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Expert Facilitators

Simon Dewar

Director of Partnerships –
School Culture Partnerships

Since joining Real Schools, Simon’s impact on school improvement and cultural change has been significant.

He has walked alongside a considerable number of diverse school communities and helped them achieve their goals and make their ambitions a reality. His passion and expertise in implementing Restorative Practices, developing the capabilities of middle leaders and building a strong relational culture is profound.

Prior to being part of the Real Schools family, Simon spent over 20 years working in a wide variety of schools across Western Metropolitan Melbourne and in several regional towns across South-West Victoria.

In all of these schools, Simon has undertaken a variety of different leadership roles, with the most significant being the 11 years he spent as the Principal of a secondary college in a country town. At the time of his appointment as Principal, Simon led the significant task of merging the two local schools to form one. For the next 10 years, he worked hard to shape the school’s culture, build strong relationships with the entire community and improve the outcomes of all students.

Simon has genuinely ‘been there’ and can empathise with the challenges facing educators and principals across Australia. He also knows the reward and feeling of getting it right.

Simon brings a strong educational background, a sound understanding of human behaviour, genuine care for young people and knowledge of the school setting to the Real Schools Team. He will support your school with the tools and strategies to help them uncover their full potential.

Simon is an extremely passionate, inspiring and dynamic person who partners with schools to empower cultural change and energise their entire school community.

Cassie Kitani

Expert Facilitator –
School Culture Partnerships

Cassie has spent 32 years teaching and leading internationally and across the breadth of Australia’s schools.

Since joining Real Schools Cassie has worked with Primary and Secondary Government, Catholic, Independent, Jewish, Islamic and Lutheran schools across Australia to help each school community realise the cultural aspirations they have for their communities. She understands the complex nature of schools, the difference in context and culture at each location and, works with your team to achieve your aspirations for your community.

A Principal of high acclaim, and educator of over 30 years, Cassie is a recognised leader within International Schools and the International Baccalaureate Organisation, a skilled PYP unit developer, a transformer of teaching and learning, an expert in inquiry pedagogy and a fervent advocate for collaborative teams in schools.

Cassie’s experience also includes the thorough implementation of Restorative Practices in schools, driving transitions from punitive models, enhancing community connection and speaking eloquently to the embedding of positive School Cultures. Cassie meets each learner at their point of need and walks alongside encouraging small changes that lead to little wins, little wins – the gateway to cultural transformation.

But Cassie doesn’t just talk a thoroughly impressive talk when it comes to great school experiences for all stakeholders. She works directly with teachers and students, tackles the tough topics and leaps the big hurdles.

Cassie is passionate about working with leaders to draw on their expertise and to inspire and connect with teachers. She believes deeply that building restorative and connected communities can be a powerful force for transforming School Cultures… and lives.

Sheila Bollard

Expert Facilitator –
School Culture Partnerships

Sheila has a deep belief that education can empower individuals to develop a love of lifelong learning which enriches the lives of students, not just in the immediate future but for generations to come.

Her work has been recognised through a Primary Principals’ Association leadership fellowship, which included an overseas study tour, and the Sydney South Network award for cultural and pedagogical change.

Known to use a minds-on approach, her foundation for planning is always based on peer-reviewed, evidence-based research. Sheila has partnered with the University of Technology Sydney and Sydney University in leading her schools and has based success on evaluating data.

Sheila is passionate about supporting others, managing cultural change, and inspiring school leaders and teachers. She has a proven track record, that regardless of school history or complexity, every student, teacher and school can thrive and succeed.

Kirsty Lush

Expert Facilitator –
School Culture Partnerships

Kirsty is a passionate educator who has spent almost twenty years in field, as a teacher, coach, school principal and university tutor.

Most recently she has worked to support leadership teams and teachers across 25 schools drive improvement while engaging in agile leadership and responsive implementation strategies.

Kirsty knows first- hand the power the school environment and, most importantly, the people in it can have on transforming the lives its students and their families. As a principal for seven years, she worked with all stakeholders to transform the school culture, embed Restorative Practices and connect the school authentically within the community.

As a mentor for new and established school principals, Kirsty has proven success in supporting leaders through various change processes and navigating a range of complex issues that arise in schools.

Kirsty, a past finalist for Principal of the Year in the SA Education Awards, is energised when working with educator teams and loves to see them grow in their expertise and understanding. Working as a critical friend with schools from all sectors is a privilege, and as a life- long learner, Kirsty really enjoys the opportunity to be curious with and learn from others.

