Staff profiles

Find out more about the leadership and research teams of the Marie Clay Research Centre.


Profesor Janet Gaffney

Janet Gaffney is a Professor of Educational Psychology-Literacy in the School of Curriculum and Pedagogy and Director of the Marie Clay Research Centre - LEAD in Early Literacy. She joined the University of Auckland from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where she held appointments in Special Education, Educational Psychology, and Curriculum and Instruction and was the Illinois Reading Recovery Director and University Trainer for eight years. At the University of Illinois, she held appointments as a Senior Scientist at the Center for the Study of Reading, Associate in the Center for Advanced Study, and a Faculty Fellow in the Academy of Entrepreneurial Leadership.

Jan’s commitment to children’s literacy learning began with her K-12 teaching experience with Native Americans in tribally operated schools. Jan’s current research foci are literacy learning and leading. She has been able to merge her literacy intervention research with the development of collaborative and innovative teacher leaders, who are transforming literacy outcomes of students and facilitating sustainable processes for system revitalisation. The framework of entrepreneurial teacher leading that has evolved from this line of research offers a theoretically coherent view of the evolution of educational leaders, who are teachers. For these teacher leaders, children’s learning is the centripetal force that drives their thinking and actions.

Executive Advisory Board

Courtney Cazden
Courtney Cazden is Charles William Eliot Professor of Education Emerita at Harvard University. She received her AB from Radcliffe College, her MEd from the University of Illinois, and her EdD from Harvard University. Cazden has received the American Educational Research Association Award for Distinguished Contributions to Research in Education and a fellowship from the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences. Cazden is interested in the development of oral and written abilities and in the functions of language in school and community. A former primary-school teacher, she also has taught expository writing in an evening course for adults returning to college. Cazden was the recipient of a Fulbright research fellowship to study Māori education in New Zealand. She also is an elected member of the National Academy of Education, and a past president of the Council on Anthropology and Education and of the American Association for Applied Linguistics. She has taught summer courses at the Bread Loaf School of English.

Mary Anne Doyle

Mary Anne Doyle, University of Connecticut, is Professor of Reading and Head of the Department of Curriculum and Instruction in the Neag School of Education. As a Reading Recovery Trainer and Director of the University’s Reading Recovery Center, she has served as co-PI with researchers at The Ohio State University and 18 additional universities on a U.S. Department of Education i3 Grant, Scaling Up Reading Recovery. Her work is published in the Yearbook of the National Reading Conference, the Journal of Reading Recovery, Research in the Teaching of English, the Journal of Education and the Journal of Investigative Medicine. She served as a contributing author to IRA’s Annual Summary of Reading Research for eight years, is the author of numerous monographs and book chapters, and is co-editor of the text Learning from Research of Reading/Writing Connections. Dr. Doyle is the Consulting Editor for the Marie Clay Literacy Trust and assists with the ongoing revision and re-publication of Marie Clay’s many texts. She currently serves as editor in chief of the Journal of Reading Recovery and has also served as an Area Editor of the Journal of Literacy Research. An active member of professional literacy associations, she has contributed as chair of numerous IRA committees (Print Media Award Committee, Outstanding Teacher Educator in Reading Award Committee, William S. Gray Citation of Merit Committee), president of the Reading Recovery Council of North America, and chair of the Executive Committee of the International Reading Recovery Trainers Organization. She has taught at Cambridge University, England, and presented at literacy conferences in Ireland, Australia, Thailand, Czech Republic, Russia, New Zealand, Germany, and Greece.

Peter H Johnston

Peter Johnston has worked as an elementary classroom teacher and as a reading teacher. He has published ten books and over 80 articles. His publications have appeared in journals such as Reading Research Quarterly, Journal of Literacy Research, Elementary School Journal, Reading Teacher, Language Arts, Harvard Educational Review, Teachers College Record, Journal of Educational Psychology, Contemporary Educational Psychology, Educational Psychologist, and Theory into Practice.

His most recent books are Opening Minds: Using language to change lives (2012, Stenhouse), RTI in Literacy – Responsive and Comprehensive (2010, International Reading Association), Choice Words: How Our Language Affects Children’s Learning (2004, Stenhouse), Critical literacy/critical teaching: Tools for preparing responsive teachers (2006, Teachers College Press, with Cheryl Dozier & Rebecca Rogers), and Reading to Learn: Lessons from exemplary fourth grade classrooms (2002, Guilford, with Richard Allington). Choice Words, now in three languages and with close to 225,000 copies in print, was Scholastic Magazine’s #1 choice for book from the past decade every teacher should read.

