A globally recognized pioneer in the fields of educational assessment and well-being.
Joanne (Waitaha, Ngāti Māmoe, and Ngāi Tahu) is a celebrated author, speaker, change leader, and executive coach. Her 30+ years of experience span time as a teacher, principal, Ministry of Education leader in New Zealand, and now a globally recognized pioneer in the fields of educational assessment and well-being. Joanne founded Kia Kotahi Ako Charitable Trust, is on the Executive Committee for Karanga: The Global Alliance for Social Emotional Learning and Life Skills, on the Education New Zealand: North America Advisory Board, an Edmund Hillary Fellow, a Fellow of Salzburg Global Seminar, and co-founder of New Pedagogies for Deep Learning (NPDL).
"We contribute to the greatest extent when we know who we are, feel connected, and pair knowledge with competency."
Contribution is Key
Based on decades of work and research across multiple countries, including the United States, Aotearoa New Zealand and Australia, Joanne and her team at The Learner First developed Contributive Learning. Contributive Learning supports school leaders, teachers and communities to seamlessly integrate SEL and academic goals in lessons designed for the students in front of them, resulting in increased student agency, efficacy, and outcomes.
The success we have had with indigenous students in Aotearoa New Zealand and Australia, has shown that this process re-engages students, families, and communities by bringing learners back towards the education system and allowing them to shape it through their own identity, language and culture.
Joanne’s continuing educational journey began in her home country of New Zealand, where she started her career as a teacher and principal before joining the Ministry of Education in 2008. With the MoE, Joanne managed multiple whole-system initiatives and began down the path of systemic reform centered on equitable outcomes and authentic assessment.
After moving to the United States in 2012, Joanne founded The Learner First to take a systemic approach to the integration of academic and social and emotional learning in schools, and a year later co-founded the New Pedagogies for Deep Learning (NPDL) global initiative. Sharing and continuing to expand upon her over 30 + years of experience, Joanne is also on the Executive Committee for Karanga: The Global Alliance for Social Emotional Learning and Life Skills, on the Education New Zealand: North America Advisory Board, an Edmund Hillary Fellow, and a Fellow of Salzburg Global Seminar.
Joanne embeds a social, emotional, and cultural commitment to all students and educators, reflecting their identities, cultures, and aspirations in what, how, and where they learn. Recently, she developed the Contributive Learning framework to help school communities design purposeful learning experiences, measure the outcomes that matter, and guide every student to academic success and well-being.
Joanne moved home to New Zealand in 2020 and founded the Kia Kotahi Ako trust to address educational, climate, and other important challenges facing Papatūānuku (our planet). A celebrated author, speaker, and change leader, Joanne’s insights are illuminated by continued, hands-on experience partnering with diverse countries, school communities, and students around the world.
Recognition and Accolades
- Education New Zealand: North America Advisory Boardmember
- Fellow for Sir Edmund Hillary Fellowship (2020)
- Board Member: Partners for Youth Empowerment
- Executive Committee Karanga: The Global Alliance for Social Emotional Learning and Life Skills
- Fellow at Salzburg Global Seminar (2018)
- ISC Research Edurupter (2022)
- Co-Author for Transforming Education Series at the Diplomatic Courier
- The Depthvale Detectives and the Great Education Crisis: A Guide to Contributive Learning in Schools (2020)
- Dive into Deep Learning (2019)
- Measuring Human Return (2018)
- Deep Learning (2017)
- Making the Important Measurable, Not the Measurable Important (2015)