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The MSCA Board

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Janis Coffey (Chair)

Principal, North-Eastern Montessori School
Victoria

Janis Coffey

Janis has been the Principal of North-Eastern Montessori School since 2019. She has over 10 years’ experience in various leadership roles in independent schools, including being Head of Middle School, Head of Teaching & Learning and Associate Director of Geelong Grammar’s Institute of Positive Education.  Janis is also a certified Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR) facilitator and has spent a large part of her career promoting mental health for young people, serving on the Board for the Positive Education Schools Association from 2016 – 2019. Originally from Philadelphia, Janis has lived in Australia for 17 years. She has a 12yr old daughter and enjoys writing, cooking, yoga, and anything to do with the arts!

Gay Wales (Deputy Chair)

Former Principal, Melbourne Montessori School
Victoria

Gay Wales

Gay has been the Principal of Melbourne Montessori School for the last 8 years. During this time she has led the school through several achievements; adding the senior school, gaining IB Authorisation, and receiving one of only seven Innovative Schools Awards for Victorian Schools in 2019. Previously, Gay spent 12 years at Christ Church Grammar School, transforming the curriculum into inquiry-based, concept learning. With an additional 13 years of prior experience in the business world, Gay has the ability to work strategically and bring real-world learning to each child.

 

Helen Dunn (Finance)

Senior Manager in National Partner Services at Deloitte

Helen Dunn

Helen is an Irish Chartered accountant and has spent 20 + years working at a senior level in Financial Services and managing finance teams.  Born in Dublin, Ireland, Helen emigrated to Australia in 1997. Having worked at IAG, AMP and Westpac, Helen is currently a Senior Manager in National Partner Services at Deloitte. 

In her spare time, Helen works with her husband, Eric supporting local businesses make an impact with their online presence, building and renovating websites. 

Helen is a passionate Montessori parent. Her daughter, Kate (12) has attended Montessori education since she was 8 months old. Currently a student in cycle 3 at Barrenjoey Montessori School, Kate is excited to be attending Northside Montessori School for her High School curriculum from 2024. Helen served on the BMS board as Treasurer for 6 years, a highlight of which was seeing the Building Expansion program install a new cycle 2 classroom “Mithra” debt free, completely funded by the school.  

Helen is delighted to be continuing her support of Montessori education through her new role as Finance Director at MSCA

Yan Wu

Owner of Headland Montessori Child Care Centres
New South Wales & Victoria

Yan Wu

Yan is the Founder and Managing Director of Headland Montessori Group, a company that develops and operates Montessori early childhood education services in Australia. Yan is passionate about growing the presence of authentic Montessori education in Australia and abroad.

Bill Conway (Secretary)

Former Principal, Montessori East School
New South Wales

Bill Conway

Bill Conway is the former principal of Montessori East (2007–2020). Prior to this he worked internationally as a teacher, principal and guidance counsellor. Bill is an international administrator trainer for Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) and assisted in the development of the course curriculum. He is currently the chair of the Programme Planning Committee overseeing the next AMI congress in Bangkok, Thailand.  Bill has four adult children and two granddaughters.

Vanessa Aikins

Principal, Rockingham Montessori School
Western Australia

Vanessa Aikins

Vanessa has been the Principal of Rockingham Montessori School for 10 years, spearheading their expansion to encompass a Montessori high school. In 2013 she travelled to the Hershey Montessori School in Ohio USA and took part in the AMI Orientation to Adolescent Studies program. Vanessa is committed to school leadership, social inclusion and collaboration across the Montessori community.

Fiona Campbell

Former Principal, Barrenjoey Montessori
New South Wales

Fiona Campbell

Fiona has been involved in Montessori education for more than 45 years, having first obtained her diploma from the Maria Montessori Training Organisation in London in 1974. Since then she has taught, consulted and headed up Montessori schools throughout Australia, currently leading as Principal of Barrenjoey Montessori in NSW.

Cathy France (Events Committee)

Principal, The Hills Montessori School
South Australia

Cathy France

Cathy worked in schools in Australia and the UK for 10 years prior to starting at The Hills Montessori School in 1994 as a Cycle 3 (9-12) teacher. In 2004 Cathy was appointed as Principal of The Hills Montessori School in the Adelaide Hills which caters for 0-16 year olds across two campuses.  Cathy is passionate about collegiate sharing, learning from others and finding ways for Montessori educators and professionals to come together to share ideals, ideas and practice.  She has initiated a number of national forums for Montessori educators and leaders to come together.  Cathy offers the MSCA Board her extensive experience in education, event management and professional development opportunities along with her interest in good governance practices at a Board level.

Renée Bilston

Director of Communications at Romanava
New South Wales

Renee Bilston

Renee is a passionate Montessori advocate and parent of two children who attended Montessori Early Childhood and Primary education. She is currently the Director of Communications at Romanava and has senior management experience in leading teams, managing digital operations, and supporting business objectives through marketing and communications. Renee has held director-level roles in multiple marketing industries, which gives her a unique understanding of the end-to-end strategy and implementation of strategic communications and change initiatives. We are grateful to have Renee on the MSCA board to share her experience and expertise in promoting MSCA and Montessori education.

Sylvia Arotin

Founder/Director of My Montessori and Guide & Grow
New South Wales

Sylvia Arotin

Sylvia has had over 10 years experience in Montessori teaching and is the founder and director of My Montessori (0-6 yrs) School in Sydney. Her passion for children’s learning and development, as well as supporting and educating parents, has been fundamental in developing her well-established Guide & Grow brand, which is the largest online Montessori support platform for parents in the world. Sylvia holds an International Montessori 0-3yrs diploma, 3-6 assistants certificate, International Communications degree and a Masters in Teaching specialising in early childhood (0-5 yrs) (Honours) from Macquarie University. Sylvia looks forward to continuing her global mission of spreading the Montessori way of life in the years to come.