Dr Fiona Partridge

BEd, MEdSt, EdD (UniSA)


At the start of 2022, Fiona was appointed as the CEN Professional Learning National Coordinator and took up the Interim Principal role for NICE from Mid March. In September 2022, Fiona was appointed as the Principal of the National Institute.

Beginning her teaching career as a K to 12 classroom Music specialist, Fiona has worked at Torrens Valley Christian School (TVCS, a CEN school) in Adelaide since 1990. In 1995, she was appointed as Head of Middle School. In 2005 Fiona was appointed the K-12 Coordinator of Studies at TVCS and held that position until the end of 2017.

Fiona completed her Masters degree with NICE in 2002. Fiona soon commenced working as an adjunct lecturer with the National Institute and also worked as a sessional lecturer with Tabor Adelaide in the B.Ed program. 

Fiona completed a Doctorate of Education with UniSA in 2010. Her thesis investigated Middle Years pre-service teacher education. At the start of 2018, Fiona took up the State Executive Officer Role for the South Australian CEN schools and commenced working part-time for the CEN National Office. 

Fiona loves living life in beautiful South Australia. She is interested in the history and culture of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people of Australia having discovered more about her own family Noongar heritage.

Fiona is married with two young adult sons who love their footy and music, and serving God in their local Church and work. Fiona enjoys coffee with friends, laughing, cycling, and ultra-trail walking/running. 

Rev. Dr Rod Thompson

BA, DipEd, LTh, MEd(Studies), PhD (Macq)

Emeritus Principal and PL Presenter

Rod has been married to Rosanne for over 40 years. They have four adult children and seven grandchildren. Rod has worked in both government and Christian schools as a High School History, English, and Biblical Studies teacher. In 2003 Rod completed a PhD at Macquarie University which explored the foundational impact of the Bible on the Christian schooling movement in Australia. Rod served as the National Principal/CEO of Laidlaw College in Auckland New Zealand from 2010-2015. In 2016 Rod and Rosanne moved back to Sydney to be closer again to their family. Rod is now part of the ministry team of the Springwood/Winmalee Presbyterian Church in Sydney’s Blue Mountains.

Dr Julia Verdouw

BA(Hons) PhD(Sociology)

Senior Lecturer and Research Coordinator

Julia commenced as Senior Lecturer for the National Institute in June 2021. She has worked as a lecturer and research fellow at the University of Tasmania since 2008. Through her undergraduate and PhD studies focused in sociology, she has lectured in a range of social science subjects, and has developed a strong qualitative research track record, particularly in affordable housing and sustainable community development. Her professional experience includes curriculum design, development and delivery for tertiary students, and project management of complex research projects including policy development for government, research bodies and stakeholders.

Julia is involved in the missional church movement, and as a Jesus follower she wants to see the grace and justice lived out by Jesus also lived out in her own life, street, and society. She leads a street-based missional community and is a ministry leader in her local church. She is a board member of The Tasmanian Bikes Collective, a youth mentoring program across southern Tasmania, and is a mentor to emerging leaders and young people. Fascinated by how we interpret Jesus’ life through our own cultural lenses, her heart in all her work is to point people to Jesus. Julia has called Tasmania home since 1998, where she lives in beautiful Hobart on the bush fringe with her family. She loves her proximity to the native forest, Kunanyi (Mt Wellington), and the river running below. She loves reading, writing, disappearing in the world of playing music, single malt scotch whiskies and rich conversation by a wood fire.

Dr Charlie Justins

BA, DipEd, MEd, BD, EdD(ACU)

Senior Lecturer

Charlie taught for 32 years, most of those at Tyndale Christian School in Blacktown, but with some time at Marrara Christian School in Darwin and a government secondary school in Sydney. Many of those years have involved the teaching of Mathematics, Commerce, Economics and Studies of Religion. He served at Tyndale as Mathematics coordinator through most of the 1980’s and as Deputy Principal in various configurations from 1991 to 2009. In 2011 he was appointed Principal at Mountains Christian College at Blackheath.

