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Within the nominated Gifted Education Learning Schools (GELS), a new role of Gifted Education Mentor (GEM) has been created to support gifted learners and to work with teachers. Each of the GELS also has a gifted education committee, including Principal and/or Assistant Principal and GEM. The role of the committee is to lead the identification process and support teachers in providing appropriate strategies to assist students.

 CENTRAL

 

 

Bonnie Tranchini - St Pius X High School, Adamstown

Gifted education has long been a passion of mine and I am thrilled to have been appointed to the role of Gifted Education Mentor (GEM) at St Pius X High School. I have been a member of the HSIE faculty since 2011 and I completed my Master of Gifted Education in 2021 with the University of New South Wales.

As GEM, I look forward to working with my colleagues to continue building on our differentiation practices, ensuring that students of all abilities are provided with opportunities tailored to their learning needs, whilst concentrating on offering specialised courses and assessment for our gifted students.

Moving forward, the focus at St Pius X will be on challenging our gifted students through a rigorous curriculum and various enrichment opportunities. With an integrated and research-based approach to gifted education established within the school, teachers will continue to receive support in implementing differentiated programming, creating challenging lessons with embedded depth and complexity and ensuring best practice in assessment.

Kate Buchanan Willis - St Columba's Primary School, Adamstown

I am very excited to be the Gifted Education Mentor at St Columba’s Adamstown. For the past 7 years, I have been working in the Maitland-Newcastle Diocese at various schools and I am enthusiastic about the opportunity to be involved in the GEL program. I am passionate about gifted education, particularly providing quality learning experiences and daily challenge for our gifted learners but also about guiding our teachers and giving them confidence in meeting the needs of gifted learners within their classrooms. We continue to deepen our understanding of the gifted learners in our school and support staff to implement differentiation and other provisions to support the diverse needs of our students. We are proud of our school culture that supports the differences of all our learners and encourages each individual to reach out and discover their true potential.

 

Shannon McGregor - St John’s Primary School, Lambton

I am the Gifted Education Mentor for St John's Primary School, Lambton. It is my responsibility as a GEM to encourage and facilitate opportunities for learning within our staff to enhance knowledge and skills. Integral to being GEM is recognising the significance of, and actively participating in, the strengthening and building of professional relationships with schools in surrounding areas. This includes an emphasis on transference of student information to our associated secondary school, St Pius X, Adamstown.

 Kim-Maree Smith - St John’s Primary School, Lambton

As the new Gifted Education Mentor at St John’s, my goal is to work in collaboration with the school’s Leadership Team and Pedagogical Mentor to further build the capacity of classroom teachers in the identification of gifted students and the provision of appropriate learning activities for them within a framework of tiered learning. I bring to the role decades of experience as a classroom teacher at every primary class level and across three NSW dioceses as well as in overseas schools. I look forward to the challenge of continued professional learning in the area of gifted education, including data and research analysis to inform evidence-based practice as well as networking with other GELS within our cluster. As St John’s GEM, I am committed to sharing this knowledge with colleagues to meet the diverse learning needs of all our students through a whole school approach. 

 

Jo Simes - St James' Primary School, Kotara South

As a Learning Support Teacher, I have always felt that our gifted learners need as much support as our less able students.  So, it was a great opportunity to be part of the CSO Working Party to shine a spotlight on gifted education in our Diocese. In the role of GEM, I’ve gained a deeper understanding of gifted education through completing a Master degree (supported by the CSO) and working with some experts in the field.

Since 2017, St James’ school has emphasised a slow and steady approach to building the capacity and confidence of teachers in gifted education. I hope to continue working with teachers to develop a variety of options for students to demonstrate their knowledge and further explore areas of interest, taking their learning beyond the classroom and curriculum, and providing experiences that extend and challenge their thinking.

Patricia McNeil - St Therese's Primary School, New Lambton

I am thrilled to be the new Gifted Education Mentor for 2021 at St Therese’s New Lambton. I've been an educator for over 25 years and am passionate about gifted education and teaching students to be critical and creative thinkers. In 2020, I taught gifted writers from Years 2-6 at St Therese’s and loved incorporating real world learning into our writing tasks. We published two books based on our new school library and Catherine McAuley. I have taught in rural New South Wales, South Korea, Canberra and the Northern Territory in many roles such as the Learning Support Teacher, E.A.L.D teacher and Classroom Teacher specialising in differentiation. I look forward to working with our school staff and students so that we continue to nurture our gifted students and provide stimulating and challenging learning tasks.

