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Our people

Jeff Johnstone

Director, Education Consultancy  

Jeff Johnstone joined Cognition in 2018 and leads our education consultancy team. Jeff brings with him a wide range of experiences and skills from working in diverse settings throughout the education sector. His educational leadership includes Education Director at the Asia New Zealand Foundation, Principal at Willow Park School in Auckland and Head of Primary at Yew Chung International School in Shanghai. Jeff has also worked as an education review officer, owned and operated a tutoring business and recruited teachers for positions both in New Zealand and the United Kingdom. Jeff is passionate about how quality education can make significant differences for students in schools.

Dr Shaun Hawthorne

Director, Programmes   

Shaun is a highly skilled and experienced educator with extensive experience in programme development, project management, and educational consultancy. Shaun has been part of teams working in NZ & Australia to support school & system level school effectiveness and change management programmes. These include supporting the design and implementation of system-wide Collaborative Impact Programmes in the Northern Territory of Australia and leading the delivery of Visible Learning Plus professional learning programmes in NZ. Shaun is also working as an Expert Partner for CoLs/Kahui Ako in Auckland and Gisborne. Prior to joining Cognition Shaun worked for over 20 years in the secondary schooling sector in New Zealand, most recently as a deputy principal in Auckland. Shaun’s areas of expertise cover effective practices in teaching writing; motivating adolescent learners; the cognitive science of learning and school effectiveness and leadership research.

Mary Sinclair

Global Adviser – Collaborative Impact, Innovation, Research and Evaluation  

Mary has had significant experience within New Zealand, Australia and Qatar, in system and school effectiveness, reform, and change management inclusive of strategic and operational leadership, and the planning, delivery, research/evaluation of instructional leadership and teaching professional learning programmes. During her time at Cognition she had supported Ministries of Education in Asia Pacific and the Middle East in system level reform initiatives. Mary has supported the Northern Territory Guiding Coalition during recent implementation of the Collaborative Impact Program: she has strong knowledge of the NT education context and the needs of Indigenous learners.

Dr Brian Hinchco

Manager, Projects  

Dr Brian Hinchco has extensive experience in school and system leadership and educational project management, within New Zealand and internationally. Brian has project managed the development of our PB4L contract, the Ministry’s NZC PLD programme for Auckland and Northland, and the Student Competency Framework project for the Abu Dhabi Education Council. These projects have built on his extensive experience in curriculum development and involved such skills as curriculum design and mapping, resource development, senior leadership development and the establishment of clusters. Brian is currently an Expert Partner for CoLs/Kāhui Ako and leads the Cognition Associate programme. Prior to joining Cognition Brian was an intermediate school principal, president of NZAIMS, and a sector representative on a number of Ministerial reference groups.

Jenna Crowley

Regional Manager, Tai Tokerau
Jenna is an experienced educator and leader of learning with a background in a wide range of Auckland and Northland contexts. As a professional learning and development consultant, Jenna has built extensive networks working within and across schools / Kāhui Ako to develop effective instructional leadership. Jenna is passionate about raising achievement for all learners through culturally responsive pedagogy and Relationships-based Learning. Her strengths are in facilitating teacher inquiry and collaboration, responsive curriculum design, and school self-review. Previously, Jenna has specialised in Learning Languages, the New Zealand Curriculum, and Mathematics and Statistics. Her Master of Education (with Distinction) research focused on the impact of teacher collaborative planning for mathematics on their knowledge and practice, and explored factors influencing teacher change.

Selena Hinchco

Regional Manager, Auckland
Selena is an experienced facilitator and educator who promotes evidence-based practice and instructional leadership in her work with leaders and teachers. As a Visible Learning Plus consultant, both in New Zealand and internationally, Selena supports Kāhui Ako and schools to embed the principles of the world-leading Visible Learning research in order to maximize student achievement outcomes. As an Expert Partner, she supports Kāhui Ako to meet their aims and is skilled in building collaborative inquiry habits, and has strengths in Practice Analysis Conversations and in establishing PLCs. Selena recently worked with international and private schools in Abu Dhabi to pilot a framework of 21st century competencies. Her Master of Education (Hons) research was focused on the use of rubrics to support formative assessment in the classroom.

Fiona McDiarmid

Regional Manager, Lower North Island 

Fiona joined the Cognition team in July 2012 and is currently the regional coordinator for Mathematics Years 1-8 based in Central South Region. She has been working in teacher professional development in mathematics and statistics since 2001.   Fiona brings a wealth of experience to the team. Prior to joining Cognition, Fiona spent 8 years with Victoria University where she led the mathematics advisory team and lectured a few mathematics master level papers. This was followed by a three year stint at the Ministry of Education where her main role focused on improving mathematics educational outcomes. Fiona is passionate about mathematics and believes that all students can be successful in learning mathematics.

