School Board Members
BA, BEd, MEd
Principal (ex officio)
Vanessa Aikins has over 25 years experience in education and teaching. Vanessa commenced her teaching career as a Home Economics, Physical Education and Health Education teacher, then moved into school administration in Department of Education Senior High Schools and District High Schools as Head of Department, Deputy Principal and Principal. Vanessa worked in the Canning District Education Office as a Curriculum Officer and was Principal of Warnbro Community High School’s Education Support Centre. Vanessa joined Rockingham Montessori School as Principal in 2011, and completed the AMI Montessori Teachers Association Orientation to Adolescent Studies Program in 2013.
Professor Barry Down
BSc, GradDipEd, BEd, MEd, PhD
Barry Down has been involved in teaching and teacher education for the best part of 40 years. He has been active on local school boards both public and private as Chair, Vice Chair and General Board Member. In his role as the City of Rockingham Chair in Education (2004-2013) he engaged with local committees and organisations involved in school planning, youth development, and employment. Barry has served in various leadership roles at Edith Cowan University and Murdoch University as well as professional associations including the Australian Council of Deans of Education (ACDE). His research interests focus on student engagement, personalised learning and the small schools’ movement. He has co-authored seven books, among them: Critically Engaged Learning: Connecting to Young Lives; ‘Hanging in With Kids’ in Tough Times: Engagement in Contexts of Educational Disadvantage in the Relational School; The Socially Just School; Promoting Early Career Teacher Resilience; and School-to-Work Transitions: Young People Have Something to Say. Barry officially ‘retired’ from Murdoch University at the end of last year but continues to work on a large Australian Research Council (ARC) grant investigating school exclusion. He recently accepted an appointment as Adjunct Professor at the University of South Australia. Barry and his wife Jenny live in Baldivis. He has two daughters and a delightful granddaughter.
Born in England and emigrated to Australia having already qualified as a Chartered Accountant I had my daughter in 1995 and enrolled her in Montessori from age 3. We moved to Western Australia in 2004 and she joined Beehive Montessori. In 2005 I started the first Montessori child care centre in WA called Southbank Montessori. This has now been going for over 15 years.
Joined the board of Rockingham Montessori as I am a passionate believer in creating strong schools especially with high schools.
Jocelyn is the parent of two children at RMS and a PhD candidate at the University of Notre Dame. As a research officer with more than fifteen years, including managing a reproductive laboratory, Jocelyn is experienced in regulatory compliance. Her research aims to improve the long term health of young people with developmental conditions
General Board Member
Dr Kristina Lemson
General Board Member
I have a Bachelor of Science in Botany and Soil Science, and a PhD in Plant Systematics and Evolution. I have worked in both public, private, and not-for-profit sectors in agriculture, conservation and higher education. Currently, I work in the Science and Maths discipline within the School of Science at Edith Cowan University as a teaching Focused Scholar. I teach a diversity of undergraduate and postgraduate science subjects, and supervise research projects in evolutionary biology, plant science and computing. My personal research aims to enhance knowledge of the Australian flora, through discovering and describing new species and understanding their evolution.
I am passionate about opening up science to all and ensuring that all Australian students have access to quality, inspiring science learning experiences. In professional settings, I adopt innovative teaching and assessment practices that encourage students to explore their role as ‘translators’ of science. As a member of ECU’s multi-award-winning ‘Old Ways, New Ways’ science program, I have worked with Aboriginal and Torres Straits Islander communities to contextualise contemporary science within their own knowledges and cultures, and to inspire Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander students to study science. I am a long-time advocate for women in science and strive to ensure that a diversity of voices is heard in all contexts.
I currently sit on the boards of two public schools and am keen to contribute to and learn from the Independent school sector. I have adopted elements of Montessori’s philosophy in my own teaching at Tertiary level, and believe it offers much, not only to school-age children and young adults but also to the broader community. In joining your Board, I would seek to learn from the School as well as to contribute my knowledge, experience and perspectives gained from the breadth of my involvement in both professional and community capacities.