• Ally Gibbs – Principal, Mulberry Grove School

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    Ally is an experienced educator of over 30 years in schools. She has taught across all levels of primary and have been specialist Director of Gifted and Talented in a large Auckland School. She then specialised in Digital Communication and Technologies, first as a cluster lead and then director of ICT in a full Primary School. Currently Ally is the principal of 12 years at Mulberry Grove School, a small isolated school on Great Barrier Island. Students have been involved with online learning with VLN Primary since 2012. Ally has facilitated and taught online connecting with a small group of rural schools for 2 years. Ally believes, “The ability for our students to connect with others, to share learning and experience the world with few boundaries is significant. Kōtui Ako embodies our school vision by “Opening a World of Possibilities.” 

  • Brendan Carroll – Principal, Reporoa College

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    Brendan’s connection with the VLN began 17 years ago while working at Fiordland College with Otagonet and SILK. Brendan began with teaching Geography online and was the coordinator for distance learning. Then he moved onto Coromandel Area School (Coronet) and then Waihi College (Volcanics). Throughout this time and including now as Principal of Reporoa College Brendan has been a strong advocate for the VLN as being the way for smaller rural secondary schools to compete with their larger urban cousins for curriculum delivery. Brendan believes that the strength of the organisation was demonstrated recently with the COVID-19 pandemic response and has a definite future in the education landscape of New Zealand.

  • Dr Michael Barbour – Associate Professor, Touro University, California

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    Michael K. Barbour is an of Instructional Design for the College of Education and Health Sciences at Touro University, California in Vallejo, California, USA.

    He has been involved with K-12 distance, online, and blended learning for over two decades as a researcher, evaluator, teacher, course designer, and administrator. Michael’s research has focused on the effective design, delivery, and support of K-12 distance, online, and blended learning, particularly for students located in rural jurisdictions.This focus includes how regulation, governance, and policy can impact effective distance, online, and blended learning environments. Michael has a long history with the field in New Zealand, having written several national reports, serving on the governance board of the VLN Primary, conducting several research studies, and providing written and oral testimony to the Education and Science Parliamentary Committee.

  • Keryl Lee – Principal, Tapora School

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    Keryl is an experienced rural teaching Principal of 22 years, and a founding member of the Rural and Remote Schools Project. She was an early member of the VLN Primary, first at Makuri School, and now at Tapora School, where she is currently Principal. Keryl has a deep love for the rural area, the school communities and students. She enjoys exercising her dogs along the beach, cycling, paddleboarding and skiing when the opportunities arise along with visiting her daughters and granddaughters.

  • Michael Houghton – Principal, Dargaville High School

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    Michael has been a principal for over 13 years, and is currently principal at Dargaville High School. He has been involved with the VLN over the past 5 years, and most recently his board has taken over the responsibility of hosting one of the e-Principals, Amanda King. Michael believes that the principles of Kōtui Ako VLN align with the core values of his school. Building respectful relationships, collaborating and contributing to enable access to wide curriculum opportunities for their students, supports this kaupapa. Michael is positive about the changes he has seen the VLN undertake in the last 12 months and is keen to support the new strategic direction of Kōtui Ako. 

  • Mikaere October – Te Ao Māori Trustee, Principal of Trident High School

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    Kia ora,

    Ko Otawa tōku maunga

    Ko Rapa-rapa-a-hoe tōku awa

    Ko Hei tōku marae Ko Waitaha-a-Hei tōku iwi

    Ko Te Arawa tōku waka

    Nō Te Puke ahau

    Ko Mikaere October tōku ingoa

    Mikaere has worked in both a large secondary school and smaller community school, which gives him insight into the considerations of different settings. He is passionate about making education equitable and providing learning opportunities for ākonga through both curriculum and extra-curricular activities.

  • Rick Whalley – Principal, Lake Rerewhakaaitu School

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    Rick is an experienced educational leader and classroom teacher with more than two decades of experience as a principal in New Zealand schools. In his role as a Principal, Rick has led whole school change, staff development, strategic planning and review, developed collaborative networks with other schools and worked effectively with school communities. Rick was instrumental in the establishment of the VLN Primary School through developing early online learning connections between schools and in his persistent lobbying to the Ministry of Education over a period of many years to support this initiative. 

  • Ruth Anderson – Independent Chairperson

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    Ruth is an experienced executive leader and manager, in the Tertiary Education, Government and Not-for-Profit sectors. Skilled in Senior Management, Public Sector, and Stakeholder Engagement, Ruth has experience in working with governing bodies and successfully operated as leader and manager at strategic and operational levels.