ACT Branch President - Dr Kirk Zwangobani

Kerrie Blain Sandra Darley Lachlan Ellis
Dr Stacey Griffiths Tabatha Kellett Tom Kobal
Michele McLoughlin Melissa Planten Tabatha Kellett
Peter Usher

Dr Kirk Zwangobani

ACEL ACT Branch President

Dr Kirk Zwangobani is an School Leader at Dickson College in Canberra, where leads the Humanities and English team and senior secondary curriculum. Over his teaching career Kirk has held significant leadership roles in several ACT government schools. He has also developed policy and projects within the ACT Education Directorate, with a particular focus on student engagement and voice. Most recently, Kirk has been working closely with the Board of Senior Secondary Studies in a cross sectorial capacity, in the development of 21st C Humanities and Social Science curriculum.

Kirk’s qualitative research explores the intersection of social, cultural, and education theory and how a deeper understanding race, culture and diversity can better help us understand young people’s educational and life experiences. He has consulted with not for profit research companies, local government and Commonwealth Education. Kirk currently Chairs the ACT Multicultural Advisory Council advising the ACT Minister for Multicultural Affairs, is an AEL editorial committee member, and a member of ACEL’s Academic Advisory Board.

Kirk was awarded an ACEL ACT Fellowship in 2019, and was a 2016 ACEL New Voice Scholar in Education Leadership research. This will be Kirk’s 2nd term with the ACT Executive. He hopes to work with the ACEL executive to increase and diversify the ACT membership and create a dynamic and responsive ACEL community in the ACT.

Sandra Darley

Branch Executive Member

Sandra has had extensive experience in leadership in Catholic education in the ACT and currently holds the substantive role of Head of Campus at St Mary MacKillop College. In 2016 she was seconded to the role of Senior Officer Secondary Curriculum and Pedagogy where she led the implementation of a Curriculum and Pedagogy strategy in NSW and ACT Catholic secondary schools in the Archdiocese of Canberra Goulburn. Sandra holds a Bachelor of Education and a Masters in Educational Leadership, and at the invitation of the Australian Catholic University co taught in the online Masters of Education programme in 2017/18. She is deeply committed to teacher professional learning and preservice teacher education and in conjunction with ACU co designed and has facilitated the delivery of a school based Masters in Teaching programme.

Sandra is committed to securing the delivery of excellence in educational outcomes for all students to enrich the Campus she leads as a Professional Learning community for students, staff and families and the wider College community it serves. Her membership of ACEL has enriched the research and evidence based practice and entrepreneurial approaches which inform her leadership. She views member of the Executive Branch of ACEL as an opportunity to engage in and promote cross sectoral collaboration with other leaders and the research, work and profile of ACEL locally and nationally.

Lachlan Ellis

Branch Executive Member

Following 10 years working in the Early Childhood and vocational sectors Lachlan started his teaching career in 2008 and over the next 10 years working for the ACT Education Directorate held the positions of Classroom Teacher at Giralang and Weetangera Primary Schools, Literacy & Numeracy, Low SES Field Officer at Kingsford Smith School, Executive Teacher at Malkara Specialist School and Inclusion Officer and Manager of the Hearing and Vision itinerant teaching teams. Lachlan joined Catholic Education (CECG) in June 2018 as Senior Officer, Student Wellbeing & Safeguarding where he undertook workplace investigations and began leading the system’s work in aligning teacher practice with the newly formed Reportable Conduct Scheme in the ACT. Since moving into the Child Protection Manager role at CECG Lachlan has led the Archdiocese’s response to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and has overseen

Lachlan has formal coaching qualifications in GROWTH Coaching and Solutions Focused Coaching from CGi, a Bachelor of Education (Honours)- Primary Education and Masters in Education from the University of Canberra is a member of the Golden Key International Honour Society.

Michele McLoughlin

Branch Executive Member

Michele McLoughlin BA (Hons, History); DipEd, Macquarie University; Grad Dip History/Anthropology, Australian National University; Grad Dip Information Systems, University of Canberra. Awarded the Leanne Harvey Ford Award for excellence in ‘The services for young people, specialisation within the Librarianship courses’, University of Canberra; ACEL ACT Certificate of Excellence for ‘Excellence in Educational Leadership’. Michele is currently Deputy Principal and International Baccalaureate (IB) Middle Years Programme (MYP) Coordinator at Telopea Park School, Lycée Franco-Australien de Canberra.

Michele has worked as a secondary teacher leader in New South Wales Government Schools (regional and Western Sydney) and since 1998 in ACT Secondary Government Schools. Michele is passionate about education and how it changes lives. Michele believes in the importance of the school community and the school community’s role in engendering a sense of belonging, and a place where everyone is valued.

Michele has been a long-standing member of ACEL ACT. As a member of ACEL ACT Michele has worked collaboratively with ACT Government, Catholic and Independent teachers and leaders. Michele is the past Chair of the ACT/NSW MYP Coordinators Group. In her roles working for ACEL and the IB Michele has recognised the importance of national and international dialogue and communication. Michele looks forward to bringing the voices of teacher leaders to ACEL National.

Melissa Planten

Branch Executive Member

Melissa Planten is currently Principal of UC Senior Secondary College Lake Ginninderra in the Australian Capital Territory. Melissa has a breadth of national and ACT system experience – including as leader in three ACT senior secondary colleges and in the ACT Education Directorate as Manager Learning and Teaching.

Melissa has held a number of leadership and management roles including Deputy Executive Director, Australian Curriculum Studies Association (ACSA), the ACT Public Colleges Professional Learning committee, the ACT Board of Senior Secondary Studies (ACTBSSS) Curriculum Advisory Committee and is on education advisory committees for the Museum of Australian Democracy (MOAD) and the National Library of Australia (NLA). Melissa has also worked on Territory and Commonwealth initiatives including the school/university partnership model with the University of Canberra, Civics and Citizenship Education and co-written the ACT BSSS Global Studies course. Melissa’s focus is in leading improvement, innovation and change with a key interest in curriculum design. 

Peter Usher - DipT, BEd

Branch Executive Member

Peter is a teacher leader who is passionate about improving the life chances of students directly, and through empowering others using evidence-based collaborative approaches.

He has extensive experience in a range of contexts and roles, and is currently deputy principal at Black Mountain School, ACT, which is a special education high school. He moved to the ACT in 2017 from the NT where he has worked as a curriculum officer, teaching team leader and deputy principal in urban schools, and with remote Indigenous students, over the past 20 years. He believes in maximising student learning through the power of using evidence based pedagogical approaches, and has a great love for STEM subjects, as well as building reconciliation through understandings of Indigenous perspectives.

Peter strives to develop himself and others, working to improve the quality and efficiency of practices through a solution focused and targeted approach. He enjoys working with the many diverse people of our population and values using a highly differentiated approach as a foundation for embedding inclusive practices.

Stacey Griffiths

Branch Executive Member

Stacey is a Wiradjuri woman who has spent her career teaching on Ngunnawal land in the ACT Public school system. She started her career as a teacher and school leader in schools in the Tuggeranong Network and has more recently moved to Telopea Park School where she is the Executive Teacher (SLC) of Differentiation. Her experiences have focused on building teacher capacity and working with students with challenging and complex needs. She completed a Master of Education with a focus on educational research and inclusion in 2010 and has completed her Doctor of Philosophy in 2021.