He completed a Doctorate in Education through the Australian Catholic University in 2001 on the topic “Christian Parent-Controlled Schools in Australia – Foundational Values and Prevailing Practices” and has interests in learning styles, educational leadership, maths education and research. He has worked as an adjunct lecturer with the National Institute since 2001 and has been appointed as Senior Lecturer from the beginning of 2010.

Belinda Leto

Academic Administration Coordinator

Belinda started working as the Academic Administration Coordinator for the National Institute in 2018. She completed a Bachelor of Teaching/Bachelor of Arts (Humanities) at the Australian Catholic University in 2014, majoring in History and minoring in English. She also has a Certificate III in Business Administration.

Belinda is involved in youth ministry in her local church and teaches ESL at GLO Ministries. She enjoys reading, walking, and puzzles.

Adjunct Lecturers

Dr Kate Bertram

EdD, MEd, DipEd, Dip. Museum Studies

Senior Lecturer

Kate is currently a consultant in the educational, training, policy and design sectors. She works directly with a range of independent schools in NSW, focusing on the areas of school improvement, development of new schools and understanding environments that support effective learning and working. Her approach uses design thinking processes, strengths coaching, data analysis and project leadership techniques.

Kate has thirty years leadership and management experience in P-12 schools, as well as extensive teaching experience in the fields of English/History/Visual Arts/Drama. She worked within the Christian Education sector throughout her school career, holding various roles as head of faculty, deputy principal and principal. Today she supports independent schools in the areas of strategic planning, effective improvement, project leadership and master-planning physical environments.

Her research interests continue are: school culture and design; effective workplace trends and strategies; the built environment; collaborative learning pedagogies; the nature of learning communities; transformational leadership; effective school improvement; programme evaluation; and creativity.

Dr Ken Dickens

DipTeach, ThC, MEdSt, PhD (UNSW)

Senior Lecturer

While Ken is currently a senior adjunct lecturer for the National Institute for Christian Education, his history of working with the Institute dates back to 1998 when he began as an adjunct lecturer. Ken was Principal of the Institute (2009-2016) and CEO of Christian Education National (2009-2015). Before entering the tertiary sector, Ken was a school teacher for 30 years. His teaching career was equally divided among public schools a Christian schools–the latter involving leadership positions. Although initially a primary teacher, Ken has taught right across the K-12 spectrum. His academic interests concern the theology and philosophy of Christian education and leadership. His PhD with UNSW dealt with the integration of Christian faith with vision and practice of two Christian school groups. Ken is a frequent speaker at conferences and has written many articles for Teacher Christian Journal and Nurture. He has often reviewed submissions for peer-reviewed publications. He has contributed chapters and co-edited Engaging the cultureChristians at work in education and Pointing the way: Directions for Christian education in a new millennium. His writings have recently been compiled in a publication entitled A tale of two worldviews.

Ken lives with his wife Jennie in the Blue Mountains of NSW. They have four adult children and lots of grandchildren. Ken enjoys reading, doing home projects, and watching rugby and cricket.

Dr Jill Ireland

AMusA, BA (Hons), MLitt, MEd, PhD

Senior Lecturer

Jill Ireland and her mining engineer husband Stephen have five children (born 1986 -1996), who all went to Bega Valley Christian College in its pioneering phase. Jill has been involved with the National Institute for Christian Education since 1995, as student, Council member and, more recently, Senior Lecturer. Most of her publications have been on literature for children and adolescents, with a particular interest in exploring worldviews.

Jill was one of the editors of Pointing the Way (2014) and Engaging the Culture (2014) and she is on the editorial committee for the Christian Teachers Journal. As Caltex Woman Graduate of the Year for Tasmania, Jill completed research for a Master of Letters on the poetry of John Donne and T.S. Eliot at Oxford University in 1983. She has a Masters in Education from the National Institute for Christian Education and a PhD on the influence of literary theories on the teaching of year 12 English. A number of the participants in her research highlighted conflicts between their Christian worldview and specific literary theories.

