Governance, Leadership | Coomera Anglican College

Meet our Senior Leadership Team

As a Diocesan Owned College, the governing body of the College is Diocesan Council. Diocesan Council delegates certain governance functions to the College Council via the College’s Charter. The College Senior Leadership Team is lead by the Principal and provides leadership and management for the daily operations across the College.

Dr Mark Sly - Principal

Dr Mark Sly is the foundation Principal of Coomera Anglican College. Since the opening of the College in 1997, Dr Sly has been committed to leading a progressive educational environment that is future-focused, mentoring and guiding the College and wider community. This great achievement is not individual by any means – as nothing worthwhile ever is.
With qualifications in Marine Biology, Teaching, Educational Administration, Leadership and Theology, Dr Sly has heavily invested in his own education, personal and professional development – reinforcing his personal belief of the mindset of flourishing.

Dr Sly is an active member of the Australia College of Educators, Australian Council for Education Leaders and the Anglican Schools Commission, is chair of the Queensland Anglican Heads Advisory Committee and is the Immediate Past President of Anglican Schools Australia. Dr Sly works with a number of membership-based organisations to ensure that he is at the forefront of education philosophy, forever learning and continuing his own development so that he can continue to lead and mentor others.

Dr Sly’s philosophy around education and learning is to meet learners where they are at, and believes that with the right environment and circumstances individuals can learn most things. This has been the driving force behind Coomera Anglican College since its inception, and has led to the concept of Flourishing; to become the best version of yourself by educating the whole person; mind, heart, soul and strength.

This ethos has lead Dr Sly to an holistic approach to education by embedding a wide range of programs, cocurricular activities and high-performing centres at the College to ensure students develop academically, culturally, socially, emotionally, physically and spiritually as future leaders of tomorrow. 

Mr Mark Heaney -Deputy Principal 

Mark joined the College in 2003 having taught in both the state and independent sectors of South Australia and Western Australia.He holds a Bachelor of Arts, an Honours (History) Degree and a Diploma of Education from Adelaide University. Mark sees his purpose as encouraging students to view the world around them as a place of learning and discovery thereby equipping them to become lifelong learners. In particular he hopes that they will understand that: ‘the soul of the individual eternally hungers for the heroism of genuine Being, and that the willingness to take on that responsibility is identical to the decision to live a meaningful life.’ (Jordan Peterson).

Ms Virginia Warner - Deputy Principal - Strategy and Innovation

 Virginia returned to the College in 2021 to assume the newly created position, Deputy Principal – Strategy and Innovation, having served here at Coomera Anglican College as the Inaugural Head of Junior Secondary (2008-2011).  A passionate leader committed to lifelong learning and flourishing, she is a graduate of University of Western Australia (BPE/DipEd), Griffith University (MTM), the Australian Catholic University (Dip in Ed. Leadership) and she recently attended Harvard’s Principal’s Centre for a short course in Educational Leadership. At the masters and post-graduate level her studies focused on authenticity and values in leadership, interpersonal relationships, educational counselling, positive psychology, and organizational behaviours. Last year she gained qualifications through the Australian Institute of Company Directors (GAICD) and for the past ten years she has been a consultant and member of Governing bodies of Independent Schools while serving as a Deputy Principal – Head of Secondary School in a local Independent School.
Virginia has presented and conferences in Canada, New Zealand and in Sydney, Melbourne and here in Queensland on the topics of leadership, innovation in learning spaces and pedagogy and positive psychology. She is most passionate about building relationships of trust and deep care, positive learning cultures, and physical learning environments that foster flourishing. Committed to leading educational reforms to meet the learning and wellbeing needs of students and staff, Virginia currently mentors and coaches middle and emerging leaders across many schools. Virginia believes her life purpose is to nurture the individual and to build the leadership potential within others so they can flourish and share their gifts and talents to the upmost of their abilities. 

Mr Greg Golder - Head of Junior Secondary (7-9)

In 2018, Greg joined the College as Head of Junior Secondary. He is a born and bred Gold Coaster with 20 years teaching experience in both the state and independent systems, in Australia and England. He holds a Bachelor of Education and Master of Education. Greg believes a well-balanced approach to education that incorporates the arts, physical pursuits, faith and service, in conjunction with a rigorous academic programme, holds the  key to achieving success. The development of strong positive relationships between all stakeholders within the College community are fundamental to the growth of the individual and encourages stakeholders to get involved with College events when they can.

Mrs Carolyn Thistlethwaite- Head of Primary

Carolyn Thistlethwaite joined the College in July 2021 as Head of Primary. With over 20 years of experience in the education sector, Carolyn’s vision for the College is to lead a Christ centred learning community where learning is relevant and significant to their world.

With a Master of Education in innovation and leadership and most recently completing an Advanced Leadership course with NESLI, Carolyn is passionate about making sure learners are engaged and challenged in supportive and respectful ways here at the College.

Carolyn moved to the Gold Coast in 1998 when she began her career in education as a teacher at Coomera Anglican College.  After 5 years at the College, Carolyn moved on to pursue leadership roles at John Paul College and Trinity Lutheran College. 
Leading Trinity Lutheran College as the Head of Early and Junior Years has given Carolyn vast experience and with a love of learning herself and a passion for leading learning, Carolyn is excited to be back at Coomera Anglican College heading up the Primary Campus.
Carolyn has presented at workshops and conducted school-based evaluations through her previous role as a consultant with the International Baccalaureate Organisation (IBO). Carolyn has also written papers for educational magazines, most recently for AHISA’s magazine titled Leadership

As an avid Anglican Carolyn holds values of integrity, passion, community, creativity, and quality and is looking forward to guiding the College through their inquiry teaching and learning journey and helping the children to flourish in life.

