School of Education Executive

The School of Education is led by an executive team who are specialists in evidence-based teaching and research that transforms how people learn.

“To lead innovation and change in education we must navigate a terrain that is steeped in history and tradition, and find opportunities to disrupt practice and transform learning,” says Professor Joanna Barbousas, Dean of the School of Education. “I aspire to collaboratively lead education transformation that has national and international reach.”

Professor Joanna Barbousas

Professor Joanna Barbousas is Dean of the School of Education and Professor of Teacher Education. She leads a dynamic school that is changing the face of education in Australia and abroad. Her research and teaching expertise is in education policy, teacher practice and the teaching profession. With over 25 years’ experience as a teacher and academic, Professor Barbousas’s research focuses on new visions in teacher education, and the role of partnerships and sector collaborations to drive the status of the teaching profession. She helped secure over $7M funding for the High Achieving Teachers Program known as Nexus, which is delivered with the support of the Australian Government Department of Education, Skills and Employment. La Trobe also acknowledges the support of the Victorian Department of Education. Nexus is designed to deliver an innovative, employment-based education program that builds quality teachers for regional, rural and high needs schools in Victoria. Professor Barbousas is a change leader committed to pushing the boundaries to ensure that quality education is accessible to all.

Professor Bernadette Walker-Gibbs

Professor Bernadette Walker-Gibbs is Deputy Dean and Associate Dean, Academic in the School of Education. She has led education initiatives in higher education, schools and with communities in Victoria and Queensland. Professor Walker-Gibbs is recognised as an outstanding educator with commendations for teaching and research excellence. She has an international reputation in research for her leadership of large scale, longitudinal studies in teacher education, and for international comparative studies in rural education. Professor Walker-Gibbs’s career has focused on ensuring quality education and opportunities for all students. Her research and teaching is shaped by working with and in communities to understand how and why context matters, to better support pre-service teachers to develop partnerships built through mutual trust, respect and negotiation.

Professor Therese Keane

Professor Therese Keane is Associate Dean, Research and Industry Engagement, Discipline Lead of Impactful Pedagogies and Professor of STEM Education in the School of Education. Professor Keane is a champion for empowering women in STEM. She has worked in a variety of school settings where she has taught IT and lead in K-12 education as the Director of ICT. Professor Keane has serviced on several state, national and international boards. She is Deputy Editor of Education and Information Technologies, the official journal of the International Federation for Information Processing Technical Committee on Education covering the complex relationship between information and communication technologies and education. She has published 16 textbooks in all units of VCE Senior Information Technology in Victoria since 1995 and has worked with the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority in the development of the VCE IT Study Design and various roles associated with VCE assessment over the past 25 years. Professor Keane has been involved in the provision of professional development to ICT teachers and research into the use of technology, gender inequalities in STEM based subjects, robotics in education and computers in schools for teaching and learning purposes.

Professor Miriam Tanti

Professor Miriam Tanti is Associate Dean, Partnerships in the School of Education. Professor Tanti is an experienced educator who has dedicated more than 20 years to collaborating with teachers, schools, and school systems. Throughout her career, she has played a pivotal role in fostering engagement and innovation among key educational stakeholders and industry partners, both nationally and internationally. At present, she holds the position of Associate Dean Academic Partnerships and serves as the Director of the Commonwealth-supported Nexus program - an innovative pathway to enter the teaching profession. Nexus represents an employment-based pathway designed to attract and prepare a diverse cohort of high-achieving prospective teachers for roles in metropolitan, regional and rural secondary and primary schools in Victoria and New South Wales. In support of this work, her research explores the influence and impact of school and university partnerships on teacher development, including preservice teachers, mentor teachers, and communities of practice. Her efforts in this area have been instrumental in advocating for an integrated approach to initial teacher education. Additionally, her other area of exploration and research focuses on the meaningful integration of digital technologies in education. Her collaboration with Microsoft and Telstra resulted in the development of simulations designed to equip preservice teachers for their professional experience and the teaching profession. This initiative not only is at the forefront of evidence-informed contemporary educational practices but also garnered the endorsement of key regulatory authorities.

Associate Professor Melissa Barnes

Associate Professor Melissa Barnes is Associate Dean, Learning and Teaching; the Director of Initial Teacher Education and School Partnerships; and the Discipline Lead of Social Justice and Diversity in the School of Education. Associate Professor Barnes’ teaching focus and research interests are situated within the fields of teacher education, pedagogy, assessment, policy and Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). She has led research initiatives that focus on how policies impact and shape teaching and learning. She is trained as both a primary school teacher and an English-as-an-Additional-Language teacher. Associate Professor Barnes has taught in schools in the United States, Germany, Vietnam, Brunei and Australia. Recent projects include an examination of teacher education policy reforms and schools, family and community partnerships supporting families from refugee backgrounds. She has published in journals such as Teaching and Teacher Education, Critical Studies in Education, Higher Education, Educational Review and Teachers and Teaching.

Associate Professor Tanya Serry

Associate Professor Tanya Serry is Discipline Lead of Learning Sciences in the School of Education. In 2020, Associate Professor Serry founded the SOLAR Lab with Professor Pamela Snow. The SOLAR Lab is a virtual platform for research collaborations, advocacy for structured literacy implementation, school coaching and mentoring in schools, the delivery of a suite of online short courses and consultancies. Associate Professor Serry's research interests centre on the policy and practices of evidence-based reading instruction and intervention practices for students across the educational lifespan. She is particularly interested in addressing the social gradient that exists for students’ reading capacity as well as the experiences of parents, educators and allied professionals who engage with the Science of Reading. She is the recent past editor-in-chief of the Australian Journal of Learning Difficulties and currently serves on the editorial board. Associate Professor Serry is an elected board member of the Ethics Board for Speech Pathology Australia. She is also an active researcher and a member of a number of interdisciplinary research teams both within, and external to, La Trobe University.

Dr Kate O'Connor

Dr Kate O’Connor is Director of Graduate Research in the School of Education. She is also Senior Lecturer in Policy and Leadership and was previously the School’s Coordinator of Graduate Research (2020-2021). Dr O'Connor's research focuses on educational policy and governance in schooling and higher education, with particular interests in curriculum, knowledge, inequalities and digital transformations. Dr O'Connor has previously contributed to nationally funded research projects examining changes in the Australian school curriculum over time and between states, history and physics teaching in schools and universities, the implications of new public management forms of governance, the nationalisation of schooling reform and young people’s aspirations in urban and rural areas. Her co-authored book publications include Australia’s Curriculum Dilemmas (Melbourne University Publishing, 2011) and Knowledge at the Crossroads (Springer, 2017).

Dr Steve Murphy

Dr Steve Murphy is Director of Initial Teacher Education and Alternative Pathways in the School of Education. Dr Murphy’s research and teacher education is informed by his extensive experience as a teacher and educational leader in primary and secondary schools. He researches teacher preparation to work and thrive in rural areas and traditionally disadvantaged schools. He also has a strong research focus on teaching and school leadership practices that contribute to students’ engagement and achievement in STEM, science and mathematics education. He has particular expertise in the factors contributing to STEM education success in rural and regional schools. Dr Murphy takes a strengths-focused approach to his research, identifying what teachers, schools and systems do well, in order to leverage these strengths to tackle challenges and seek improvements.

Mr Blair Herbert

Mr Blair Herbert is Senior Manager in the School of Education. He has worked in in the tertiary education sector for over 20 years and has held a number of senior administrative roles throughout this time in both New Zealand and Australia. Mr Herbert holds a Postgraduate Diploma in Business Administration from the University of Auckland.

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