Jill has taught medieval to modern literature at the Bega campus of the University of Wollongong for 18 years. Her academic work has included lecturing in the BA/BEd program for Eastern College Australia and in the Masters program for NICE.

Jill and Stephen enjoy visiting their children and grandchildren, in the city and the central west. By having no television Jill finds time to play the oboe, read voraciously, and conduct knitting experiments.

Dr Chris Prior

BAgSc, BMin, MA(Theol), MEd, EdD

Senior Lecturer

Chris’ experience in Higher Education includes lecturing in undergraduate teacher education programs, in several Master of Education courses, and includes previously working as the Principal of the National Institute. Chris lectures in Worldview, Philosophy of Education, and in School Leadership. A Christian school principal, his scholarly interests include faith and learning, school culture, worldview, and school leadership. Chris’ doctoral studies were on leaders perceptions and practices of Christian schooling.

Miriam Lili

BEd, MEd, Postgrad Cert Eva

Adjunct Tutor

Miriam Lili is a Christian mother, Christian teacher and child of God! She believes that a Biblical worldview provides the most satisfactory and empowering answers to life’s questions. Miriam has taught in Christian schools in the Northern Territory, South Australia, New South Wales, and Queensland. She has completed her Masters of Education with the National Institute for Christian Education. Miriam enjoys her family, thrives on variety, and loves thinking outside the box.

Peter Muddle

BSc (Hons), Dip.Ed, MEd

Adjunct Lecturer

Peter is the Deputy Principal Teaching and Learning (K-12) at St Philip’s Christian College Gosford, on the NSW Central Coast. He has worked at the school for nearly 3 years. Prior to that, Peter worked at Covenant Christian School, Pacific Hills Christian School, and Bega Valley Christian College. During his time at St Philip’s Christian College Gosford, Peter has served in a Director of Studies role, and is involved in teacher development and professional development across the group of SPCC schools through the St Philip’s Teaching School. 

Peter’s key professional interests include setting the vision and mission for Christian schools, and seeing how foundational values lead to practice in the class room. He has worked with CEN and the National Institute for Christian Education in the area of developing Teachers of Mathematics, and was involved in the development of CEPA. Peter’s role at SPCC Gosford is directly related to curriculum, monitoring and providing feedback to the teachers in regard to what it means to teach from a Christian Perspective. He is currently working on a research project in regard to the development of teachers ready for the Christian school classroom. Peter has a passion for developing in his students an appreciation for the wonder and awe of God, through all of life. Peter often speaks at conferences on Teaching Christianly in Mathematics.

Peter and his wife Heidi, live in Terrigal on the NSW Central Coast. They have three teenage daughters. Emily works in the childcare industry, and Grace and Amy attend St Philip’s Christian College Gosford. When Pete is not hanging out with his family, you can most likely find him walking his dog at the beach or watching his beloved Manly Sea Eagles playing!

Chris Parker

BSc (Hons), MSc (Science Ed.)

Associate Lecturer

Chris previously served at Nepean Christian School for 12 years as teacher and coordinator (various roles). Prior to this he taught science and mathematics at Shire Christian School. After graduating with an honours degree in fluvial geomorphology, he served as an Associate Lecturer in Physical Geography at the University of Sydney. Chris is now an Associate Lecturer with the National Institute for Christian Education and teaches at Wycliffe Christian School.

While teaching science, mathematics, and design in Christian schools, Chris grew to love helping children to see the world through a gospel lens and to disciple in discernment of the captivating false stories of our culture. Chris is the author of the shortlisted book The Frog and the Fish: Reflections on Work, Technology, Sex, Stuff, Truth, and Happiness. His main research focus, in more recent years, has been technology education. Chris has a particular interest in technology and education and how the biblical worldview, centred in Christ, should shape how we approach technology as Christian educators.

