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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.

  Rachael Moore - St Pius X High School, Adamstown

I have 10 years of experience as a classroom teacher and during this time, I have gained a Graduate Certificate in Gifted Education from the University of New England and a Master of Education Leadership from the Australian Catholic University. At St Pius X we’ve identified our high ability students so that we can identify what each student needs to see positive growth in individual learning outcomes. In 2018 we will offer professional development in differentiating in formative classroom tasks for our staff. Our aim at St Pius X is to provide quality learning opportunities for all students and give our gifted students more challenges in their learning.

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

I am very excited to be the Gifted Education Mentor at St Columba’s Adamstown in 2020. 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.


Jo Simes - St James' Primary School, Kotara South

As a GEM I’ve gaining deeper understanding of Gifted Education, finding new improvements in writing and a wider use of technology. From the beginning we’ve 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. Technology provides opportunities to trial different apps to engage learners and record their work, while writing provides opportunities to extend and challenge their thinking.

Joel Hartcher - St Therese's Primary School, New Lambton

As a GEM, I am committed to the belief that effective education involves catering for all aspects of a person. At St Therese's, I aim to help and support teachers in identifying our gifted learners. Once students have been identified, I work with executive and teachers alike to ensure that quality, differentiated learning and curriculum is delivered consistently and effectively across our school. This task has a far-reaching range including differentiated programs through to quality and targeted professional development for our staff. I also work collaboratively with other GEMs in my cluster and the wider primary group of GEMs. This design and approach ensures the best and expedient outcome for all.




Gary Pomplun - Holy Name Primary School, Forster

I’m excited to be the Gifted Education Mentor at Holy Name in 2018. Over the past two years, I’ve engaged in professional learning opportunities focusing on Gifted Education, completing the mini-certificate of Gifted Education and master class of Gifted Education. As the GEM, I will work closely alongside my colleagues and parents of students to identify and cater for gifted learners at Holy Name. I’ll work collaboratively with my colleagues to develop tiered curriculum programs to cater for gifted learners in a mixed ability primary classroom, that are based on current research and promote best practice.

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.




Carlia Collingwood - Holy Spirit Infants School, Abermain

I am the Gifted Education Mentor (GEM) of Holy Spirit Infants School, Abermain. I have been teaching for 10 years and have a Masters of Education from Charles Stuart University. Holy Spirit is very excited to begin our Gifted Education Lead School journey in 2019. This journey will support our mission of guiding our students to meet their full potential. In my role as GEM this year, I will work in collaboration with classroom teachers and parents to identify students whom present within the gifted range. Once identified, I will assist classroom teachers to plan for and implement effective curriculum differentiation within mixed-ability classrooms based on current educational research.

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. 


Sarah Elliot - All Saints College, St Peter's Campus, Maitland

I’ve worked in Catholic schools for over eight years as an English, HSIE and Studies of Religion teacher. During this time, I completed a Masters of Educational Management and Leadership at UNSW where I undertook a semester of study in educational leadership for gifted students. My role involves the identification of our gifted students, staff professional development and implementation of teaching strategies to cater for our students. Our focus for gifted education at All Saints College, St Peter’s Campus is to understand how we can change our teaching practice for the benefit of all students in our school and empower teachers in this process. The implementation process so far has been the identification of our students and understanding how to cater for these students’ learning needs.

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.


Catherine Wallace - St Joseph's Primary School, East Maitland

My role as the GEM at St Joseph’s East Maitland, is to demonstrate proactive, strategic management, which will provide support and guidance to staff in the implementation of personalised learning practices and a genuinely differentiated curriculum in addressing the needs of students. Our focus in 2018, will be to implement quality teaching and learning programs, which differentiate and allow students to achieve their potential. St Joseph’s recognises and values the uniqueness of each individual and wishes to embrace this exciting journey.




Bonnie Griffin - St Columban's Primary School, Mayfield

St Columban’s began their Gifted Education journey in 2017. This is my first year in the role of Gifted Education Mentor at St Columban’s, taking the reins from our previous GEM who is now our Principal. I have been a teacher for 31 years and have specialised in Special Education, English as a Second Language and Gifted Education as well as spending many years in the classroom in NSW, interstate and internationally. I gained a postgraduate Certificate of Gifted Education (UNSW) in 2012 while teaching in a Lighthouse school for Gifted Education, Far North Queensland. Understanding, identifying and meeting the diverse needs of all students in an environment that supports all aspects of the child’s growth is at the heart of our school’s professional philosophy. I am delighted to be working collaboratively with San Clemente Mayfield, Corpus Christi Waratah and St Michael’s Nelson Bay to develop and implement whole school practices that allow students to strive for and reach their potential in all areas.


