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Meet Our Conference Presenters

Barbara Ala’alatoa - Principal, Sylvia Park School, Auckland, New Zealand

Creating an Indigenous Social Studies Curriculum

Barbara Ala’alatoa has been in education for more than 30 years. She has had a variety of experience in teaching, and working across the education sector. This has included lecturing at Auckland College of Education and co-ordinating schooling improvement at the Ministry of Education. Barbara is currently Principal at Sylvia Park Primary School - a job she describes as 'the best job ever by miles'! Over the last few years Sylvia Park School has developed a 'collective approach to school-wide inquiry'. They are committed to creating students who will change the world through their genuine inquiry into things that really and truly matter. The question they pose while planning for inquiry for and with their students is, 'so what'. If they can't apply their learning in a way that makes a tangible outcome that benefits themselves and other then they won't waste their time 'doing' it. They have challenged themselves to be culturally responsive to their students and community in a way that moves them well beyond the cultural notions that are visible and obvious. Sylvia Park School is always on a journey. It is exciting, hard work, stressful and complete with the highs and lows that come with trying to do something amazing!
In 2015 she was appointed as the Chair of the Education Council of Aotearoa, New Zealand. A role she considers to be her most exciting and challenging yet.

Piata Allen - Te Puna Wānanga, Faculty of Education and Social Work, University of Auckland 

Using a Flipped Learning model to teach mathematics language and content/concepts in a second-language

I am a former secondary school teacher (year 9-13) and led the establishment of a Faculty of Mātauranga Māori at a large mainstream secondary school in West Auckland. I currently work in tertiary teacher education. I lecture to undergraduate and post-graduate students in Te Reo Māori teaching and Maori-medium mathematics.  My primary research focus area is on second language acquisition and the mathematics register. I am also interested in the role of ICT technology in assisting language acquisition and the learning mathematics concepts/content.

Janice E. Billy - Chief Atahm School Secwepemc Immersion

Restorying Our Languages: Stories that teach; Silly songs for language learning

Janice E. Billy has been an immersion teacher for over 20 years and has worked with all ages of language learners, from preschool-aged children to adults. She is adept at creating lesson ideas from familiar themes using the TPR-Storytelling Approach. Janice also teaches the Chief Atahm School Total Physical Response Summer Institutes. She brings a lot of enthusiam to the classroom and to her workshop presentations. Janice has recently completed her Masters in Language Revitalization through the University of Victoria. Her research focus is merging the Secwepemc oral tradition with TPR-Storytelling techniques.

Hēmi Dale - Māori Medium Education, Te Puna Wānanga, Faculty of Education University of Auckland.

Creating an indigenous social studies curriculum

I am a former primary school teacher and have worked in tertiary education for the last 20 years. I am the former Head Of School of Maori Education in the Faculty of Education. I have been the director of Māori-medium teacher education programmes for a number of years – I now co share the role with Katarina Edmonds. My research has centered on Māori-medium education and its development.  I led the team which developed the national Māori-medium Tikanga ā Iwi (social sciences) curricula.  Aligned with this has been my involvement in the development of a te reo Māori social sciences lexicon and register. I have had a consistent interest in childrens’ language acquisition and linguistic development in Māori-medium settings as well as effective pedagogy in immersion settings. 

Annette Dominik - Thompson Rivers University

Learning Language through Gestures – the Accelerative Integrated Method (AIM)

Born and raised in Kamloops, Dr. Annette Dominik is a Senior Lecturer with 25 years of language teaching experience at TRU.  She acquired a passion for languages through her German-speaking heritage and completed an undergraduate degree in Romance Languages at UBC, subsequently completing an M.A. in Spanish Grammar at Université Laval in Québec.  She embarked on a teaching career at the University College of the Cariboo (now TRU) and completed a PhD in French studies (linguistics) from Université de Sherbrooke.  She was introduced to the AIM several years ago, and has used it in her own teaching at TRU

Katarina Edmonds - Te Puna Wānanga, Faculty of Education and Social Work, University of Auckland 

Creating an indigenous oral language proficiency assessment tool

I am a native speaker of te reo Māori. Te reo Māori maintenance and revitalisation is my priority, especially the role that Māori-medium education has in ensuring its survival. My current research interest is Māori language proficiency assessment, including testing, and its contribution to successful learning in te reo Māori. My professional teaching career in the primary classroom began in 1981, from 1988 I have focused my professional career in the Māori-medium education sector, from the classroom, pre-service delivery, in-service language development, government policy, curriculum development, language testing theory and development, international indigenous language classroom theory and educational publishing for Māori medium. I have recently returned to the university sector as a senior lecturer with a primary focus on in initial teacher education for Māori-medium teachers. I was formally on the Board of the Māori Language Commission – set up under the Māori Language Act 1987 to promote the use of Māori as a living language.