Toni Richardson - St Patrick's Primary School, Wallsend

Hi, I’m Toni Richardson and I’m an Aboriginal Education teacher with the GEM role for 2021 at St Patrick’s Primary School, Wallsend. I worked for many years as a Languages teacher (German /Japanese in Central and Lakes Regions of the Maitland-Newcastle Diocese.) Having a deep passion for gifted education (in particular Twice Exceptional students), I completed a Graduate Certificate in Learning Difficulties in 2017 towards supporting these children. I have undertaken many short courses in GE and in my 31 years of teaching and have been involved in GE initiatives over the years in Central Region. I look forward to growing in this role alongside a wonderful and enthusiastic GEL School Committee and contributing to meeting the needs of individual students from diverse backgrounds more closely through GE identification and differentiation processes.

Laura Slattery - St Joseph's Primary School, Merewether

As the new GEM for St Joseph’s Merewether in 2021, I strongly believe that every child can learn, and that every child is capable of a great many extraordinary things. I am passionate about supporting and nurturing gifted education with our students, parents and teachers. 

I am excited and eager to collaborate with the CSO Gifted Education team, other GEL schools in our Diocese and our St Joseph’s Merewether community to create and promote learning experiences that stimulate curiosity, engagement and enrichment. I look forward to supporting the growth and achievements of our students and to witness our learners reaching their full potential.

 

MANNING

 

Gary Pomplun - Holy Name Primary School, Forster

I have been the Gifted Education Mentor at Holy Name since 2018. In this role I have been privileged to receive many professional learning opportunities in gifted education. I have shared my learnings with my colleagues at school to ensure Holy Name has a consistent pedagogical approach from K-6, based on current research and best practice. Over the past four years, I have worked alongside my colleagues and parents of students to identify and cater for gifted learners at Holy Name. We have successfully implemented the Schoolwide Cluster Grouping Model, where each child is grouped with like-minded peers based on their individual ability and achievement levels. I work closely alongside the Pedagogical Mentors to drive curriculum initiatives at school. We consistently evaluate our progress through analysing student data to ensure our work is purposeful and making an impact to the students we encounter each day. I look forward to seeing the growth of all students and see what they can achieve when challenged and supported in their learning.

Kate Monkley – St Joseph’s Primary School, Wingham

St Joseph’s Wingham is very excited to become a GEL school in 2019. We understand the need to provide quality-learning opportunities for all students. Our commitment to gifted education will provide a vehicle to drive our discussions and collaborative planning to provide challenging learning opportunities. My role as GEM means that I can share my passion and enthusiasm for teaching and learning. I aim to share ideas that promote best practice in differentiation that is based on current research. Working with an exceptional gifted education committee, we will develop relationships that ensure all of our students work to their full potential.

 Victoria Prosser- St Joseph’s Primary School Gloucester

I am enthusiastic about reaching and engaging our gifted learners through collaboration with the Gifted Education Mentors across the Diocese in 2021.In all the international schools I have worked in, I have always strived to ensure that all students reach their full potential through a variety of differentiated tasks. As a Gifted Education Mentor, it is my goal to ensure that all key learning areas are covered in the gifted and talented program. This will provide students with the opportunity to showcase their skills in their chosen field.

At St Joseph’s Gloucester, we share the same values and beliefs around student engagement and ensuring that all our students are provided with the opportunity to excel. We encourage innovative and inquiry-based learning and are always looking for ways to strengthen our learning culture. We are looking forward to becoming a GEL school in 2021. Through our involvement in the GEL initiative, we will continue to grow together alongside our colleagues, parents, and students to reach common goals across the Diocese.

Niko Campbell-Ellis – St Clare’s High School, Taree 

St Clare’s became a GEL school in 2017 and I came on board as the GEM during 2018. As the GEM, I have had the opportunity to participate in PD, along with many of my colleagues, to increase our knowledge of how to meet the needs of gifted learners and I have also delivered PD to our staff. I work closely with teachers to support them in teaching their gifted learners through developing skills in areas including; recognising gifted learners, using data, planning for differentiation, teaching strategies, and formative assessment. 