Alison Robinson

Accredited Consultant  

Alison joined Cognition in 2014 and is currently a consultant based in Northland. Prior to this she worked in the primary sector for 25 years and has lead curriculum teams in numeracy, literacy and physical education. She has held several leadership positions within her career and believes in developing a strong relational trust with all stake holders to raise student achievement for all learners. She has worked in several schools in Northland working with school leaders and teachers to develop in-depth and flexible mathematics professional learning.

Christine Hardie

Accredited Consultant

Christine started with Cognition Education at the beginning of 2012. She has been working in teacher professional development in mathematics and statistics education since 2004. During this time she has worked alongside school leaders and teachers delivering a wide range of in-depth and flexible mathematics professional learning as well as presented a range of mathematics and statistics workshops, most recently with a focus on overall teacher judgments and moderation.

Del Costello

Accredited Consultant  

Del has the skills that are required to provide oral language professional learning and development (PLD) to schools throughout the country. Del has worked in this space for the last 15 years. As a student of the University of Canterbury, studying towards a Masters in Education (eLearning specialisation) she is focused on keeping up to date with the current pedagogical theories, the needs of teachers at the coal face and all the learners in our diverse communities. She has a special interest in digital/eLearning and how it can be used as a tool to enhance oracy skills. In addition to her work with schools and corporates, Del is an examiner for Speech New Zealand (Speech, Drama, Communication and Professional Speaking) and a keen blogger/vlogger.

Dianne Ogle

Accredited Consultant  

Dianne has been working in mathematics professional development since 2009. She also has experience in leading professional development in digital technologies, literacy and gifted education. Dianne is passionate about mathematics education and is particularly interested in developing student discourse in mathematics classrooms, data-informed decision making and the role of digital technologies in mathematics education. Dianne is able to support schools in data analysis using wide sources of evidence and assists them to make data-informed decisions. She has recently completed her Masters of Education (Hons) at Waikato University specialising in professional learning.

Fiona Smale

Accredited Consultant
Fiona joined Cognition in 2019 as a consultant based in New Plymouth, covering the Taranaki and Whanganui areas. Prior to this, she mentored ALiM (Accelerated Learning in Maths) and MST (Maths Support Teacher) teachers. Fiona has over 25 years of experience working in primary and intermediate schools both in New Zealand and overseas, having held leadership roles in Technology and Mathematics. Fiona is particularly passionate about mathematics teaching and learning, with the belief that all students have the ability to achieve success in mathematics. As Maths Lead Teacher, she has participated in both the ALiM and MST programmes for students which focusses on removing inequalities and accelerating student achievement. Fiona is now involved in supporting teachers, leaders and principals with maths Professional Learning and Development.

Gillian Kissling

Accredited Consultant 

Gillian Kissling demonstrates passion and capability in improving teaching practice. At the heart of her work alongside schools is the development of young people as life-long learners and productive citizens. With significant expertise in collaborative inquiry Gillian empowers leaders and teachers to respond agentically. She has strengths in evaluation and self-review, acceleration practices, curriculum design and delivery and mathematics pedagogy. She has presented at symposia in New Zealand and Australia, been involved in internal consortium review and provided consultancy education since 2009. Prior to her role as education consultant she held a number of positions in the primary sector ranging from literacy leader, special education needs co-ordinator to principal. Gillian is curious, optimistic and passionate about her work in education.

Heather Lewis

Accredited Consultant   

Heather has been involved in mathematics education since 2008 and joined Cognition Education in 2012. Her facilitation experience includes working with school leaders and teachers to deliver in-depth and flexible mathematics professional learning. Her previous experience has been in curriculum development in mathematics in an International Baccalaureate school and developing enrichment programmes for gifted students in mathematics. She has presented at conferences and symposia in New Zealand and Australia, including MERGA and MAV.

Jacque Allen

Accredited Consultant  

Jacque is an education consultant for Cognition Education in the area of Innovative Learning. She is working with many schools, both with new and existing learning spaces. Her experience in teaching at both primary and secondary levels enables her to work across all curriculum areas and at all year levels. Jacque is passionate about the change management involved in innovative learning pedagogy and practice, utilising innovative learning spaces to capitalise on the advances in pedagogy across New Zealand and around the world. Jacque provides a co-constructivist approach, enabling leaders and teachers to develop strategies for learner agency, collaborative teaching practice and transforming learning spaces. Jacque is a founding and current member of the Learning Environments New Zealand committee. She has recently completed research on sustaining value within online communities.