Suzanne Gessner - First Peoples’ Cultural Council

Raising Language Speakers: The Language Nest Model

Suzanne Gessner is a language activist and instructor. As part of the language team at First
Peoples’ Cultural Council she assists with community-driven language revitalization efforts across British Columbia. Suzanne also teaches courses in Indigenous language revitalization, linguistics and anthropology at several universities in BC.

Michele Johnson - Syilx Language House Association

Learning through Teaching – Syilx Language House

My name is Sʔímlaʔxw. I am Syilx (Okanagan Interior Salish) and suyápix (Euro-Canadian) and I live in Penticton BC, Canada. I am a language activist and Nsyilxcn (Okanagan, Interior Salish) teacher in my community and am studying to become n’tłłcin (a clear, or advanced speaker). My action-based research strives to stem the erosion of Indigenous languages by training adult learners to become speakers, assessing our progress, and recording Elders. In my off-time you will find me cross-country skiing and hiking in the mountains and forests.

Jane Juuso - Sami Language Revitalization

Taking Back My Language

I have been working as a social worker for 20 years. In 2000 I started working in a Language center (Isak Saba guovddáš) where I still work. I helped to develop a language nest for children to learn the Sámi Language. This is one of the many language programs offered for people to learn the Sámi language.

Tammy LeBourdais - Chief Atahm School

Language Games & Activities

Tammy began working at Chief Atahm School over 20 years ago as a curriculum assistant. She has since completed her teaching degree and now is a grade one/two teacher in the immersion program. Her infectious enthusiasm combined with her knowledge of teaching, is sure to inspire teachers to energize their classrooms.

Robert Matthew - Language and Education Consultant

Land-Based Language Teaching

Robert Matthew is a member of the Simpcw First Nation, located in south central British Columbia. He is married with 2 daughters and 2 stepsons. He has a Bachelor of Arts and a Teaching Certificate. He has completed a Masters of Education in Administration and Curriculum. He has 36 years experience in teaching and administration, 15 years in the B.C. public schools system and 21 years at Chief Atahm School. He has dedicated years to Secwepemc language and field research, and curriculum development.

Kathryn Michel - Chief Atahm School Secwepemc Immersion

Language Games & Activities; Three Language iPad App: Collaborating to create digital language tools; Silly songs for language learning

Kathryn Michel completed her UBC Educational Doctorate Degree in 2012. Her thesis focused on the developmental stages of Chief Atahm School. She has working extensively in the development of language curriculum and has assisted other groups in developing their language programs. Through the First Nations Schools Association she has developed the First Nations Learning Essentials, a beginners level language curriculum template for First Nations Schools in B.C. Currently she is dividing her time between teaching in the Language Nest and doing her post-doctoral research through Simon Fraser University.

Stacey Michel - Chief Atahm School Secwepemc Immersion

TPR: Build Comprehension Fast through Action-Based Teaching 

This is an introductory workshop to James Asher’s Total Physical Response approach (TPR) to beginner language teaching. Master TPR teacher Stacey Michel will engage participants in this active teaching technique. This program based on physical movement develops comprehension of sentences that utilize everyday classroom objects and vocabulary. Come and experience how Chief Atahm School has used this method with great success to teach beginners of all ages.

Ella Newbold - Te Puna Wānanga, Faculty of Education and Social Work, University of Auckland 

The Genesis of Tribal Curricula: Communicating community needs to universities

I am a former primary school teacher and principal of a Kura Kaupapa Māori (Māori language school). I have been involved in providing professional development to teachers for a number of years. I currently lead a team of facilitators who support beginning teachers and their mentors in Māori-medium early childhood centres, primary and secondary schools and teachers who are developing their Maori language proficiency. I also lecture in the Māori-medium initial teacher education programme in science education. My research interest is in leadership and mentoring in Māori-medium education.

Aliana Parker - First Peoples’ Cultural Council

Raising Language Speakers: The Language Nest Model

Aliana Parker is the Language Revitalization Program Specialist at First Peoples’ Cultural Council. She works closely with community partners to coordinate language programs, develop language resources and tools, and deliver training workshops. 


Tony Trinick - Te Kura o Te Puna Wanaga

Day One Luncheon Speaker

Tony Trinick brings his diverse knowledge and expertise in Maori education to our conference. Tony is the head of Te Kura o Te Puna Wananga, the School of Maori Education within the Faculty of Education and Social Work at the University of Auckland. The staff and students within the school are committed to excellence in teacher education that is underpinned by Tikanga, Te Reo and Matauranga Maori. Tony has worked to improve student achievement in Maori immersion, bi-lingual and mainstream schools in New Zealand. His research interests focus on student achievement in Maori medium mathematics and the factors that support and impinge on student progress.