 ALL SAINTS

 

Diane Murphy - Holy Spirit Infants School, Abermain

I am returning to the GEM role (2017-2019 at St Joseph’s Merewether) and now also as Principal at Holy Spirit Infants Abermain.  I am in a unique position as leader of learning to be able to build on the work of the former GEMs and use my experience to work towards enriching the depth of knowledge, skills and processes our teachers have in place for our gifted students. GE is embedded in our School Improvement Plan and is a continual focus for teacher growth and development as we focus on knowing our students and how they learn. Our school became a GEL School in 2019 along with Holy Spirit Primary Kurri Kurri and we network and share data as students transition to primary school. As an advocate for Gifted Learners, an area of interest for me professionally and personally, it’s great to be a part of the GEMs network to share good news stories and ideas that work. It is exciting to return to this role and to see the growth across our Diocese since 2017 with the number of GELs, each with an excited and passionate GEM, committed to supporting our identified gifted learners. The consistency of GE language, the consistency of commitment to meet the needs of our gifted students in the Diocese and the endless innovations GEL schools can now collaboratively share across primary and secondary is inspiring! 

Penny Bannister - Holy Spirit Primary School, Kurri Kurri

I am very excited to be a part of Holy Spirit Primary School Kurri Kurri’s journey as a GEL (Gifted Enriched Learning) School. I have been teaching for 17 years and have taught in 4 different Diocese of NSW. I am enthusiastic and passionate about gifted education and improving and enriching the learning of all students at Holy Spirit.  In my role as GEM (Gifted Education Mentor) I will assist staff members in identifying students who present in the gifted range.  Once these students have been identified I will support my colleagues to ensure that all students are catered for. 

Kiera Campbell - All Saints College, St Peter's Campus, Maitland

As the Gifted Education Mentor (GEM), I am thrilled to continue the legacy of our previous GEMs at All Saints College. I will build the capacity of my colleagues to differentiate for our gifted learners, and supply our students with real-world, authentic learning experiences. I recognise and value the whole child, and endeavour to provide individualised learning experiences to support and nurture the students within our care. With previous experience at Big Picture School, I am passionate about creating Project and Inquiry Based Learning opportunities for our learners at All Saints. I am enrolled to complete my PHD thesis at the University of Newcastle alongside Professor John Fischetti and Dr Tracey Kelty, titled ‘An evaluation of curriculum innovation frameworks: reframing the contemporary classroom’. I will use this learning to support my role as the GEM at All Saints College.

Jenny McFadyen – St John the Baptist Primary School, Maitland

Being the GEM at St John the Baptist has meant that I now have the professional training and the support of the CSO to identify students’ needs, to support them to reach their own potential and develop their abilities. While I’ve been organising and implementing existing gifted program for the last few years at St John’s, my GEM role has provided me with the opportunity to ensure teachers are well supported in their programming and teaching. This support will afford the opportunity to provide challenging activities in the classroom that allow for enrichment and extension to occur. As we move into 2018, I look forward to continuing my collaboration with the other All Saints GEL schools as we ensure that we maximise each students learning potential.

Jessica Palmer – St Joseph's Primary School, East Maitland

St Joseph’s Primary School, East Maitland began their gifted education journey in 2017. I started my role as a Gifted Education Mentor in 2020 and I am excited to be involved in supporting differentiated educational opportunities to meet the needs of our gifted leaners. Prior to becoming a GEM, I have participated in a variety of initiatives to cater for gifted learners while working on the gifted committee at St Joseph’s. Our focus for gifted education at St Joseph’s is working with teachers and parents in identifying Gifted Learners and assisting with the process of developing talent by providing specific opportunities for learning, training and practise. My role as GEM involves assisting teachers with collating and analysing data, identifying the strengths and needs of students and providing appropriate teaching practices that meet the diverse needs of our gifted learners.

