Across School Leaders

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John Marwick Lead Principal

John is Principal at Forrest Hill Primary School and is the Lead Principal for Pupuke Kāhui Ako. He has worked in a variety of schools on the North Shore as well as in London and Hong Kong. He has a strong belief in and passion for creating true learning communities where all stakeholders are dedicated to growth and collaboration. John recognises the unique opportunity the Pupuke Kāhui Ako has to create a true future focussed community that has the capacity to build empathy and understanding of people’s beliefs and values.
John has worked closely with Hong Kong University to run a leadership mentoring programme for middle leaders across a large collection of International schools. He has seen the benefits of authentic collaboration between educational organisations on student learning and wellbeing. He is excited about the high level of expertise and experience that the teachers of our Pupuke Kahui Ako hold.

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Julie Saikkonen (Lead Principal 2018 – 2020)

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.

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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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Susana Tomaz

Susana coordinates the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Maths) and ESTEAM programme at Westlake Girls School. Susana has been working with a team of teachers to redesign the curriculum, cultivate learner agency and expose students to authentic meaningful learning opportunities in and beyond the classroom that are future focused. This includes curriculum integration across different leaning areas, community projects and business internships. The work has been showcased in the TKI Snapshots of Learning.

Susana Tomaz is originally from Lisbon, Portugal. She moved initially to the UK to complete her MSc in Fetal Medicine and Medical Genetics and research towards a PhD focused in developing innovative diagnostic tests for Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis at University College London.

Wanting to inspire more children into STEM, Susana completed her PGCE in 2004 and became a Science Teacher. While Head of Science at an UK school, she was involved in STEM projects with the Rolls-Royce Science Prize and the Royal Society, becoming one of their associate teachers in the UK.

Susana moved to New Zealand in 2014 with both her children and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Digital and Collaborative Learning with the Mindlab in 2016 to continue challenging herself beyond her Curriculum area, Science and Biology, having taught a range of curriculum areas including Robotics, Digital Technology, Business Studies and Visual Arts.

Susana has had various leadership roles including Head of Science for 5 years, Lead Practitioner Teacher in the UK and TIC of Junior Science at Westlake and WSL for the last 3 years at the Pupuke Kahui Ako developing opportunities for community engagement and student agency through curriculum integration and authentic interactions. An example of this was the “Meet Astronaut Mike Hopkins” in 2018.

Susana has been invited to present at the STEAM Education Summit in 2019 and the Computer Science 4 High School Teachers in 2020. Susana have also taken part in design workshops that drive change and innovation in the educational space, such as  “Education to emplyment matters co-design workshop” hosted by MoE, the Wonder Project design workshop by Engineering NZ, research workshop for NZCER on Curriculum Integration.

Susana believes STEAM pedagogy to be a great vehicle to building a culture of Excellence across our Kāhui Ako. STEAM creates learning experiences through community engagement, connecting educators and learners through collaborative inquiries, promoting Hauora and development of key competencies while driving student agency.

Susana is very excited to be joining the awesome Pupuke Kahui Ako team as an Across School Lead.

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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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James Wheaton

James is born and bred on the North Shore where he lives with his wife and family. He has worked with students in both Primary and Intermediate settings and is currently a teacher of Year 7 and 8 learners at Takapuna Normal Intermediate. James holds a Bachelor of Education (Teaching) and is studying towards a Master of Educational Leadership. He has held roles leading Literacy, worked on numerous inquiry teams and been responsible for the implementation of the Digital Technologies curriculum while also working as a Team Leader.

James is passionate about future focussed education, Digital Technologies to enhance teaching and learning, and the development and facilitation of voice, choice and agency in the classroom. He is eager to connect with others to share ideas, collaborate and assist with working towards the achievement goals of our Kahui Ako.



Paula Snowball

Paula leads the Year 2 team at Milford School and is an Across School lead for Pupuke Kāhui Ako.

Born and bred on the North Shore, Paula completed her teaching qualification at the Auckland College of Education and has taught across many schools in the primary sector, both in Auckland and the UK for the past 28 years . Paula has recently completed a Postgraduate Certificate in Digital and Collaborative Learning.

Paula has an interest in collaborative teaching and learning and is currently teaching in a shared learning environment. She is passionate about literacy and has embarked on a journey of building and implementing a structured literacy programme within Milford School. Paula is also currently developing her understanding and knowledge of Tikanga Māori (culture and protocols) and Te Reo Māori (Māori language) with other teachers within our community.

Outside the classroom, Paula loves to keep active, exercising daily, be it running, going to the gym, skiing, walking or playing touch. She has two teenage children that she is very proud of who have both attended several schools with our Kāhui Ako.

Paula enjoys collaborating with other teachers, sharing gems and new insights and is excited about what we can achieve as a community.

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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.