Te Kete Hono Team

Judy Newcombe - CEO

Judy Newcombe is our CEO. Judy has worked in a range of roles as a university lecturer and sociology researcher, management consultant, senior manager in Tower NZ, Telecom (now Spark) and Fonterra as well as in leadership roles in the education not for profit sector. She has served on the Boards of Competenz and Stonefields Collaborative Trust. Judy is driven by the aspiration for children to flourish in an equitable society and by the opportunity to support the growth of Te Kete Hono as a sustainable social enterprise contributing to improvements in learning outcomes for all of our students.  

Emily Ruffell - SchoolTalk Innovation Lead

Emily has worked on the development of the SchoolTalk app since its conception in 2015. Today her role focuses on overseeing the running of the app to ensure it is implemented and maintained effectively. The role of the SchoolTalk Innovation Lead enables Emily to support teachers, learners and parents while making teaching and learning more effective and efficient. 

Prior to becoming the SchoolTalk Innovation Lead, Emily was an Associate Principal at Stonefields School, where she enjoyed supporting teachers to grow in their practice through designing rich and relevant learning opportunities, growth coaching, and evaluating impact. 

Jana Benson - Professional Learning and Development Lead

As our Professional Learning and Development lead, Jana works with teachers and schools to establish and develop a shared language of learning and believes this is fundamental for learners’ agency and their assessment capability. 

Jana has extensive experience of working with schools in areas of learner agency, local curriculum development, writing graduate profiles, evaluation of teacher impact, digital learning, AfL, and leading/coaching collaborative inquiries. She is passionate about learner agency, and has actively pursued this in leading a Kahui Ako Achievement Challenge, leading a TLIF project, and in her doctoral study.   

Jason Colman - Lead Technical Support

The go-to guy for all things tech; Jason is a pivotal member of the Te Kete Hono technology team. 

Jason draws on his experience as a Teacher Aide to support users and work on the development of new technology. Through teaching, Jason used SchoolTalk every day as a user and he says he saw first-hand how it empowered teachers in their day to day practice.  

Traci Sietu - Facilitator, Lecturer, Mentor

Traci is an MoE Accredited PLD Facilitator who works alongside leaders, teachers and organisations to support and shift current practices and pedagogies. A dedicated and passionate advocate for continued learning, Traci is experienced across all PLD priority areas and works with individuals and communities to establish successful outcomes for learners. 

Traci fosters a community of practice through her experience and interest in developing collaborative practices while fostering the cultural narratives and journey of each person and organisation. Traci’s approach extends beyond the school to help ensure learners have the necessary support to do their best learning. 

Louise Mitchell - Executive Administrator

Louise joined Te Kete Hono as administrator in July 2022. With a background in travel  also in the charity space, she brings her exceptional organisational and administration skills to the team, and assists with arranging professional development workshops, and helps with the growth of the SchoolTalk client base around New Zealand and further afield. She says she is excited to be part of the growing TKH team and is enjoying learning so much about the education sector.  

Rachael Sutton - Digital Marketing Manager

Utilising her background in journalism, communications, and digital marketing, Rachael handles all the digital marketing for Te Kete Hono and SchoolTalk. 

Rachael has extensive experience in the not-for-profit sector, and brings a creative and dynamic approach to the table to amplify our brand messaging and identity. 

Ilya Federov - Head of Technology 

Ilya is our Head of Technology and one of the original co-founders of SchoolTalk. He has over 20 years experience in software development and team management in various industries. He is passionate about education, product development, and creating efficient teams. 

Ilya makes sure the Te Kete Hono team has all the technology support they need, and the relevant processes and tools in place to achieve excellence.  

Natasha Shumilova - Support Developer

Natasha is a former student of Stonefields School and now works as our Support Developer. She knows first hand how a great school environment makes the difference for learner experiences and progress. She looks after support queries and develops improvements to our systems. 

Natasha is passionate about pair programming and mobbing, and is determined to get results so our systems run at their best. 

Bob Miller - PLD Facilitator and Data Analytics Lead

Bob supports a variety of kaiako, kura and kāhui ako to analyse their impact on values and capabilities that have not traditionally been quantified such as agency, hauora and engagement. He is passionate about the power and potential of data to inform and drive change in education, and also supports educators to make greater use of their traditional data sets. 