 NORTH

 

Melissa Smith  - St Columban's Primary School, Mayfield

I feel extremely excited and privileged to be the Gifted Education Mentor for St Columban’s, Mayfield. St Columban’s has been a GEL school since 2017 and I am very fortunate to be surrounded by knowledgeable colleagues to support me in this new role. I have completed my Mini Certificate through Gerric and am in my 20th year of teaching. I’m passionate about Gifted Education and look forward to facilitating our continued journey on creating quality learning environments that value critical and creative thinking. As the GEM, I look forward to collaborating with my colleagues to identify, nurture and provide quality, differentiated learning opportunities for all of our gifted students.

Emma Conserdyne – Corpus Christi Primary School, Waratah

As the Gifted Education Mentor for Corpus Christi Waratah, I have the privilege of working with staff and students to ensure that students with high abilities are challenged to succeed. I have had a varied career, teaching students with outstanding abilities in the Sydney and Maitland- Newcastle Dioceses. I continue to put into practice my passion for gifted education, understanding the unique characteristics of gifted learners, and ensuring all students work to their potential. I have a Graduate Certificate in Gifted Education (UNSW). I am looking forward to working with our cluster of schools at St Columban’s Mayfield, St Peter’s Stockton, St Michael’s Nelson Bay and San Clemente Mayfield.

Sharon Tutton - St Michael's Primary School, Nelson Bay

I am thoroughly enjoying my role as Gifted Education Mentor at St Michael’s. I have always had a strong interest in gifted education and how classroom and school-wide practices impact gifted students in mixed ability classrooms. I have been part of the St Michael’s community since 2004 and have undertaken various roles during this time including classroom teacher, EAL/D teacher and Aboriginal Education teacher. I believe experience in these roles has given me a greater understanding of gifted students across diverse cultural groups. I have completed a Graduate Certificate in Gifted Education at the University of New South Wales and this has extended my professional knowledge in this area. My focus in this role is to maintain our school wide commitment to strong identification procedures and staff professional development whilst assisting and supporting teachers in developing differentiated programs to ensure all students experience personal growth. 

Jane Boyd – St Peter’s Primary School Stockton

St Peter’s, Stockton become a GEL school in 2020. In my role as Gifted Education Mentor, I will encourage and facilitate opportunities for learning within our staff to enhance knowledge and skills in gifted education. I’ve engaged in professional learning opportunities focusing on gifted education, completing the mini-certificate of Gifted Education and am eager to harness the collective talents and professional capabilities of our staff to stimulate opportunities for student engagement, enrichment, creativity and enthusiasm for quality learning opportunities. Integral to the role of GEM is the building of professional relationships with schools in surrounding areas, working with our cluster of schools at St Columban’s, Mayfield, Corpus Christi, Waratah, St Michael’s, Nelson Bay and San Clemente, Mayfield. I am thrilled to take on the role of GEM for St Peter’s introduction as a GEL school and look forward to the opportunity to enhance and challenge students within our school community.

Summar Harrison - San Clemente Secondary School

I began my role as San Clemente’s Gifted Education Mentor in 2021 and have loved building on the work of former GEMs who started us on the gifted education journey as a GEL school in 2017.

I have enjoyed working at San Clemente for five years as part of the HSIE and Religious Studies faculties. I am looking forward to completing a Master of Education in Evidence-Based Teaching through Melbourne University in 2021 and continuing to shine a spotlight on the value of data in schools.

I believe in the importance of using evidence-based strategies to support teachers in differentiating to best meet the intellectual needs of our gifted students. I look forward to further collaboration with my colleagues and supporting gifted students in their transition from primary to high school and their continued success at San Clemente.

LOCHINVAR

 

Caroline Donohoe - St Joseph's College, Lochinvar

St Joseph’s began as a Gifted Education Lead School in 2018 and I am privileged to be continuing our journey in 2021. Over the past three years I have been involved in gifted education at our school in a variety of roles including mentoring our Virtual Academy students in Years 7 and 8 as well as being an active member of our Gifted Education Committee. I am an English and Religious Studies teacher who teaches all Years across 7–12. I am also the Tournament of Minds coordinator at our school and have achieved success with our school teams at both regional and state level. My focus this year will be building teacher capacity in differentiated practice for gifted students at our school, to ensure they have the opportunity to reach their potential. I also look forward to working with Gifted Education Mentors from across the Diocese and within our cluster. By adopting this collaborative approach within the gifted space at SJL, I hope to foster students love of learning and challenge them as learners within our school community.

