Helen Barrett


Helen joined Tombolo in July 2021. She is an accomplished educator with 20 years of experience working with neurodiverse students in Australia and the United Kingdom. Her background has centred around supporting vulnerable students, including those with diverse needs and abilities. Helen has experience working with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Attachment Disorder, Depression, Anxiety and Pathological Demand Avoidance. 

Helen was formerly the Principal at the Cheshire School, a specialist intervention school in Glen Waverley. Due to Helen’s expertise and success, she also assists numerous schools in developing their behaviour management strategies. She maintains close relationships with various specialists, outside agencies and parents.

Helen is excited to be leading a start-up school and forging new opportunities for families.

In her spare time, Helen enjoys paddle boarding, kayaking and making the most of the Australian outdoor lifestyle.

Alex Newman

Assistant Principal

Alex has worked in specialist schools for over 13 years in the UK, New Zealand and Australia. During that time, he has held various roles such as Teaching Assistant, Sports Coach, Leading Teacher and Head of Student Support and Wellbeing

He has an extensive background in working with learners with ASD. This has ranged from engaging and supporting non-verbal communicators who displayed incredibly challenging behaviours, and students with complex needs alongside their ASD diagnosis, to working with gifted and talented 2e learners in ASD resource bases.

Ensuring that all students can engage and develop the fundamental skills necessary for them to progress and become independent learners regardless of their abilities or backgrounds underpins Alex’s pedagogy.

Alex has a strong focus on student well-being in the classroom. He believes in building strong and meaningful relationships with all of his students. Developing trust and understanding helps students to feel comfortable and safe in their learning environment.

As a Forest Leader, Alex has a strong connection with the outdoors. He is looking forward to having the opportunity to bring some of his outdoor learning to Tombolo through schemes such as the Duke of Edinburgh Award.

Fraser Kirton

Primary Teacher

Fraser has recently moved to Melbourne from regional Western Australia. He is a passionate educator, advocate and supporter of the rights of all people, particularly those who have been marginalised.

Fraser has worked across a range of educational settings, including special development schools, an autism program in a mainstream high school, and as a visiting teacher for students with vision impairments. Outside of school, he has also worked in disability advocacy, with a focus on supporting people to engage with the Disability Royal Commission.

Fraser strongly focuses on social-emotional learning and well-being and recognises that students need to feel safe, calm, and comfortable before being ready to learn.

Fraser loves gardening, singing, and listening to country music in his spare time.

Josh Grierson

Mathematics Teacher

Josh has recently emigrated from the U.K. to sunny Melbourne. He is a passionate educator, who aims to elevate the teaching of mathematics for all students.

With a particular focus on project-based learning, Josh leans on his; academic background in Law and Politics, professional background in events and finance, and his fervour for all things nerdy to bring maths to life with contemporary, relevant and highly engaging activities that foster collaboration, curiosity and autonomous learning. 

Josh has worked in inner-city London schools where diverse learners have diverse needs and strives to be a positive role model for students. His fascination for mathematics started at a young age, from playing chess in the local library to building solar system models.

Josh has always had a unique insight into the application of maths and, more broadly, problem-solving. He strives to demonstrate the explicit link between mathematics, other academic subjects and the interests of his students whenever possible. 

Josh believes that everyone has an untapped potential to develop mathematical thinking and that this may manifest through near-infinite possible pathways. 

Rick Price

Art / Music / Design + Technology Teacher

Rick began his educational career lecturing in Art & Design at Monash Uni and at UWW, USA. He continued with Monash University for a further 10 years as an MFA Assessor; all the while, exhibiting as a practising artist and performing, composing and recording. He pursued a significant educational career through the Independent School, State School and International School systems. 

This led to a growing interest in education and the challenged, disengaged youth, high-functioning autism & creativity and the educational, and integration process; and ILPs, (Individual Learning Plans), becoming increasingly significant.

Ricks feels it is important that students have a holistic experience that helps them develop their creative and musical strengths. He wants the Tombolo community to promote students, staff, and the school through exhibitions, musical performances, recordings, and virtual environments.

Ricks feels it is important that students have a holistic experience that helps them develop their creative and musical strengths. He wants the Tombolo community to promote students, staff, and the school through exhibitions, musical performances, recordings, and virtual environments.

Helen Fricker

Primary Teacher/Curriculum Writer

Helen is part of the teaching team at Tombolo, and mentors new teachers. She also designs learning and curriculum content in collaboration with the team.

Originally from the UK, Helen emigrated to Melbourne over two years ago. With her, she brought 20 years of experience from various roles in Early Years to the end of the Primary Phase. Helen has worked as a Special Educational Needs Advisor supporting families during the early identification phase and as a teacher in both mainstream and specialist schools. She recently spent two years teaching at Cheshire School, a specialist setting for students with social, emotional and behavioural needs.