Julia Crawford

Accredited Consultant
Julia is an experienced Mathematics and Statistics teacher, bringing with her a passion for supporting teachers to make learning engaging and relevant for all. Julia’s most recent positions were at The University of Auckland Business School as the Numeracy Skills Specialist and at Waiheke High School as the Faculty Leader of Mathematics and Statistics. Julia has expertise in improving pedagogy in mathematics and statistics, designing school wide programs with a focus on the transition between primary and secondary school, statistics teaching and learning, NCEA assessment (including program design, writing assessment tasks and moderation), and GaTE.

Julia Tong

Accredited Consultant  

Julia joined the Cognition team in 2015.  Prior to this she was a teacher and lead teacher of mathematics in a year 1–8 school in Palmerston North.  She is an experienced primary classroom teacher with a specific interest in mathematics. Julia currently works in Palmerston North and New Plymouth to support schools with professional development in mathematics and statistics, offering a wide range of topics including effective pedagogy, mathematical content knowledge, acceleration practices and the use of inquiry to improve teaching and learning.   Julia also contributes to the Programmes for Students project – ALiM (Accelerated Learning in Mathematics) and MST (Mathematics Support Teacher), as a mentor and training facilitator. Julia is passionate about developing data driven decision making skills and leadership capability that will raise student achievement for all learners.

Kim Bulluss

Accredited Consultant  

Kim joined Cognition in 2012. Prior to this, Kim was a primary teacher for 16 years and had led curriculum teams in literacy, numeracy and the arts.  Kim has worked in a diverse range of schools across Auckland delivering professional learning and development to build teacher and leader capability in mathematics years 1–8, effective pedagogy, culturally responsive pedagogies, data analysis, teacher inquiry and implementing and monitoring acceleration programmes.   She has a particular interest in relationship based learning and building stronger partnerships with whānau groups and local communities to improve the learning outcomes for their students. Kim regularly presents at Primary Mathematics Association and Mathematics Association of Victoria conferences and has an interest in incorporating her love of music and the arts across the curriculum into the delivery of mathematics.

Kylie Surgenor

Accredited Consultant  

Kylie began her career with Cognition in April 2016, joining the mathematics team based in South Taranaki. Prior to this, she worked in an intermediate school as a classroom teacher and mathematics leader where she focused on accelerating student achievement in mathematics. She participated in ALiM and MST Programmes for Students.  Since joining Cognition, she has mentored ALiM and MST teachers in the Taranaki region and supported teachers, leaders and principals with professional learning and development in mathematics teaching and learning.

Kylie is a Relationship-based Learning trained facilitator. 

Laurayne Tafa

Associate Consultant

Laurayne has a wide range of teaching, leadership, advisory and evaluation experiences in educational contexts situated in rural and urban Māori and Pasifika environments. In all of her roles her focus has been on building communities, and organisational performance to achieve improved student outcomes. She is skilled at developing open, consultative processes with stakeholders to grow educationally powerful partnerships. These result in capacity and capability building within communities. Over many years she has played an integral role in challenging the failing status quo and bringing about positive change in both literacy leadership and school leadership schooling improvement projects.

Lee Smith

Accredited Consultant
Lee joined Cognition in 2019 after working in her local intermediate as a class room teacher and syndicate leader for some years. She was heavily involved with the ALiM programme within her Community of Learning and enjoys seeing the success students and teachers have when using acceleration practices. Lee is driven by creating learning environments in which a growth mindset and agentic attitudes are fostered.  Her other leadership roles included Maths lead teacher, assessment coordinator and an across school teacher in her Kahui Ako. Lee holds a Masters in Degree Education from Victoria University of Wellington, where she majored in curriculum learning and assessment.

Louise Miller

Accredited Consultant  

Louise has worked within the education sector in local and international settings. Since relocating to New Zealand, she has developed a commitment to developing rich, authentic learning experiences for students, teachers and leaders. Louise has worked in a range of capacities delivering professional learning support in mathematics to schools, leadership clusters and regional symposiums. She has supported networks of schools to develop both effective home school partnerships and strong assessment practice through the implementation of the Mutukaroa project.  Louise supports schools to demystify learning in the classroom in order to build authentic relational learning partnerships with whānau. She values strong inquiry practices, is invested in exploring and implementing research-based learning to develop strong cultures of learning in schools and across local communities.  

Louise is a Relationship-based Learning trained facilitator. 

Marie Hirst

Associate Consultant  

Marie has over 15 years experience as a facilitator specialising in providing quality professional learning and support in mathematics and statistics. She has worked extensively with many schools across Auckland to develop effective mathematics teaching, assessment, data analysis, leadership, and intervention programmes to accelerate learning in mathematics for a diverse range of students. She presents regularly at PMA and NZAMT mathematics conferences in New Zealand as well as internationally at MERGA and MAV, and has written mathematics resources and support material for teachers. Since joining Cognition in 2012 Marie has also coordinated professional learning for educators in the LEOTC sector (Learning Experiences Outside the Classroom). Prior to facilitation, Marie was a primary school teacher both in New Zealand and England.