Cate Lawler - St Patrick’s Primary School, Lochinvar

St Patrick’s Lochinvar became a Gifted Education Lead School in 2018. Since this time I have worked as a member of our Gifted Education Committee to support teachers in the identification of our gifted learners and implement high quality teaching practices that meet the needs of gifted students across our school. To support this process, St Patrick’s has adopted the cluster grouping model across Years 3–6 and the use of flexible group organisation in Mathematics and English. In 2019 I made the commitment to extend on my interest in gifted education by becoming the GEM in conjunction with my role as Learning Support Teacher. Both roles provide a unique perspective where I am able to advocate for students and support teachers in providing a curriculum specific to a student’s individual learning needs.

Jessica Mead - Rosary Park Catholic School, Branxton

Rosary Park Catholic School became a Gifted Education Lead School in 2018. I have been in the role of Gifted Education Mentor (GEM) since Term 4 of 2019, beginning in an acting role before being appointed in 2020. I am passionate about meeting the needs and creating opportunities for students presenting in the gifted range. As the GEM at Rosary Park, I work closely with our teachers to support them in creating effective differentiated learning opportunities for our school community. We are proud to work with the other GEL schools within our cluster, St Joseph’s College, Lochinvar and St Patrick’s Primary School, Lochinvar. As a staff we work collaboratively to create rich learning experiences for all students. At Rosary Park we have a strong focus on embedding Critical and Creative Thinking routines in our programs to cater for all students especially the children presenting in the gifted range.

CHISHOLM

 

Michelle Burgess – St Bede’s Catholic College, Chisholm

We have witnessed our school community grow by the addition of another cohort and the employment of more amazing staff at St Bede's Catholic College. Being a part of the new Gifted Education Lead Schools with Our Lady of Lourdes, Tarro and St Aloysius, Chisholm is an exciting adventure that commenced late last year. Our collaborative approach will allow all students progressing to secondary education to have the best possible opportunity to recognise, appreciate and develop their gifts into talents. From our very first day in 2018, St Bede’s have offered various opportunities of cross-curricular learning experiences in all KLAs, implemented the cluster model in Science, Mathematics, PDHPE, English and HSIE classes and embraced the flexible learning design. Our school-wide focus this year, is to exemplify differentiated learning in the classroom where all students are challenged and can develop their love of learning. 

Jessica Moulder St Aloysius Catholic Primary School, Chisholm

St Aloysius is very excited about being a Gifted Education Lead School (GEL) and strengthening our ties with the other schools in our cluster, St Bede’s Chisholm and Our Lady of Lourdes, Tarro. I am passionate about gifted education and seeing all students holistically fulfil their true potential. My journey working in gifted education began over 10 years ago and fits perfectly with my other passion area of contemporary learning and STEM education. I am really looking forward to supporting and empowering our staff to best cater for the students they teach through developing their students’ creative and critical thinking skills as well as other differentiated learning opportunities. I look forward to seeing the growth of our students and what they can truly achieve.

Kathryn Stuart - Our Lady of Lourdes Primary School, Tarro

OLOL, Tarro is looking forward to our journey to becoming a Gifted Education Lead School for 2019. Our focus this year is identifying the gifted students in our school and then identifying the ways that we are going to catering for these students. Our school is looking forward to the professional development and knowledge we will gain from our journey being a Gifted Education Lead School. As the GEM, my role is to facilitate this professional development, knowledge and understanding of gifted education. We are looking forward to working with St Aloysius and St Bede’s, as the new cluster of Chisholm.

LAKES

 

Sonya Boslem - St Francis Xavier Primary, Belmont

St Francis Xavier’s Primary School is very pleased to become a GEL school in 2021. As Principal and Gifted Education Mentor, I will be leading the journey of prioritising the implementation of gifted education initiatives within the school. I look forward to working closely with the teaching staff to assist in creating rich learning opportunities for students so they can reach their true potential. I believe that our system approach to gifted education provides greater consistency across the Diocese and the ability to network and collaborate with other schools will be invaluable as we progress through 2021 and beyond. On a personal note, gifted education has always been an area of interest for me. Throughout my career I have been involved with the implementation of programs across a variety of grades and stages. I am grateful that we now have strong support and direction for gifted education. It will be exciting to witness the benefits of being a GEL school and the opportunities that will evolve for the students of SFX Belmont now and into the future.

