Management Committee

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Meganbio3Megan Gilmour – Chair

Megan left her career in international and community development in 2010 when her 10-year-old son became critically ill, and his teenage sister was struggling with the way life had changed. As Megan witnessed her son’s painful and long separation from his friends and learning, she made a commitment to changing the way schools see their responsibility to kids facing serious illness. The barriers Megan encountered in trying to keep her son connected to his school fuel this commitment, as does an appreciation of the basic rights of access, equity and education for all. She believes that learning and belonging offer us dignity, now, and hope in a future. Megan is passionate about seeing the experience of families and the voice of sick kids move to the forefront in shaping ways for continuous school connection. She hopes for the possibility of joining this to the collective wisdom of educators and health professionals for partnerships that make a difference in the lives of sick kids. megan.gilmour@missingschool.org.au

Hugh bio2Hugh Dixon – Treasurer

Hugh is drawing on his experience in having supported his child through a life-threatening illness, and adding honours and postgraduate studies in law and governance to serve the objectives of MissingSchool. Inherent in Hugh’s personal experience is an understanding of the multiple burdens and stresses faced by families and carers in dealing with the serious medical circumstances of their child. In addition to the critical illness, there is care of the sick child’s siblings, grief and trauma, strain on relationships, geographic relocation, financial hardship, personal health issues, and so on. He sees a continuing relationship with the school community as critical to maintaining some kind of “normal” for kids and families in circumstances of serious illness. Hugh believes that we can achieve better outcomes if everyone upholds their part. hugh.dixon@missingschool.org.au

MeganJackson2Megan Jackson – Secretary

Megan comes to MissingSchool through her lived experiences as a parent of young people with chronic and terminal illness, and as a classroom teacher. While her children were in high school, Megan realised that her family’s experiences of the educational, social and emotional impacts of missing school could not possibly be happening in isolation. This realisation drove her to complete a Masters in Inclusive Education, and she is currently analysing the data for her PhD. That research investigates the impact of video conferencing on motivation and engagement for students with chronic illness. Megan has taught in mainstream secondary educational settings and in Teacher Education at her local university. She is currently teaching in her local Hospital School. Megan passionately believes that connection to school is critical for all children and young people, and that access to the classroom for those battling serious illness is crucial in maintaining that connection. megan.jackson@missingschool.org.au

cathybioCathy Nell – Public Officer

Cathy is the Mum of two children, aged 21 and 13.  Her younger child is a survivor of childhood cancer and is now 10 years from diagnosis.  Cathy became interested in learning issues resulting from cancer therapy, after her son had a cord blood transplant in 2005 and a second transplant in 2010 for relapsed Acute Lymphoblastic Leukeamia.  After her son’s first transplant Cathy joined a US  listserv for cancer parents and became more aware of the lack of services for children in the Australian setting. Cathy met Gina and Megan as their children were treated at the same centre in Sydney.  The three decided to form MissingSchool in 2012, recognising that there was no clear pathway or voice for parents advocating for their child’s need for educational support and connection. cathy.nell@missingschool.org.au

GJM image for web bioGina Meyers – Co-founder, Former Committee Member

Gina’s background is in science management, but her interest turned to teaching after her children started school. In 2008, Gina’s son was diagnosed with a critical and life-threatening illness which kept him in and out of hospital – and out of school – for around 18 months. During this period, although she was no longer working, Gina preserved her sanity by maintaining her volunteer involvement in her children’s classrooms. When her son’s health stabilised, she made a career change and moved full-time into education. She now works as a classroom teacher, and is firmly committed to ensuring that the needs of all students are met, even when they can not attend school. Gina is proud to be a founding member of MissingSchool, but dreams of a day when all kids with serious health conditions receive full support from their schools as a matter of course and the Association can be wound up. gina.meyers@missingschool.org.au

Experience . Evidence . Voice . Partnership

Our Team

MissingSchool is well placed to execute our mission and objects. Members of the Management Committee have personal experience with supporting seriously sick kids and their siblings and are using this to shape MissingSchool’s contribution.

Through our personal and professional experience, the MissingSchool Management Committee has established connections and networks within the health and education communities that will assist MissingSchool to progress our objectives. Importantly, these connections will help us take the partnership approach MissingSchool intends for working with and informing the efforts of others in keeping seriously sick kids connected to their school during times of long and/or recurrent absence.

Two people on MissingSchool’s Management Committee are members of the Sydney Children’s Hospital Kids’ Cancer Centre Parents Advisory Committee. One has been the consumer representative for a kids Education Connectivity research project run by the Sydney Children’s Hospital Behavioural Sciences Unit.

MissingSchool also draws on the expertise of a range of people who advise and support the efforts of the Management Committee. In time, MissingSchool will formalise this Advisory Group to guide our efforts in building MissingSchool’s membership and online community, ethically engaging kids and families, researching, change agency in education settings, education-health sector collaboration, advocacy, identifying appropriate support models and technology, marketing, funding and financial management.

Add your experience to ours by becoming a member of MissingSchool. Membership is open and free. If you are interested in finding out more, please send us an email.

Our Combined Experience

The MissingSchool management committee have combined experience and skills in the following areas:

  • education governance, institutions, delivery, teaching and special education needs
  • advocacy in public health settings
  • child protection
  • participatory community development
  • research and applied research
  • training and capacity development
  • public-private partnerships
  • program development and management
  • program monitoring and evaluation
  • public sector tendering and grant development
  • procurement and financial management
  • corporate governance and risk management, including for not-for-profit entities
  • organisational quality assurance
  • occupational health and safety
  • working with government, education and research institutions, private sector and community organisations and associations
  • online community and membership development