The MSCA Board


Cathy France (Chair)

Principal, The Hills Montessori School, SA

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.


Gay Wales (Deputy Chair)

Principal, Melbourne Montessori School, VIC

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.


David Anderson (Finance)

Business Manager of Southern Montessori School, SA

David has been the Business Manager at Southern Montessori for the past 8 years. Prior to this role he was a Partner at National Australia Bank for 25 years. He brings with him experience in financial forecasting and Commercial Lending. David is a member of ASBA and is an Associate with the Institute of Public Accountants, since 16th Feb 1998. Family life is very important to David. He and his wife have 7 children and 8 grandchildren between them! Outside of family gatherings, David enjoys travel and motor sport.


Yan Wu (Secretary)

Owner of Headland Montessori Child Care Centres, NSW & VIC

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

Principal, Montessori East School, NSW

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, WA

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

Principal, Barrenjoey Montessori School, NSW

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.

Rachael Stevens

Rachael Stevens

National Director of the Montessori Institute

Rachael trained as a Montessori teacher in London 25 years ago and has been a passionate Montessorian ever since. Her first teaching role was with Dr Nicky Chisnall at her school in Wellington, New Zealand. Since then, she has taught across cycles 1-3, has tutored and lectured at university and taught women in prison, all the while with a Montessori philosophy. Rachael is the National Director with the Montessori Institute (formerly known as MWEI) and still teaches on a regular basis. Ensuring the sustainability of Montessori and succession of trained teachers in Australia is at the forefront of her work. Rachael is mum to 3 children and she loves cooking, hiking and yoga.


Janis Coffey

Principal, Plenty Valley International Montessori School, VIC

Prior to her appointment at PVIMS, Janis spent 10 years in various leadership roles in independent schools, including the Head of Middle School (Year 5 -9) at Southern Cross Grammar and Head of Teaching & Learning at Geelong Grammar’s Toorak Campus. 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; working as the Associate Director at the Institute of Positive Education and 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 10yr old daughter and enjoys writing, cooking, yoga, and anything to do with the arts!


Rachel Walker

Owner of Southbank Montessori Child Care Centres, WA

Rachel was born in England and emigrated to Australia in 1993. Previously she had studied accounting at Portsmouth University before being admitted to the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales. After arriving in Australia Rachel worked as an accountant in an accounting firm up to the level of junior partner before resigning and moving to Western Australia in 2004. Rachel then started Southbank Montessori which was the first Montessori child care centre in Perth. With approximately 170 children a week and 27 staff, Rachel’s centres are a similar size to many Montessori schools. Rachel also serves on the board of the Montessori Institute (MWEI) who provide Montessori training in most states.

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