Sue Hatfield-Smith - St Paul's Catholic College, Booragul

I am energised by the prospects facing me as GEM next year at St Paul’s, Booragul. I am looking forward to joining the Gifted Education team as we challenge the boundaries of our classrooms and develop the skills and competencies of our all learners. I have been teaching and leading English for 15 years, and over this time have become increasingly interested in testing the framework of our education system so that it allows staff and students to develop and finesse their learning skills for the 21st century. As the GEM, I see my role as an opportunity to explore the learning capacities of these students and have them share these skills collaboratively with their peers. Working with these students gives me an opportunity to improve my own practice and share my findings with my colleagues to create whole school improvement. It is an opportunity for gifted education to become a part of the fabric of the school.

Cathy Curk -  St Joseph’s Primary, Charlestowm

Our school is beginning its journey as a Gifted Education Lead School in 2021. I am the Gifted Education Mentor (GEM) here at St Joseph’s, Charlestown. I have been a classroom teacher for 11 years and I am nearing completion of a Master in Gifted Education at UNSW. I hope to put the theory I have learnt in my studies into practice as the GEM. This year our focus at St Joseph’s is on identifying gifted students at our school and ensuring their specific needs are being met daily in the classroom and in their own independent learning.

Elisa Milajew- St Mary’s Catholic College, Gateshead

I am excited about the possibilities as I look forward to starting the journey for our school as we join the Gifted Education team. I have been teaching for 27 years and hope to lead by example in providing stimulating and enriching learning activities in my teaching practice and encourage staff and students to explore and build on their gifts. Our focus as a school for 2021 is to identify the gifted students and develop exciting opportunities for these students across the KLAs. We will be looking to create coherence and strong up take from our staff in to truly imbed gifted education into the fabric of our teaching and learning. I have a reflective nature and enjoy thoughtfully evaluating my own professional teaching practice. I am always learning and relish the challenge of teaching new curricula using fresh approaches. As GEM I see my role as a chance to share the excitement of challenging staff and students to see what they can achieve as they engage in collaborative learning. I anticipate that my role will involve the facilitation of professional development for staff as we learn together, with our primary schools, the best way forward for gifted education.

Shanell Tregidgo - St Paul’s Primary School, Gateshead

St Paul’s Primary School, Gateshead is thrilled to be starting our journey as a Gifted Education Lead School in 2021. I look forward to working with knowledgeable others and personnel from the Catholic Schools Office to implement the Diocesan wide Gifted and Talented Education Policy. I believe as educators it is our role to ensure all children regardless of gender, race, ability or social class can succeed. Through high quality teaching practices and differentiation, we aim to meet the needs of all students including those who are gifted. 

I am passionate about gifted education and enjoy providing students with challenging, open ended learning opportunities. This year I look forward to supporting all the staff at St Paul’s in providing strategies for improving and enriching the learning of all students. 

Monica Shanahan - St Joseph’s Primary School, Kilaben Bay

I am very excited to be the new Gifted Education Mentor here at St Joseph’s, Kilaben Bay. I look forward to working with staff and students and strengthen our understanding of Gifted Learners. I am also the Learning Support Teacher here and feel that the two roles work very well together in offering and providing individual learning opportunities to our students. 

Cathy Curk - St Patrick’s Primary, Swansea

Our school is beginning its journey as a Gifted Education Lead School in 2021. I am the Gifted Education Mentor (GEM) here at St Patrick’s Swansea. I have been a classroom teacher for 11 years and I am nearing completion of a Master in Gifted Education at UNSW. I hope to put the theory I have learnt in my studies into practice as the GEM. This year our focus at St Patrick’s is on identifying gifted students at our school and ensuring their specific needs are being met daily in the classroom and in their own independent learning.