Bob also has extensive experience in leading and developing rich learning design and the creative use of digital technology. He supports a number of teams to develop pedagogy that is purposeful, holistic and inclusive.  

Kylie Dawson - Head of School Support

Kylie has an extensive background in education, teaching all year groups from Year 0 - 8 in a range of schools and deciles. She has worked as a Within School Leader as part of a Kāhui Ako, and led teams as a Syndicate Leader. Her passion has been the mentoring of Teachers and Kaiako to work collaboratively and effectively, ensuring that the learners are engaged, supported and challenged to achieve. 

Kylie's understanding of the importance of learner agency saw her complete research in the area through the Teacher-Lead Innovation fund, and then go on to achieve a Masters of Educational Practice with Distinction.

Kylie will be supporting schools in developing their proficiency in the use of SchoolTalk, and we are thrilled to have such a knowledgeable and passionate educator on the team!

Mel Prasad - Facilitator

Mel Prasad is passionate about closing the equity divide, and getting the best possible outcomes for all learners, regardless of their age, stage or capabilities. I believe that it is crucial to have learners at the center of teaching and learning, allowing them to take ownership and be a full participant in their learning journey. 

As a teacher of 13 years, I understand the struggles and demands placed upon teachers in today’s climate. I aim to work alongside kaiako to ease their load and save them time, all whilst enhancing teacher effectiveness. I am so excited to be part of this team and to continue to support teachers to unlock their full potential.

Wendy Burne - Facilitator

 I am an accomplished educator and have been working in the education sector for a number of years, in both museum education and school settings. In all of my roles my goal has always been to create and facilitate relevant, targeted educational opportunities for ākonga. I specialise in digital fluency and innovation, and are an advocate for student agency and accessibility. In recent years I worked with Raranga Matihiko who held a Ministry of Education contract to assist schools roll out the digital curriculum in the Auckland area. This involved supporting teacher confidence and the blending of the DT curriculum. This alongside teaching under the pressures of Covid-19 gives me a good understanding of the intracacies of teaching and learning today.

As teachers we are often time poor, having a tool that aids us to take what we already do well and work more efficiently makes sense to me - I wish I had had that when I was in the classroom. Working collaboratively has always been a fundamental part of how I plan and SchoolTalk encourages and facilities this seemlessly. With SchoolTalk teachers can plan together, pulling from and making connections to data. This informs planning and encourages teachers to work to their strengths to create relevant experiences for learners. I have always been an advocate for working smarter and SchoolTalk enables this, easily incorporated into syndicate planning sessions and a teacher's daily activities. This frees up time for teaching and learning, to do the stuff which got most of us into teaching in the first place.

I particularly love how students have agency with SchoolTalk. They can really connect to their learning, have a clear understanding of what they are working on and why, what their next steps are and are able to share when they have met these and are ready for the next challenge.


This really does help with engagement and targeted learning. I am excited to be working with the SchoolTalk team and to support others in education to unlock SchoolTalks potential.

Samantha Craig - Facilitator

My name is Samantha and I am one of the facilitators of Te Kete Hono and I am here to set you up for success on SchoolTalk. I have been with Te Kete Hono since January 2022 and I bring with me a wealth of knowledge around learning in the digital space. My teaching career began in 2013. Since then I taught in a variety of different contexts including a range of deciles, countries and learning environments. I know first hand the challenges of educating learners in the 21st century.

During my time as an educator I discovered a passion for using digital tools to enhance the teaching and learning experience, not only for the learners, but teachers as well. As a result I went on to lead my school in IT. During that time I set up a robotics lab and led my fellow teachers in implementing a variety of digital platforms to enhance their efficiency and effectiveness. Shortly after, I took on a role as an Across School Leader for my local Kahui Ako. I was able to take these skills and help teachers across other schools. It was this role that lead me to Te Kete Hono - SchoolTalk.

I always say that SchoolTalk was the app I wish I had during my time as a teacher. I love the way it takes the teaching, learning and assessing process and codifies it all within one app. I appreciate how time poor teachers are today, and SchoolTalk can speed up the processes that can take up a lot of time and brain power. I can see the value that learners and their whanau can get from having access to their personalised learning and progress, any time, anywhere. SchoolTalk is the future of learning management systems and I am so excited to be part of something so innovative.