Helen describes herself as a kind and nurturing person. As an educator, she believes that her success in the classroom derives from the student-teacher relationships she fosters. Her passion is reconnecting students to the world of education and empowering them to believe that what they offer has value. Helen loves bringing a fun and creative approach to teaching and learning.

In her spare time, Helen loves spending time with her family, walking her dog Frankie, and enjoying Melbourne’s café culture.

Kim McClounan

Specialist Intervention Teacher

Kim has worked in education for almost 30 years, with 20 of those being in London, UK.

Throughout her career, Kim has supported many students individually through various programs and always endeavours to ensure they have a voice in the support they receive. She also works as a teacher at a specialist primary school in Victoria for students with significant social, emotional and behavioural challenges.

Kim has also recently completed a Bachelor of Creative Arts, in Photography (with Distinction) and is an avid photographer.

Daniel Lewis

Sports Coach and Teaching Assistant

Dan has worked in specialist schools for over nine years as a Sports Coach and Teaching Assistant. He started his career in the UK, and in 2015 Dan travelled to Tasmania to play semi-professional football, where he stayed for three years before coming to Melbourne.

Dan was coaching tennis at the young age of 13. After starting as a tennis coaching assistant, he eventually became a qualified tennis coach. Dan is passionate about supporting students with negative experiences in mainstream settings after experiencing similar challenges.

After struggling in school, Dan was diagnosed as dyslexic when he started university, which led him to pursue his interest in improving student experiences and outcomes.

Craig Fraser

Sports Coach and Teaching Assistant

Craig brings over 10 years of experience in teaching and sports leadership, in the UK and US, to the sports coaching team at Tombolo.

He is highly proficient in leading recreational and educational activities and draws on a wide range of experience at international training camps and coaching programmes.

As a Counsellor, Sports Coach and Recreation Director Craig has worked with children of all ages and abilities. He prides himself on building strong relationships with every student he works with.

His strengths include a strong work ethic with a positive attitude and impeccable attention to detail. Craig looks forward to using his ability to build long-lasting relationships with students, parents and colleagues, to contribute to the successful growth of the Tombolo Academy.

Chris Hall

Occupational Therapist

Chris has extensive Paediatric Occupational Therapy experience in disability and developmental delay, Early Childhood Intervention and Community Health. She is passionate about supporting the well-being of children, their families, carers and teachers.

Chris understands the importance of each child’s learning, play and home environments and endeavours to use her OT skills to help each child participate and engage with everyday tasks.

Chris is very excited about working in Tombolo’s teaching and learning environment. In particular, Chris is interested in helping each student to be able to engage in learning, socialising and other activities that are meaningful to them.

Pravin Ramdany

Business Manager

Pravin arrived in Australia in 1988 to pursue further education. He was blessed to meet an Australian couple who helped and supported him along his journey to build a new life in Australia.

Pravin brings to the role of Business Manager over 16 years of commercial experience in various industries including 15 years in the Housing sector, 10 years in the education sector (Primary, secondary and post-secondary), as well as over 15 years of experience as a board member of several not-for-profit organisations.

He has a passion for the community, and he is currently a board member for two Not for Profit Organisations.

Melissa NeSmith

Senior Administration Assistant

Melissa has training and experience in office administration, special education (K-12) and middle-level education. Melissa worked for many years as an executive assistant in an organisation that provided rehabilitative training for people with disabilities in WA.

Melissa also co-taught students with learning disabilities in a mainstream middle school in the US. More recently, Melissa worked as an administration officer at a specialist primary school in Victoria for students with significant social, emotional and behavioural challenges. Besides Tombolo, Melissa also works as ed support in classrooms in other specialist schools, ranging from kindergarten to Year 12.

All these experiences have taught Melissa that almost everyone can learn, given the right guidance and environment. She likes to tell her own children that smart/fast alone doesn’t get the assignments done…it takes hard work and perseverance…much like the tortoise (in the story of The Tortoise and the Hare), who wins in the end through sheer perseverance!

Jane Thien

Administration Assistant

Jane is a part of the administrative team; she supports the Business Manager with administration and finance.

Jane holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree. After graduating from university, she worked in the auditing field in Hong Kong and Sydney for ten years before taking a break to raise her daughter. In July 2021, Jane undertook further training at TAFE to familiarise herself with the current accounting trends, practices and changes in legislative compliance requirements. Jane is now excited to return to the workforce and apply her experience, knowledge and skills.  

Jane spends her spare time volunteering as a bookkeeper for a community organisation, painting and baking. She is excited to join the Tombolo team.