Johnston has received numerous awards for his work including the Albert J. Harris Award from the International Reading Association for his contribution to the understanding of reading disability and the State University of New York Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Research. Most recently, the Literacy Research Association honored him with the P. David Pearson Scholarly Influence Award, citing his book Choice Words as having “demonstrably and positively influenced literacy teaching in classrooms and districts nationally.” He is a member of the Reading Hall of Fame.

In his current research he investigates the consequences of teaching decisions, particularly language choices, for the kinds of literacy children acquire, how teachers and students build productive learning communities, and the implications of focusing on engagement.

P David Pearson

P David Pearson is a faculty member in the programs in Language and Literacy and Human Development at the Graduate School of Education at the University of California, Berkeley, where he served as Dean from 2001-2010. Current research projects include Seeds of Science/Roots of Reading--a Research and Development effort with colleagues at Lawrence Hall of Science in which reading, writing, and language as are employed as tools to foster the development of knowledge and inquiry in science--and the Strategic Education Research Partnership--a collaboration between UC Berkeley, Stanford, and the San Francisco Unified School District designed to embed research within the portfolio of school-based issues and priorities. He also works with teachers in middle and high schools in New York City to figure out how to promote deeper learning as teachers try to navigage the new Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts. Prior to coming to Berkeley in 2001, he served on the faculties of education at Michigan State, Illinois, and Minnesota.

Awards include the 1989 Oscar Causey Award (NRC) for contributions to reading research, the 1990 William S. Gray Citation of Merit (IRA) for contributions to reading research and practice, the 2005 Albert J. Harris Award (IRA) for the year's best reading disability publication, and the 2003 Alan Purves Award (NCTE) for a publication impacting practice. In 2006 the University of Minnesota honored him with the Alumni Outstanding Achievement Award, and in 2010 AERA presented him Distinguished Contributions to Research in Education Award. In 2012, the Literacy Research Association established the P. David Pearson Scholarly Influence Award to be given annually to honor research that exerts a long-term influence on literacy practices and/or policies.

He is the founding editor of the Handbook of Reading Research now in its fourth volume, he edited Reading Research Quarterly and the Review of Research in Education, and he has served on the Editorial Review Board for some 20 educational journals. Professor Pearson received his B.A. in History from the University of California, Berkeley, taught elementary school in California for several years, and went on to complete his Ph.D. in Reading Education at the University of Minnesota. He completed post-doctoral study at the University of Texas, Austin and Stanford University.

Janet Scull

Associate Professor Janet Scull is an experienced language and literacy educator, teaching in both graduate and postgraduate programs at Monash University Australia. Her research interests focus on the areas of language and literacy acquisition, literacy teaching and assessment and teaching practices that support the continuity of children’s literacy learning across early childhood settings and the early years of schooling. Janet has contributed to the design, implementation and evaluation of approaches to early literacy teaching, for students from a range of culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. She is also a Reading Recovery Trainer and continues support the implementation of this early literacy intervention.

Partnership Board

Dr Aaron Wilson

Aaron Wilson is Associate Dean Research for the Faculty of Education and Social Work, a senior literacy lecturer in the School of Curriculum and Pedagogy, and an Associate Director of the Woolf Fisher Research Centre. His research interests are in interventions to address disparities in education, disciplinary literacy teaching in secondary schools, subject English, learning in digital learning environments and teacher professional development. Aaron led the literacy strand of the Starpath project since 2011 and was the Principal Investigator and National Coordinator for the Secondary Literacy Project 2009-2011.

Dr Christine Boocock

Dr Christine Boocock is a Reading Recovery Trainer and Project Director for National Reading Recovery, which sits within the School of Curriculum and Pedagogy at the Faculty of Education and Social Work. Christine is the elected New Zealand representative on the Executive Board of the International Reading Recovery Trainers Organization. She earned her doctorate from the University of Auckland in 2012. The title of her PhD thesis is: Comparing the Effects of Narrative and Expository Texts on Teacher Instruction and Child Processing in Junior Guided Reading.

Graham McEwan

Graham McEwan graduated from the University of Auckland in 1978 and was appointed to the position of Field Editor by the New Zealand branch of the British educational publishing company Heinemann Educational Books (HEB). He was assigned to work with Marie Clay on the first edition of The Early Detection of Reading Difficulties: A Diagnostic Survey with Recovery Procedures and continued to work with Marie on each of her new books and new editions for the next 29 years. Over time his responsibility enlarged from an editorial to a broad publishing role which gave Marie continuity of control over her publications and enabled the establishment of The Marie Clay Literacy Trust in 1997. The Marie Clay Literacy Trust owns Marie Clay’s intellectual property and supports literacy research, aspects of Reading Recovery and teacher professional development. Before her death in 2007, Marie invited Graham to become chair of The Marie Clay Literacy Trust and widened the Trust’s responsibilities to include the management and revision of her publications. This work continues today.