Mere Snowden

Accredited Consultant
Mere has worked in a diverse range of educational environments in both English medium and Māori medium settings. Her breadth of experience ranges from being a primary school teacher, to delivery of initial teacher education as a Senior Lecturer. Mere’s diversity of experience ensures that her practice is informed by the principles of Kaupapa Māori and strengthened by the most current of western research. She is passionate about the regeneration of te reo Māori and culturally responsive practices informed by affirming relationships and the culture of ‘high teaching’ that will close the educational ‘disparity’ gap for tamariki Māori. Mere offers a range of expertise in both Māori and English medium contexts, including cultural responsiveness and a wealth of knowledge around engagaing with whanau and communities. Her strengths in leading change initiatives draw on the principles of te Tiriti o Waitangi and Ka Hikitia, and her focus on identity, language and culture ensures schools respond to learner aspirations.

Dr Phil Coogan

Associate Consultant  

Dr Phil Coogan is a well-respected educator with a background in secondary school English teaching, teacher education and teacher professional development. He has been a Commonwealth Fellow, President of the New Zealand Association of Teachers of English and national moderator for NCEA English. He is an associate of the University of London Institute of Education and is currently on the national executive of PLANZ (The Professional Learning Association New Zealand Te Māngai Whakangungu Kaiako o Aotearoa). Phil’s doctoral thesis explored the influence of high stakes assessment on English teachers’ adoption of innovations such as ICTs. He is a Senior Associate who has a deep understanding and expertise in schooling reform, curriculum development, teacher professional development and research and evaluation.

Dr Pip Arnold

Associate Consultant    

Pip is a pragmatic and considered leader, she has been working at Cognition Education since 2010, and brings with her a wealth of experience. She has project directed some of New Zealand’s largest primary mathematics contracts and has extensive expertise in curriculum and assessment development. Additionally she has led data collection and analysis projects, which ensure accurate identification of primary needs and impactful reporting across the New Zealand education system.

Raewyn Gainsford

Accredited Consultant  

Raewyn joined Cognition in 2013 and is currently a consultant based in Taranaki. While the main focus of her work is mathematics, she has also worked as a facilitator to support networks of schools involved with the Mutukaroa project. Prior to this she worked in primary education for many years and has a passion for developing skills in making teaching and learning accessible for everyone.

Raewyn is a Relationship-based Learning trained facilitator. 

Rebecca Bishop

Accredited Consultant
Rebecca joined Cognition in 2019 and brings strengths in teacher inquiry, curriculum, assessment and digital technologies. Prior to this she was a deputy principal of a large diverse urban school. Due to a fascination of how people learn Rebecca left a career as a practicing scientist and has been in education for over a decade. Rebecca has a deep understanding of teacher inquiry including being the project leader of a Teacher Led Innovation Fund project (TLIF) that focused on developing Makerspace pedagogy to improve outcomes for priority learners. In her school and Kāhui Ako Rebecca led  inquiry project groups with a focus on raising student achievement in mathematics, including leading and facilitating PLD and Programmes for Students (ALIM).

Sue Holmes

Accredited Consultant
Sue joined Cognition Education in 2019 and is based in Tai Tokerau. She has extensive experience in supporting schools as a facilitator and project leader. Sue’s innovative approach to curriculum development was recognised with a Woolf Fisher Trust Fellowship for Mathematics and Science. Sue’s strengths in science, technology and mathematics provide the opportunity to integrate curriculum and create exciting learning experiences from primary through to secondary learners.

TeAhua Park

Accredited Consultant  

TeAhua Park (Ngapuhi/ Ngatihine) has worked in the education sector for 20 years as an experienced classroom teacher in primary school settings. For the past four years she has facilitated the learning with digital technologies professional learning and development contract in a range of Northland schools. TeAhua is a passionate facilitator with expertise in designing connected curriculum, working in innovative learning environments, building community partnerships through collaboration and learning and teaching with digital technologies. TeAhua works with all stakeholders (students, whānau, teachers, leaders and BOTs) to review, design and deliver responsive professional development opportunities which build leadership and teacher capability, improve student outcomes and create a catalyst for effective change.

TeAhua is a Relationship-based Learning trained facilitator. 

Tracy Bowker

Associate Consultant  

Tracy comes from a varied secondary education background, including National Certificate of Education Achievement (NCEA) roles. Tracy’s expertise revolves around the use and integration of digital technology in teaching and learning.  

Tracy currently represents Cognition as the project leader for a number of New Zealand Ministry of Education contracts. She was previously the project leader for the national blended e-Learning and digital technologies guidelines projects. Tracy provides Cognition with a unique background and strong leadership qualities.

Questions? We’d love to hear from you.