Teach First NZ is independently governed and run by a Board of Trustees and staff team. We work closely with our partner university staff, and with principals and teachers in schools.
Deborah George (Chair)
Deborah George is Chair of Teach First NZ. Deborah first learnt of Teach First while on sabbatical in Britain, and is one of the founders of Teach First NZ. Deborah started her career as a teacher after graduating from the University of Canterbury and Christchurch Teachers College. She has spent the past thirty years working in education in a variety of roles across the commercial, government and not-for-profit sectors. Deborah has owned businesses in Hong Kong and New Zealand, worked for the New Zealand and Australian governments, and was one of a team of three to establish and run the Duffy “Books in Homes” programme nationwide. Currently the Director of Enrolment and External Relations at Auckland Grammar School, Deborah has also spent five years on the School Board of Trustees and three years as Director of Development. More recently she has been working alongside the United Māori Mission to establish a boarding hostel within the school zone for Māori boys from throughout New Zealand. Deborah believes the Teach First programme is the most meaningful initiative she has seen to effect long-term social change through education.
Carol Hirschfeld is of Ngāti Porou descent and is currently Head of Programming for Māori Television. Carol delivered the nation's nightly news on TV3, with co-anchor John Campbell from 1998–2005. Over her time delivering the 6pm news, she became one of New Zealand's most admired and respected news presenters. Carol went on to be a senior producer and specialist interviewer for “Campbell Live”, continuing her successful on-air relationship with John Campbell. Carol has worked in journalism for over twenty years and is an accomplished editor, producer and reporter. Before joining TV3, Carol spent twelve years with TVNZ – working as a producer for the “Holmes” show and presenting shows such as "Fair Go", “Assignment”, “Frontline” and "Crimewatch". Carol brings to Teach First NZ a strong desire to see Māori children succeed as Māori, and a passion for all children in Aotearoa New Zealand to reach their full educational potential.
Alistair Nicholson returned to New Zealand with his family in 2007 after nearly twenty years abroad working in financial markets. During his time abroad, Alistair was Founding Partner and Chief Investment Officer of Singapore-based equity hedge fund Alcor Investment Management, and Managing Director and Head of Trading for an American investment bank in Hong Kong. In addition, he has also been Chief Executive for Ord Minnett in New Zealand. Alistair began his working career as a teacher at Kapiti College, and for four years was a junior lecturer at Massey University. He also spent six years as Visiting Fellow in the Applied Finance Centre at Macquarie University, Sydney. Alistair is currently Chair of the Board of Trustees at Wakatipu High School where his two children attend. In this position he is often exposed to teacher recruitment efforts, and is excited by the opportunity that Teach First NZ presents to schools serving lower decile communities.
John Sproat is a corporate finance lawyer at Chapman Tripp in Wellington and has been a partner there for over 20 years. He grew up in Masterton and attended Makora College, before studying at the University of Canterbury. He has always held a keen interest in improvements to education generally, and Māori education in particular. In the early 1990s, he was closely involved in the establishment of Wellington’s first kura kaupapa Māori, Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Ngā Mokopuna, and following the establishment of the kura he was on the Board of Trustees for 12 years as Treasurer. In the early 2000s John was also involved with an initiative among the larger Wellington law firms to provide mentoring opportunities to Year 12 and 13 secondary students, particularly in low-decile schools. In Teach First NZ, he sees significant opportunities for private sector employers to become involved with initiatives to improve the provision of education in hard-to-staff and lower decile schools while, at the same time, developing and improving the skills of their prospective future employees.
Bernardine Vester was the Chief Executive of COMET, a charitable trust of Auckland Council, from January 2000 to September 2011. Her achievements in the role included the development of an intergenerational family learning model that meets international best practice. The Trust was awarded Education Trust of the Year in 2004. Bernardine was named New Zealand’s 2002 Eisenhower Fellow, and in 2006 was awarded the Victoria University of Wellington Holmes Prize in Public Policy for her research on the relationship between local government and education. Before coming to Auckland in 1996, Bernardine worked as a secondary school teacher and assistant principal in the Waikato and Hawkes Bay regions. Her governance experience includes leading the establishment board of the Mission Heights schools in Flat Bush, and serving on a number of local community trusts, school and church organisations. She was Junior Vice-President of the secondary teachers’ union PPTA for three years and represented the Executive on the Secondary Principals’ Council during that time.