Mrs Jenny Rees -Director of Early Learning Centre

In 2007, Mrs Jenifer Rees joined the College as Director of the Early Learning Centre having over 20 years Primary teaching experience in the independent system and 5 years as Foundation Director for St Mary’s Catholic Child Care Centre. She holds a Bachelor of Education, Advanced Diploma of Children’s Services, Diploma of Children’s Services and Certificate III in Children’s Services. In 2011, Jenny also accepted the responsibility as Manager of the Outside School Hours Care Service in the College. As Director Jenny has ensured that, the Early Learning Centre has achieved a rating of ‘Exceeding National Quality Standards’ in accordance with the Education and Care Services National Law and Education and Care Services National Regulations through the accreditation process.

Jenny has been a lead Director in the Education and Care Services for the Brisbane Anglican Diocese. Within this role, she has provided mentoring to fellow Directors in both parish and school based services. Jenny has a passion for high quality Early Childhood Education. She believes that children are creative, capable and intrinsically motivated to explore and discover their world and achieving great things.

As Director of the Early Learning Centre Jenny is responsible for all aspects of the management of the Centre. As part of her role Jenny supports opportunities for structured and free play experiences and facilitates an environment in which children can: explore, create, imagine, adapt, challenge, problem solve, believe and pursue their interests in order to reach their potential. As point of entry to Coomera Anglican College, Jenny aims to ensure that children and their families have a sense of ‘belonging to a Christian caring community’ that begins in the Early Learning Centre and continues through to Year 12.

Mr Alex Delaforce - Head of Teaching and Learning 

Alex is currently a member of the College Senior Leadership team and works as the Head of Teaching and Learning. He began his work at the College in 2008 as the Head of eLearning. In this role, he had responsibility for maintaining the IT infrastructure and for developing the College ICT and eLearning strategy. Before joining the Coomera Anglican College team, Alex was ‘Director of Technology’ and teacher of Technology and Mathematics at another of Queensland’s leading independent schools.

Alex seeks to support and promote innovation and excellence in teaching practice both generally and through the use of tools and technologies. His varied professional interests result from a wide range of experiences, including twenty-five years in secondary education as well as working in Australia’s electronics and computer industry. Before this, Alex worked as an aircraft simulator technician in the UK’s Royal Air Force (RAF). In this role, he worked with avionics, electronics, computer hardware, software, hydraulic systems and simulated aircraft systems. During this time, Alex first experienced being an educator after he was selected and trained as a technical instructor and curriculum writer for teaching simulator technicians.

Alex achieved his first tertiary degree qualification through distance education with the UK’s Open University while working in the RAF. After migrating to Australia in 1990, following a period of working in the electronics and computer industry, he returned to university and obtained his teaching qualifications.

With a professional aim of contributing to the improvement of education within schools, Alex explores the development of teaching and learning systems that sustainably promote teacher professional growth and high-quality teaching and learning. He is currently researching teacher resilience and how schools can support experienced teachers through times of change through the Doctor of Education programme at QUT.

Alex is proud to work at Coomera Anglican College and says on his blog, "I am one of those people whose work life, personal life and hobbies overlap. My motto is Live to Learn - though I’m not saying I am any good at it!!”

Mr David Dobbie - Business Manager

David Joined the College in December 2011, with a wealth of experience gained over nearly 20 years in the education sector.  In addition to this experience, David has extensive degree and industry qualifications, including that as a Chartered Accountant, and previously worked as an auditor with KPMG, which included the audits of many educational clients and a secondment to Hong Kong.  David has had experience across a number of schools and is passionate about education, his role in the College, and proud of the enormous contribution that his team (past and present) has made to the College.

The role of Business Manager overseas the educational support functions of the College including:  Finance, Compliance, Information Technology, Grounds and Maintenance, Project Management, and is part of the Senior Leadership Team working with College Council on good governance, strategic planning and master planning.

David is a passionate South Sydney Rabbitohs supporter, as well as a supporter of the San Francisco 49ers, supporting both teams for over 30 years.  He is also an avid photographer.  David is the proud dad of Jessica and Blake, who have been part of the College Community since Prep and ELC respectively.

Members of Diocesan Council as at 1 January 2021

The Most Reverend Dr Phillip Aspinall (Chair)

The Right Reverend Jeremy Greaves

The Right Reverend John Roundhill

The Right Reverend Cameron Venables

The Reverend Canon Nicole Colledge

The Venerable Geoffrey Hoyte

The Reverend Dr Rodney Wolff

The Reverend Dr Ceridwen Wynne

Ms Jennifer Basham

Ms Amy Norman

Mr Dan O’Connor

Judge Kevin Lapthorn

The Hon Justice Debra Mullins (Chancellor)

Mr David Sneesby

The Reverend Adam Lowe

The Hon Justice David Thomas (Deputy Chancellor)

The Most Reverend Dr Phillip Aspinall (President)

  • Mr Stephen Knott(Chairman) (Finance Committee) (Risk & Compliance Committee) (Infrastructure Committee)
  • Ms Jan Bartlett (Finance Committee)
  • Mrs Robyn Kronenberg
  • Prof Donna Pendergast (Infrastructure Committee)
  • Ms Pam Roberts (Risk & Compliance Committee)
  • Rev Canon Gary Smith
  • Mr Michael Temperton (Infrastructure Committee)
  • Dr Mark Sly (Principal) - ex officio

In circumstances where the directors of the governing body must be provided with a report about sexual abuse or likely sexual abuse the Diocesan Council has, pursuant to Section 366B of the Education (General Provisions) Act, delegated that role to Mr Greg Milles, the Director of Professional Standards within the Diocese