Jodi Bosworth - Corpus Christi Primary School, Waratah

I’m very passionate about my role as a GEM at Corpus Christi, Waratah. As part of the Gifted Education Lead Schools, our school is working closely with our two cluster schools; St Columban’s Mayfield and San Clemente Mayfield to develop and implement learning for both staff and students that is challenging and engaging. 2017 has been a year full of professional learning opportunities in gifted education. Collating and analysis of data, trialling differentiated learning tasks with small groups and expanding our understanding of tiered learning programs to cater more thoroughly for gifted learners in a mixed ability primary classroom. In 2018, we look forward to using creative and critical thinking strategies and implementing engaging and challenging tiered learning for our students.

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

I am thoroughly enjoying my new role as Gifted Education Mentor at St Michael’s this year. 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. Experience in these roles has given me a greater understanding of gifted students across diverse cultural groups. I am currently studying a Graduate Certificate in Gifted Education at the University of New South Wales to extend my professional knowledge in this area. My focus this year is to assist and support teachers in developing and resourcing differentiated programs to ensure all students experience personal growth academically, socially and emotionally, whilst maintaining our school wide commitment to strong identification procedures and staff professional development.




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 grades 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

I am the Gifted Education Mentor (GEM) at Rosary Park Catholic School, Branxton. This is my eighth year of teaching, having taught in both the Maitland-Newcastle and the Broken Bay Dioceses. This will be Rosary Park’s third year as a Gifted Education Lead School (GEL) and my first as the GEM. 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. In the past two years, Rosary Park has focussed on embedding Critical and Creative Thinking routines in our units of work to cater for all students especially the children presenting in the gifted range. We will continue to implement these strategies this year and provide greater opportunities for those 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.




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.




Lauren McCafferty - St Paul's Catholic College, Booragul

I am a teacher of English and HSIE with ten years of experience in various educational contexts. I have a passion for Gifted Education and have engaged in extensive professional learning opportunities related to Gifted Education over the last five years. As the GEM at St. Paul’s Catholic College, my role involves working with a school-based committee to discuss teaching and learning matters such as programs, classroom practice and student progress. I look forward to providing ongoing support to colleagues and students in gifted education by differentiating teaching to meet the learning needs of gifted students. I will also work with students and staff from our cluster schools to ensure the provision of a stimulating and enriching learning environment that enables students to explore and build upon their gifts.


Anne Neems - St Joseph’s Primary School, Kilaben Bay

As a relatively new member of the Maitland-Newcastle Diocese, I am excited to be involved in gifted education as a Gifted Education Mentor. I have participated in a variety of initiatives to cater for gifted students in the past and am enthusiastic about the opportunity to create a sustainable pathway for the students at St Joseph’s. As part of a UoN initiative I worked with Dr Graham Chaffey to identify gifted underachievers. I also facilitated a program for gifted artists by linking a cluster of primary schools with the local high school. I am looking forward to working with our wonderful staff to maximise the potential of all students in our school.


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.


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.



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, we are in a unique position to work closely with the secondary GEM. 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, 7 years in NSW, Australia as Primary Coordinator for the last 3 years. I am nearing completion of a Masters 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 identifying gifted students at our school and ensuring their specific needs are being 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.


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 Masters 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.


Elke Lanzon – St Joseph’s Primary School, Denman

As the Gifted Education Mentor at St Joseph’s, I am privileged to work within the Upper Hunter cluster of Gifted Education Lead Schools. Providing educational leadership, I am thrilled to contribute to the shared expertise within the Maitland-Newcastle Diocese. Through our sustainable approach to gifted education, my aim is to bring gifted learners to the forefront of pedagogy. As their advocate, I strive to build the awareness and capacity of teachers through professional learning. By empowering teachers to contribute to a culture of best practice, we are inclusive and supportive of the academic, social and emotional needs of gifted students within our classrooms. I am extremely passionate about gifted education, particularly the identification of learners and the development of quality learning experiences that allow gifted learners to reach their full potential.