Shay Wright is Head of Māori Development at The ICEHOUSE business growth centre. Shay is of Pākehā and Māori descent, and was brought up in the rohe of Te Rarawa, near Kaitaia, in the rural Far North. Fresh from studying Law and Commerce at The University of Auckland, Shay has networks into Māori student organisations, represented the University at several leadership conferences, and was also a student advisor to the US Ambassador. Shay has been a MATES mentor, and brings a strong youth perspective to Teach First NZ. His extended family are predominantly teachers, fostering his enthusiasm for inspiring youth to be excited about education. Shay was Head Boy of Kaitaia College (a decile two school with a 67 per cent Māori roll), which gave him a deeper understanding of school governance and leadership, and allowed him to push for improved access to opportunities for the students he represented. Shay is especially excited about Teach First NZ because it provides inspiring role models to young students to encourage them to break the mould and think big.
Advisors to the Board
Associate Professor Graeme Aitken
Associate Professor Graeme Aitken is an Advisor to the Board of Teach First NZ. Graeme is the Dean of Education at The University of Auckland and has held that position since October 2008. Prior to being appointed Dean he held positions in the University as Director of Secondary Teacher Education, Director of The University of Auckland Principals Centre, Co-Head School of Education, and, since the amalgamation with the Auckland College of Education, as Associate Dean (Academic) and Deputy Dean in the Faculty Education. Graeme holds the degrees of BA and MA(Hons) in Geography and a doctorate in Education (EdD). He was appointed to the University in 1996 as inaugural Director of Teacher Education after fourteen years as a secondary teacher and four years as a teacher educator. In 2001 he was awarded a Distinguished Teaching Award for his contribution to the establishment of the secondary teacher education programme at the University. Graeme believes the Faculty of Education's partnership with Teach First NZ represents another dimension of the Faculty's longstanding commitment to reducing educational disparities.
Soana Pamaka is is an Advisor to the Board of Teach First NZ. Soana is Principal of Tamaki College, a decile one school located in Glen Innes, Auckland. Soana was educated at Tonga High School and Kaipara College before completing a Bachelor of Arts at The University of Auckland and her teacher education at the then Auckland College of Education. Soana took up an appointment teaching English at Tamaki College in 1991, going on to serve as a Whānau Leader, Head of Department History, and Acting Assistant Principal. In 1998 she was appointed Deputy Principal, a role she undertook until her appointment as Principal in 2006. Soana was the first Tongan principal of a secondary school in New Zealand. Under her tenure as Principal both roll numbers and the academic success of students has steadily increased. As a learning leader Soana readily embraces educational initiatives that will provide opportunities for students to experience further success. Excited by the possibilities that Teach First NZ brings to education in both the short- and long-term, Soana looks forward to being a part of its development. Beyond the college gates Soana has served as a Trustee of the ASB Community Trust, and is a highly respected leader within her local community.
Shaun Sutton (Chief Executive)
Shaun Sutton is Chief Executive at Teach First NZ. Before returning to his hometown of Auckland to begin the process of establishing Teach First NZ, Shaun was a Teach First participant at a secondary school in west London. There he saw firsthand the potential of his students, juxtaposed against the realities of educational inequality. During his time teaching Shaun achieved a one hundred per cent pass rate for his GCSE-level classes, introduced a successful debating club, and led the school’s first ever involvement in the 'Bridges to Africa' fundraising walk. Before his time with Teach First in the UK, he worked for two years in London as a Business Analyst, specialising in the telecoms and media markets while on a graduate programme. Shaun completed his undergraduate degree on scholarship in Japan and South Korea, has a MA degree from the University of Leeds, and has also completed a Postgraduate Certificate in Leadership at the Institute of Education in London. He has volunteered in the third sector for Tearfund, an NGO that posted him to Rwanda for three months, and has also completed an internship at Teach For All, the global organisation that helps share best practice across similar 'Teach First' programmes around the world. Shaun is a mad rugby fan and is currently trying to learn to play golf.