Kirsty believes the purpose of schools is to ensure all students flourish and are successful in contributing to the world around them, and she thrives on collaborating with others to achieve this goal.

Candice Brown

Expert Facilitator –
School Culture Partnerships

Candice has worked for more than 25 years as a teacher, principal, coach, consultant and university lecturer. She believes a positive school culture will impact student and staff achievements positively.

She considers a hands on approach to be vital and leads with a proactive, visible stance. Providing an environment where everyone belongs and is comfortable to take risks in teaching and learning is key to her success as a school leader.

Most recently she has worked as principal in complex rural environments where she focuses on transforming lives and building identity. She works with stakeholders across the school community to enhance the teaching and learning environment using restorative practices and inclusive approaches. Connection with the local community is really important to her.

Candice believes in providing leadership opportunities and creates an environment where students, teachers and school leaders grow and excel. Her passion for professional learning resulted in her selection to a professional learning assessment panel for DOE where PL providers and programs were assessed against the AITSL standards. She believes that with the right tools and support everyone can succeed.

Brenda Quayle

Expert Facilitator –
School Culture Partnerships

Driven by a deep moral purpose and a belief that education is an absolute right for every single young person, Brenda is a committed educator who has served a variety of school communities across a career spanning almost 30 years.

Her deep commitment to equity and excellence has seen her lead schools across western Sydney, working with communities to create learning environments that place students at the centre of their educational journey.

Experienced at all levels of school leadership, Brenda has previously held executive positions with the NSW Deputy Principals Association and ACEL NSW. She has collaborated with colleagues on reference groups for the NSW Secondary Principal’s Council, NOII NSW (Network of Innovation and Inquiry) and the Prevention Education Research Unit (WS Health).

She has a long history of designing and facilitating professional learning opportunities, influencing the development of staff capacity and inspiring colleagues across all stages of their career.

Her approach to collaborative professional practice has seen significant shifts in school culture leading to improved relational strategies and high impact professional learning that directly enhances student engagement and learning outcomes. Her deep belief in restorative practices has enabled her to deeply immerse her school communities in the development of a culture of collective responsibility to support all students in all contexts.

Her commitment to systems leadership has seen her awarded an ACEL NSW Fellowship, recognising her pedigree in designing cultural shifts and change models that support colleagues, parents and young people to dive deeply into problems of practice and to work through the various complexities that fill a school day. She believes that everyone can learn and is committed to supporting school communities to create positive cultures that reflect deep collaboration and support the creation of powerful learning communities.

Marion Walsh-Gay

Expert Facilitator –
School Culture Partnerships

For nearly two decades, as a teacher, mentor and principal Marion has led diverse teams across schools in Metropolitan Sydney. She understands and enjoys the complexity of working in organisations that prioritise people.

Her guidance and mentorship has empowered colleagues to become lifelong learners and agents of change within their own classrooms and schools.

By prioritising and establishing relationships as the foundation of learning, Marion creates a culture where individuals feel valued, connected, and motivated to learn and collaborate. Her approach not only enhances academic achievement but also nurtures essential life skills, empathy, and a sense of social responsibility.

Marion is passionate about working with leaders and educators to tap into their shared knowledge and collective wisdom. By fostering a culture of inquiry, she creates environments for educators to ask questions, challenge assumptions, and reflect on practice. She believes that by empowering educators and students to explore, question, and collaborate, learning environments are created where risk taking, innovation and the potential of each individual can thrive.

Marion believes that by fostering restorative and connected communities, schools can inspire learners to be their best for themselves, each other and the world.

Daniel Vella presenting to camera

Daniel Vella

Expert Facilitator –
School Culture Partnerships

Fast approaching 30 years as an educator, principal, and system leader Daniel has led school communities across Victoria.

With a strong commitment to learning and wellbeing, he connects to and understands the challenges and opportunities that come with working with school communities. His kindness, growth mindset, mentoring and leadership has fostered the development of connected school communities, caring students, and committed teachers.

Ensuring connectedness and relationships are central to the to maximising learning, Daniel builds cultures that welcome feedback, value collaboration and strives for all members to feel appreciated. His beliefs and methodology as a leader, has successfully linked the need for academic achievement and cultivating dispositions that support the development of quality people.

Daniel is committed to working alongside other school leaders and school communities to harness their energy, shared expertise, and experiences. He believes that by nurturing a climate that encourages students and educators to problem solve, welcome feedback, reflect and collaborate, school communities can flourish. He trusts that by being restorative and cultivating communities that are connected, learners and educators can impact their own success and contribute to the success of others around them.

