the lead teacher for Assessment for Learning, Education for Sustainability and Science and she was also a Team Leader at the Junior School level. 
Most recently, Abbe has been working to attain her Coaching Accreditation through Growth Coaching International. Coaching conversations aim to create a platform to improve the quality of conversations in school communities, supporting leaders, teachers and learners to reach their full potential. 
Abbe  has also been carrying out ongoing investigations into the implementation and effectiveness of teacher inquiry and collaborative practice models. She is currently embarking on a personal journey of discovery around Te Ao Māori (Māori worldview) including building understanding and knowledge of Tikanga Māori (culture and protocols) and Te Reo Māori (Māori language).

Sandy Dagnino

Sandy is the Staff Mentor Teacher at TNIS and is an Across School leader for the Pupuke Kāhui Ako. She was born in Genoa, Italy and immigrated to New Zealand as a pre-schooler. After completing her studies at the Auckland College of Education Sandy has taught across many Auckland schools both at Primary and Intermediate level, she has also been an Art Specialist, Team Leader and Acting Deputy Principal. Sandy has also completed a post-graduate diploma in Educational Leadership.
Whilst Sandy has broad interests across the curriculum her particular interests are in Science, Literacy and Inquiry Learning.  She is very passionate about working in an International Baccalaureate school because she enjoys observing learners develop into internationally-minded, caring citizens who aim to make a difference to the world. Sandy also loves the challenge that the IB Curriculum framework provides as well as the emphasis on collaboration, inquiry and conceptual learning. Teacher appraisal and inquiry are also areas of professional interest as is management and leadership within an educational setting.