Elin Morris (Recruitment Director – Maternity Cover)
Elin Morris is Recruitment Director at Teach First NZ (Maternity Cover for Seren). Motivated and moved by first-hand experience as a Science teacher in London with Teach First in the UK, Elin passionately believes in the transformational power of inspirational teachers and leaders in schools. For the last five years, Elin has held a variety of recruitment roles at Teach First in the UK - now the largest recruiter of graduates in the United Kingdom. Elin led the Graduate Recruitment Development team, with responsibility for driving future growth and launched a number of new initiatives, including the delivery of an award winning ‘Insight’ work experience programme. Elin also recently spearheaded an organisational-wide diversity project and was pleased to see Teach First in the UK recognised for its commitment to increasing the diversity of teachers. Elin enjoys travel and is motivated to address educational inequity in different cultures and contexts. Elin has volunteered with ‘Promoting Equality in African Schools’ (PEAS) in Uganda and completed a secondment supporting the training of new teachers in Mumbai and Pune with Teach For India. Elin is inspired to see the next generation of leaders standing up and committing to addressing educational disadvantage and, through her role in recruitment at Teach First NZ, is excited to contribute to New Zealand’s efforts to tackle this crippling social injustice.
Seren Wilson (Recruitment Director)
Seren Wilson is Recruitment Director at Teach First NZ. Seren holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from The University of Auckland. She began her Human Resources career in New Zealand at Firth Industries (Fletcher Building) and Starship Children's Hospital, before travelling to the United Kingdom where she joined Concert Communications (BT and AT&T) in a dedicated Graduate Programme Development role. Seren then went on to join the L'Oreal Group where she has spent the last 10 years of her career, working in the United Kingdom and Australia in Generalist HR Management, Graduate Development and Specialist Talent Acquisition and Development roles. Seren has significant experience setting up and managing graduate programmes, which have received awards from the AGR (Association of Graduate Recruiters - UK) and the AAGE (Australian Association of Graduate Employers). Seren believes Teach First NZ is the most exciting initiative to launch in the graduate market as it provides graduates with an opportunity to develop their leadership capabilities while being part of a proven programme to tackle educational inequality.
Vicki Kendall (Recruitment Manager)
Vicki Kendall joined Teach First NZ as Recruitment Manager in February 2013. Previous to this she worked at The University of Auckland across a number of roles, first in Human Resources and Recruitment, then most recently in the Schools Partnership Office where she worked closely with secondary school students across the country. The experience of visiting a wide range of schools in this role and seeing first-hand the disparity in academic achievement and opportunity both between and within them, really brought home to Vicki the realities of educational inequality in New Zealand. Vicki is a strong believer in the importance of great educational opportunities being accessible to all New Zealanders; not just for the immediate benefits to students and their families but for the long term prosperity of New Zealand as a whole. She is thrilled to see two participants in Teach First NZ's inaugural 2013 cohort have taken up opportunities at Papatoetoe High School where she and her two sisters previously studied, and is excited to be part of an organisation whose values so closely align with her own. Vicki holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and European Studies from The University of Auckland.
Margaret Bendall (Partnership Director)
Margaret Bendall is working on secondment from The University of Auckland as Partnership Director at Teach First NZ. After graduating from the University of Otago and the Christchurch College of Education, Margaret taught secondary level English for over fifteen years in a range of schools, before becoming a specialist in standards-based assessment and working for the Ministry of Education as lead developer of the then national curriculum in English. Margaret was subsequently appointed Deputy Principal of Epsom Girls Grammar School, a large secondary school in Auckland, and then Principal eighteen months later – a position she held for a period of eight years. More recently, Margaret has been working at The University of Auckland in the field of school and educational leadership, and has mentored a number of successful principals. At the same time, she has been significantly involved in parts of the design and in the ongoing implementation of the current New Zealand Curriculum. Margaret has served as a Board Member on the New Zealand Qualifications Authority and the Spirit of Adventure Trust, and is currently a Director at Learning Media Ltd and Trustee of the Cognition Education Trust. Margaret is also a Justice of the Peace, and has been awarded the title Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to education. Through Teach First NZ, Margaret continues a career-long interest in how schools and teachers can continuously improve what they do to maximise the potential of every learner.