Andrew Holstein - St Mary’s Primary School, Warners Bay

St Mary’s Warners Bay is excited to be a Gifted Education Lead (GEL) school. Since becoming a GEL school, we have strengthened our understanding to identify gifted learners and provide quality learning experiences for our students. We are committed to differentiate our teaching to allow every student reach their full potential. St Mary’s has deepened its relationship with surrounding GEL schools in the Lakes cluster and we look forward to continuing to work with the schools. As the Gifted Education Mentor, I enjoy supporting our school community to provide meaningful opportunities for students to be engaged and challenged in their learning.

Kerrie Murphy -WINDALE, St Pius X Primary

I am the Gifted Education Mentor at St Pius X Primary School, Windale. The school and I are new to the GEL community. We are excited about the opportunity to work and learn from other more experienced GEL schools in our surrounding area. I have worked as a primary teacher for over 16 years, across NSW and overseas, 10 of those years have been at St Pius X Windale. As the Gifted Education Mentor, I plan to share the knowledge I acquire with my colleagues to develop and implement strategic whole school differentiation to support and nurture students and families of St Pius X. We look forward to the journey ahead.

Ashley Kennedy - St John Vianney Primary School, Morisset

I’m delighted about my new role as Gifted Education Mentor at St John Vianney this year. Our school began its journey as a Gifted Education Learning School in 2019, and our focus has been on identifying the gifted students in our school community. Our focus this year will be to support our school community to provide meaningful opportunities for students to be engaged and challenged in their learning. I took up this role as I’m passionate about teaching and ensuring I meet the needs of all my students. I’ve previously been an EMU specialist teacher which allowed me to provide intensive learning opportunities for students that struggled in Mathematics. This led me to develop my expertise and leadership in Mathematics. I’m keen to immerse myself into the GEL program and work with students to better cater for their individual learning needs.

Paige Farrow - Holy Cross Primary School, Glendale

I am the Gifted Education Mentor for Holy Cross Primary School Glendale. I have been teaching in the Maitland Newcastle Diocese for 7 years. Holy Cross is very excited about being a Gifted Education Lead School (GEL). As a team we are continually deepening our understanding of the gifted learners in our school and working together to provide appropriate educational programs and interventions to support the diverse needs of our students and enable them to achieve their full potential. I am looking forward to deepening our relationship with surrounding GEL schools in the Lakes cluster. 

Fiona Stretton  - St Kevin's Primary School, Cardiff

I am thrilled to be taking on the role of Gifted Education Mentor at St Kevin’s, Cardiff in 2021. I will be the second staff member at our small school to take part in this program since we joined as a Gifted Education Lead School in 2019. I am eager to continue to support staff to ensure the pedagogy at St Kevin’s consists of differentiated, engaging lessons which promote critical and creative thinking. I look forward to working with our staff, other Gifted Education Mentors and knowledgeable others from the CSO to ensure our gifted students continue to be challenged, flourish and grow.

UPPER HUNTER

 

Helen Feeney - St Catherine's Catholic College, Singleton

Our school began its journey as a Gifted Education Lead School in 2020. As the only K–12 school in the Diocese, I am in a unique position to work closely with the secondary GEM, Richard Turnbull. I am the Gifted Education Mentor (GEM) for the Primary sector here at St Catherine’s Catholic College in Singleton. I have been a classroom teacher to Assistant Principal in the UK for 15 years, 8 years in NSW, Australia as Primary Coordinator for the last 4 years. I have successfully completed a Master in Gifted Education at UNSW. I hope to continue to utilise the skills I have developed during my studies by advocating for gifted students and the gifted education field. This year my focus will be on ensuring the specific needs of our gifted students are met daily in the classroom and in their own independent learning. I will assist teachers with strategies to plan and implement effective differentiation within mixed-ability classrooms based on current educational research. I am very excited to be working in this specialised field and in assisting to affect change for the benefit of gifted students, especially within the Virtual Academy.

Richard Turnbull - St Catherine's Catholic College, Singleton

St Catherine’s Catholic College, Singleton became a Gifted Education Lead (GEL) school in 2020. St Catherine’s is unique in the Diocese being the only K-12 school. I began working as the secondary Gifted Education Mentor (GEM) in Term 4, 2020 and enjoyed collaborating with the College’s primary GEM Helen, who has offered me great support and guidance. I have been a teacher for over 30 years, 20 of that as a Studies Coordinator. During this time, I have worked with many students with many different needs. I have also enjoyed strong professional relationships with the teachers I have worked with. I have a broad range of interests, such as music, art and literature, which I hope will serve our students and the GEM position well. In 2020 St Catherine’s focus was to identify our gifted students. I was largely concerned with the necessary administrative tasks of the GEM role. I am now looking forward to working with Helen, the College community, and most importantly the students to realise St Catherine’s GEL vision.

