Stories of Transformation

Penny Cook

Penny Cook has worked in early childhood education for almost forty years.  The journey began in a remote Aboriginal community in South Australia and has taken her to NSW, New York and back to the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands in north western South Australia. As part of the APY early years leadership team for 3 years Penny was privileged to work with remarkable Anangu cultural consultants Makinti Minutjukur and Katrina Tjitayi.  Together in this relationship they explored the ‘Hundred Languages’ and discovered the connections that exist between the oldest living culture and Reggio Emilia. Penny was one of two recipients of the 2018 Learning Teachers’ Project scholarship and attended the International Study Tour in Reggio Emilia.

Deb Mann

Deb Mann is a Wakka Wakka woman born in Queensland, she has lived in many places across this land and is currently living and working on Gadigal Land.

For over 35 years Deb has working in early education and community programs that are developed by and for local Aboriginal children and families. Deb holds University qualifications in early childhood teaching and education and is currently employed as a Cultural Facilitator in KU Children’s Services Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Programs team.

Deb advocates for local solutions that are designed and driven by Traditional Custodians and Knowledge Holders safeguarding that the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and communities are not lost in partnerships with larger organisations, and that ‘Community’ protocols and procedures are locally determined and followed as the way to self-determination.

Deb joined the 2017 Reggio Study tour to listen, learn and consider how the Reggio community values might align with Aboriginal community ways of teaching and rearing children from a strength and rights perspectives.

Micheál McCarthy

Senior Lecturer in Music, Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts

Director, Cottage Music Institute

Micheál spent 14 years studying at the Cork School of Music, Ireland. He is a graduate of University College Cork, Ireland and the Zoltán Kodály Pedagogical Institute of Music in Kecskemét, Hungary, where he studied under Péter Erdei. Micheál has held positions at the Canberra School of Music – Australian National University, the Tasmanian Conservatorium of Music – University of Tasmania, and the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts – Edith Cowan University. He offers a unique form of training to students of every age from 5 years through to university level.

In 1998 Micheál moved to Perth to establish Cottage School of Music. Since then, he has also held a position as lecturer in music at WAAPA. He is currently Senior Lecturer in Music, specialising in the areas of Aural Training, Music Theory, and Choral Conducting. He is the Director of Eneksis, a vocal ensemble which has gained a reputation as one of the finest choirs in Australia, and he is a Choral Director and Musicianship teacher at the Perth Choral Institute.

Micheál conducts regular workshops for teachers, students, and community organisations in Australia and overseas; many of his workshops have featured at national and international conferences and festivals. He also worked as a consultant to the Singapore Ministry of Education on the development of creativity through music education.

In 2010, Micheál received a Citation for Excellence in Teaching as part of the Australian Learning & Teaching Council’s ‘Australian Awards for University Teaching’.

Micheál undertook the role of ‘Classroom Music and Choir Mentor’ for the 3-part ABC Television documentary series, ‘Don’t Stop the Music’. This series showed the transformative effect that music can have on schools.

He is also the proud father of six children: Tadhg, Éilis, Conor, Rory, and twins, Flora & Adeline.

Jane Merewether

Jane Merewether is a postdoctoral researcher at Edith Cowan University in Perth Western Australia. Drawing on over 18 years as an early childhood teacher and a long- engagement with the educational project of Reggio Emilia, Jane’s research explores children’s relations with the world in the light of childhood studies, feminist materialisms, and environmental humanities. Jane deploys multimodal research approaches to investigate human and nonhuman entanglements.  Jane is particularly interested in the possibilities offered by young children’s propensity to animate the non-animal entities they encounter such as clouds, rocks and trees.