Mike Hughes (Associate Partnership Director)
Mike Hughes is Associate Partnership Director at Teach First NZ. After graduating with a Master of Arts in literature and film, Mike qualified as an English and Media Studies teacher with a Diploma in Teaching (Secondary) from The University of Auckland. He has taught for over a decade in Auckland schools and has been a Dean and a Head of Faculty, before becoming Deputy Principal at Pakuranga College. Mike completed his Masters of Educational Management in 2009 (University of Auckland), and through these studies became increasingly interested in Assessment for Learning and how its effective use in the classroom could have a real impact on student engagement and achievement. Mike has also experienced some success as a film-maker. His country of birth, South Africa, provided the inspiration behind his recent debut feature-length documentary, "Me, You, Mankosi", which was in the official selection at the Durban International Film Festival, 2012. Teach First NZ’s focus on the development of high calibre participants into reflective teachers and leaders in education in order to improve student outcomes appeals strongly to Mike’s sense of educational purpose. He is particularly excited by the alternative pathway into teaching that Teach First NZ provides for highly capable and motivated individuals.
Kendall Ker (Team Administrator and Campus Marketing Manager)
Kendall Ker joined Teach First NZ as both Team Administrator and Campus Marketing Manager in February 2013. She is currently completing the final semester of her degree at Auckland University of Technology, and her work experience at Teach First NZ will be contributing to her final paper. Kendall will be graduating in August 2013 with a Conjoint Bachelor of Business (HR and Employment Relations) and Bachelor of Arts (Social Sciences) Degree. Teach First NZ’s vision – that all children in Aotearoa New Zealand achieve their full educational potential, regardless of socioeconomic background – is what inspired Kendall to begin working for the organisation. She passionately believes that where you come from should not be a determinant of where or how far you go in life; particularly in regard to post-secondary educational achievement. Given this, Kendall is excited to see the positive long term impact that Teach First NZ’s programme will have within secondary schools that serve lower decile communities.
Dr Ngaire Hoben (Head of Secondary Teacher Education Programmes, The University of Auckland)
Dr Ngaire Hoben is Senior Lecturer and Head of Secondary Teacher Education Programmes at The University of Auckland. Ngaire taught secondary school English and Media Studies for many years, before becoming involved in initial teacher education. Ngaire has a deep interest in the relationship between schools and universities, especially in regard to school-based teaching practice. She is currently engaged in a project with ten secondary schools which focuses on supporting mentor teachers as they work with pre-service teachers. To Ngaire, working in initial teacher education combines all the elements of the perfect job: teaching subjects she loves, working with people who are excited about teaching and learning, and researching subjects of personal interest. Ngaire has spent time investigating the Teach First model in the UK and the Teach For Australia programme, and is excited about working to develop the curriculum of a similar programme for the New Zealand context.
Edna Novak (Partner Engagement Director – New Zealand, Teach For All)
Edna Novak is the staff of Teach For All, as Director of Partner Engagement working with Teach First NZ. In this role, Edna serves as a consultant to the Teach First NZ team and as a liaison between Teach First NZ and the Teach For All global network. Prior to joining Teach For All, Edna was Executive Director at Teach For America – Connecticut for nearly four years, overseeing Teach For America’s programmatic and development work in Connecticut as well as its state accreditation as a teacher preparation program. Under Edna’s direction, Teach For America – Connecticut grew from just over 200 to nearly 600 participants and alumni, alongside continuous increases in student achievement, participant satisfaction and retention outcomes. Edna began her career as a Teach For America participant in Greater New Orleans, where she taught third grade and middle school mathematics, coached the girls athletics team, and led her students to improve by an average of 2 grade levels in mathematics and 1.5 in reading. After teaching, Edna joined Teach For America’s staff as a Recruitment Director, achieving 35% growth in applications across the 14 universities where she recruited over her two years in the role. Edna holds an MBA from Yale School of Management and a BA from Wellesley College. Edna studied in New Zealand during her final year at Wellesley, vowing to one day return for a longer stay, and is thrilled to now have the opportunity to be back in New Zealand with Teach For All and Teach First NZ.