Heather Bell

Heather Bell, retired principal of Rosebank school, a highly multicultural school in Avondale Auckland, is a former Education Review Officer, and an Inspector of Primary Schools. She is currently secretary of the Auckland Literacy Association and has twice been president of the New Zealand Literacy Association. She served a three-year term on the Board of Directors for the International Literacy Association and has convened many national and international literacy conferences. In June (2016) she was honoured with a Queens Birthday Award, being made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit. In July 2017, Heather was elected and inducted into the Reading Hall of Fame. She considers herself an extremely lucky person to have been supported by so many deeply committed and caring role models.

Professor Helen Hedges

Professor Helen Hedges is Head of School for Curriculum and Pedagogy at the Faculty of Education and Social Work. Helen's research explores children’s and teachers’ interests, knowledge (both formal and intuitive) and learning in the contexts of early childhood education and teacher education. Driving this is curiosity about the nature of a co-constructed interests-based curriculum in early childhood education, particularly the decisions that teachers make about which children's interests are chosen to create curriculum with. Helen has contributed to theorising about children’s and teachers’ knowledge and interests through frameworks, such as funds of knowledge (González, Moll, & Amanti, 2005), and communities of inquiry (Wells, 1999). She is currently publishing with colleagues on conceptualising and exemplifying “working theories”, one of two major outcomes of the early childhood curriculum, Te Whāriki.

Dr Rae Si‘ilata

Ko Tainui, ko Te Arawa nga waka. Ko Tararua te pae maunga. Ko te Ōhau, ko te Ōtaki nga awa. Ko Ngati Raukawa, ko Tūhourangi nga iwi. Ko Ngāti Kikopiri te hapū. Ko Otaki te turangawaewae. Ki te taha o toku matua, no Otaki ahau. Ki te taha o toku whaea, no Fiti, no Savusavu ahau. Tena koutou katoa. Ni sa bula vinaka.

Dr Rae Si‘ilata is a Lecturer in Biliteracy-Pasifika/TESSOL in the School of Curriculum and Pedagogy, Faculty of Education and Social Work. Rae's recent research interests centre on effective language and literacy practice for Pasifika bilingual learners in primary schooling, and on professional learning and development facilitation for linguistically and culturally responsive teaching and learning. In 2014, she completed her doctoral studies on Pasifika student success in English-medium education. Formerly a primary ESOL/classroom teacher and principal, Rae is interested in bilingual/biliterate academic outcomes, language teaching and learning, and is committed to teacher professional development in bilingualism/biliteracy and TESSOL.

Cath Rau

Specialises in indigenous language and culture regeneration and in particular, Māori medium language/literacy development in Aotearoa/New Zealand. Has developed or contributed to a wide range of significant Māori language/literacy development initiatives across all sectors of education from early childhood to tertiary. Providing professional development support to educators in Māori medium settings to ensure that the developing bilinguality (Māori/English) of students enrolled in these programmes is supported pedagogically.

Collaborative Projects research staff

Dr Sophie Tauwehe Tamati

Dr Sophie Tauwehe Tamati is a Senior Lecturer in Te Puna Wānanga School of Māori and Indigenous Education. Tauwehe’s research focuses on TransAcquisition Pedagogy (TAP) for emergent bi/multilinguals. In her doctoral study, she theorised, trialled and evaluated the effectiveness of TAP in raising the achievement of Kura Kaupapa Māori students in academic English. Tauwehe's research also includes the development and evaluation of translingual Virtual Reality Apps as pedagogical tools for Second Language Acquisition. Tauwehe will provide advice on appropriate Kaupapa Māori principles, Mātauranga Māori knowledge, tikanga Māori processes and reo Māori content to guide the research.

Nola Harvey

Nola Harvey is an honorary academic in the School of Curriculum and Pedagogy. As senior lecturer she specialised in the area of languages and literacies in the early years; her research includes the bilingual experiences of bi/multilingual children and teachers in early years educational settings, children’s rights, and refugee issues. Nola recently completed a collaboration with four partnership centres as a researcher in the Teaching and Learning Research Initiative project, Supporting learning in the early years for children who learn in more than one language: Developing deeper understandings for practice, (2013–2015) and as a team member in Ministry of Education’s Pasifika New Entrant Pilot Programme, Gālulue Fa‘atasi (PNEP) 2014–2015. Nola continues to provide professional development and consultancy in the areas of bilingualism and biliteracy in the early years, diversity and discrimination, and the place of oral languages in young children’s lives.

Dr Rae Si‘ilata (see above)