Chris and his wife, Coco, live in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney. They have two children and a growing collection of ukuleles.

Tim Payze

BA, BTh, GradDipEd, MEd

Adjunct Tutor

Tim has been involved at Mount Evelyn Christian School since 2007, fulfilling various teaching roles in the secondary school. He has also had the opportunity to teach both EDU400 Biblical Foundations and EDU501 Worldviews and Educational Practice a couple of times to the staff of MECS and MDCS. Tim is currently embarking on his PhD, looking at the issue of Theological Anthropology – what does it mean to be human. He would love to engage in extended conversations with anyone on this topic!!

He also completed his MEd through the National Institute, a wonderful learning experience! He undertook a Minor Thesis on the educational philosophy of Charlotte Mason – another topic that he loves to talk about.

And then if you run out of things to talk about – there’s always the mighty Richmond Tigers!

Dr Christopher Rayner

BSc, BTeach(Hons), GradCertEd, PhD (UTAS)

Senior Lecturer

Christopher’s teaching and research interests have focused on the ways educators and learning communities promote access, participation, and achievement for all students and cater for student diversity and exceptionality, particularly students with Autism Spectrum Disorder and other developmental disabilities. Chris teaches EDU546 Equity and Inclusion: Educating Students with Disability, with the National Institute for Christian Education.

Chris and his wife, Naomi, have three wonderful children and are active members of Lighthouse on Federal, a Christian church in Hobart, Tasmania.

Dr Andrew Schmidt

BSc, BEdSt, MEdSt, GradDipEd, GradDipCurtSt, EdD

Senior Lecturer

Andrew has been connected with Christian Schools now for 35 years teaching from Yr 1 to Yr 12. He has pursued his interest in innovation, teacher development, alternative assessment, teaching methods and curriculum development and evaluation through a Master of Educational Studies program. In recent years Andrew has been heavily involved in setting up Vocational Courses and Structured Work Placements for students in years 9-12 in both Mount Evelyn and Mountain District Christian Schools. He has been working part time with the National Institute for Christian Education for the last 20 years. Andrew participates in many intensive sessions and enjoys meeting students from all over Australia. Since 2015, he has been the Director of Education studies at Eastern College Australia, developing, teaching and coordinating accredited initial teacher training.

Andrew is married to Kathy and has 5 grown up kids. His hobbies include growing vegies, skin diving, fishing, hiking, and bird watching. Andrew has lived in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne all his life.

Michael Street

BA, BEd, MEd, MRes

Adjunct Lecturer

Michael Street is the Director of Teacher Development at Green Point Christian College on the New South Wales Central Coast and a director of the History Teachers Association of NSW. He started his career in 2012 as an English teacher and steadily moved across to History teaching in 2016. Michael has taught in Christian and state schools in New South Wales and has also worked for Sekolah Pelita Harapan in Jakarta, Indonesia. He was the recipient of the 2019 NSW Premier’s History Teachers HTA Scholarship and a 2021 scholarship recipient in the Gandel Holocaust Studies Program for Australian Educators. As part of the NSW Premier’s Scholarship, Michael travelled to the USA and UK to conduct research into the historiography of witch hunts and witch trials. Michael speaks regularly at state and national conferences, delivering pedagogical support to History teachers on a range of topics, with special focus on the history of witch hunts, Apartheid in South Africa, and the Cold War.

Michael completed a Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Education through UNSW in 2012. He then completed a Master of Education with the National Institute for Christian Education in 2017 and a Master of Research in Education through Macquarie University in 2021. His research passions focus on the intersection between Christian Education, teacher wellbeing and educational psychology. Flowing out of this passion, Michael is currently working towards a PhD in Education at Macquarie University, exploring the relationship between the religious ethos of faith-based schools and sources of teacher self-efficacy.

Michael is married to Richelle and is the father of five children. Every day is busy, every day God is gracious.