Trish Coelho

Expert Facilitator –
School Culture Partnerships
Trish Coelho looking at camera

Trish has spent her whole career as a teacher, principal, and system leader, bringing quality education to students living in regional and rural NSW.

As the lead learner of many communities, she has a successful record in building the cultural capacity of all. She believes communities who establish a deep sense of shared purpose, ensure empowerment and shared ownership are successful in developing a healthy school culture.

Her personal philosophy is that everyone leads and it is our responsibility to build the capacity of all stakeholders to go and be where they never thought they could. Her ability to coach and mentor has enabled schools to thrive, set new directions and challenge the status quo, within an environment of positive risk taking. She is compassionate to the demands placed upon leaders and is a creative thinker in her problem-solving approach. As a Nationally Credited LEAD teacher, with a commitment to high performance, Trish works through leveraging the strengths of the professional capital of any organisation. As a long-standing member of NESA’s Moderating and Consistency Committee, her work has ensured the highest of standards within schools and the development of teachers within NSW.

Trish gains most satisfaction when working within the school environment alongside staff and students, in bringing out the best of each community. This success is achieved by leading and supporting schools to embed a strong restorative ethos and authentic relational culture. Currently she is leading within a system of schools employing her expertise in coaching and leadership in advancing teacher quality to improve student wellbeing and achievement outcomes.

Ryan Martin standing in front of graffitied wall

Ryan Martin

Expert Facilitator –
School Culture Partnerships

Over a career in education spanning 25 years, Ryan has worked in a diverse range of educational settings across the country. He has led in public, private, community and vocational school environments.

Not afraid to roll up his sleeves, the schools Ryan has turned his attention to, have required considerable courage and a determined focus on how important relationships become when the challenges are enormous and rewards often seem elusive, but always worth chasing.

Ryan has been able to turn schools around with his proven track record in building restorative school cultures, data analysis, staff wellbeing, leadership development and early career mentoring.  His determined approach to improving teacher practice through innovation and student feedback has resulted in significantly altering the trajectory of students from highly complex and disadvantaged backgrounds.

He has travelled nationally and internationally investigating educational systems and presented key note presentations around topics such as staff wellbeing, improving school cultures and early career teacher mentoring.

Ryan has a deep desire to see schools set the foundations for cultures that value strong sustainable relationships that permeate every corner of the school from the grounds keeper to the leadership team.  In essence, the idea that schools in metropolitan, regional or remote locations can ‘punch above their weight’ as connected, committed and caring schools that are fun places to be a part of, drives Ryan’s career.

Jemma Rust

Expert Facilitator –
School Culture Partnerships
Jemma Rust standing outside

Jemma is an experienced educational leader whose career spans 20 years as teacher, teacher -leader and principal across the Darwin and Palmerston regions.

Most recently, Jemma’s appointment as principal in a diverse NT school has seen her work with families, staff, students and external stakeholders in strong partnership to support Territory kids to engage, grow and achieve from birth to year 6. Under her leadership, her school was known for their strong sense of community. Building and sustaining a positive culture where everyone belongs is Jemma’s superpower.

Jemma knows that the classroom is where the magic happens. She has strength in inquiry, explicit teaching and play based pedagogies. Her passion for teaching and learning is activated through a hands-on leadership approach. As a learning leader, she is often found in the classroom, working alongside teachers and support staff to improve practice and student outcomes at the grass roots. Every decision as principal is made with her students at the centre and relationships at the heart. Knowing each child’s story is important to Jemma in being part of their educational journey and meeting each child where they are at. She values deeply the active role students play in their education pathway, prioritising student agency as a powerful tool in building future changemakers.

Jemma became a teacher to make a difference. Accessing remote learning opportunities herself as a student, her ongoing commitment as a leader to improve equity in education for every student regardless of their geographical location or socio-economic status is evident in her work. She is a strong collaborator and is dedicated to extending reach beyond a single school, doing the right work to benefit every child. As part of the NT education system, Jemma has collaboratively mentored and coached aspiring and skilled school leaders, successfully building capacity in evidenced based teaching, learning and leadership towards systemic improvement. She is an experienced HALT and has worked alongside teachers to attain the qualification as a trained assessor with AITSL. Throughout her career, Jemma has been an active member across many educational associations, recognised for her impact on a national stage with a PTANT award. Jemma is an avid researcher, sourcing evidenced based and research aligned practices that work towards bettering wellbeing and intellectual outcomes.
Jemma believes that working restoratively is a game changer that positively impacts school culture and sets the scene for a thriving learning community.