Shannon Hall – St James' Primary School, Muswellbrook

I am the Gifted Education Mentor of St James’ Primary School, Muswellbrook. I have been teaching for 22 years in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle, with seven of those years in the position of Education Officer (Learning Technologies) with our Catholic Schools Office. I recently completed a Master of Leadership and Management in Education with the University of Newcastle. I returned to our school in 2019 and along with the GEM position, I am also the school’s Assistant Principal and Pedagogical Mentor, which takes me out of my own classroom, but also allows lots of opportunities for me to work with students in all classrooms across our school. We are excited that our school has been given the opportunity to begin our journey with Gifted Education Lead Schools (GEL) in 2020, with other primary and secondary schools in the Upper Hunter. Along with the other members of our school’s GEL committee, my role is to assist teachers in the identification of our gifted students, as well as facilitating staff professional development in the implementation of classroom teaching strategies to effectively cater for all students. My aim is to support colleagues in the development of educational programs to meet the diverse needs of students who present within the gifted range. I look forward to working with the other schools in our region to ensure we are consistently communicating and collaborating for a sustainable approach to gifted education across our schools.

Courtney Smith – St Joseph’s Primary School, Denman

I’m Courtney Smith and I am ecstatic to be working as the GEM for St Joseph’s Denman for 2021. I am looking forward to working with the Upper Hunter Schools within our Cluster Meetings and other schools within our Dioceses. Our team of Teachers are all on board to deliver effective and relevant lessons to all students. I am excited to help build teacher capacity to ensure all of the needs of our Gifted Learners are being met and their learning extended. This is a challenge our school is looking forward to achieving to enrich our students learning in all areas. We are developing Inquiry Base Learning Programs to ensure students reach their full potential through differentiation with a focus on Gifted Learners.

Mary-Jean Cooper – St Mary’s Primary School Scone

St Mary’s, Scone, has been eagerly awaiting the opportunity to become a Gifted Education Lead School.

As a member of the St Mary’s teaching and leadership teams, I have been involved with many of the gifted initiatives in which we have been involved over the last 20 years. I have always had an interest in gifted education. Indeed, my very first day of teaching involved a regional professional development day on differentiation using Bloom’s Taxonomy. From this lucky start, I have championed the right of gifted students to receive the education their capabilities deserve whilst also supporting their right to be children at the same time.

In recent years, I have worked with and led a learning support team focused on gifted students where we developed our own intervention, RISE (Reasoned Intervention for Student Enrichment). With my appointment to the GEM position for 2021, I look forward to working collaboratively with our region, gifted education network and CSO to support our teachers, students and families within a broader community of gifted learners.

I have a BA, MTeach (Hons), and have completed the Mini-Certificate of Gifted Education along with other short courses in Gifted Education and differentiation. I have worked with AMSI and Anita Chinn to improve the differentiated teaching of Mathematics and trained with the Academy of Science Primary Connection program. Best of all, I am blessed to have a child working in the Virtual Academy, who enables me to merge my academic knowledge with the lived experience of parenting and supporting a gifted young person.

 

Louise Stokes - St Joseph's High School, Aberdeen

St Joseph’s High School, Aberdeen became a Gifted Education Lead (GEL) School late 2019 and I was appointed as the Gifted Education Mentor (GEM) in February 2020. I am delighted to have the opportunity to work with staff to strengthen their skills in helping students aim for excellence and develop their gifts into talents. Already I have witnessed the benefits of identifying the gifts of students by observing two of our Year 7s blossom under the tutorage of the Virtual Academy. It is thrilling to see the smiles on their faces as they communicate with like-minded peers to solve complex problems. I have been a part of the St Joseph’s Aberdeen family since 2013, first in the capacity of team-teaching Drama, then as the English as an Additional Language/Dialect teacher.