The Team

Anna Houston

I am the first child of Dutch immigrants with English as my second language. I have three siblings all of whom found school a struggle and did not enjoy or succeed at school. They and their children live with the glass ceiling that lack of engagement and success in school brings in adult life while being successful outside school.

I worked hard and was the first in the family to obtain a Tertiary education qualification. I have been a Teacher, Team Leader teaching New Entrants to year 9, a Youth Worker with teenagers for 10 years, a principal of a Private secondary school for a

‘At risk’ teenagers not engaged in mainstream schooling. I have also worked as a Student Achievement Practitioner with the NZ Ministry of Education /‘Te Mahau’ a Resource Teacher for Learning and Behaviour (RTLB) in Northland and South Auckland, and a Cluster Manager for 26 RTLB in South Auckland New Zealand.

My interest in teaching was always neurodiverse learners, literacy acquisition leading me to do my SPELD training in my SENCo and Literacy Team Leader roles in schools I worked in. I have worked in both rural and urban settings.

I am proud to be an ‘Agility with Sound ‘ Facilitator because I am passionate about how this programme delivers literacy learning to those who have been unsuccessful in learning to read and write. It delivers literacy learningin a clear, simple, systematic, cumulative and pattern based format. It does NOT confuse students with rule based learning with its many exceptions instead delivers explicit teaching which provides the multiple modes and hours of practice required for these students to embed and succeed often for first the first time in their schooling. Teachers and Teacher Aides are provided with everything they need to to teach and support their own learning as they go.

Betsy Sewell

Betsy is based in Canterbury

I have a varied background, and have developed a set of skills that I have brought together to create this programme.

I have a strong background in research, having once worked as a research anthropologist. I have always had a love of writing. I have been a classroom teacher. And I am the mother of two children who were immersed in books as toddlers, but did not learn to read in school.

To bring all this together, I enrolled at Massey University as a distance student, studying the science of reading and reading disabilities at post-graduate level, and have followed new research ever since. I am driven by the evidence from this huge body of research.

I am especially grateful to the children I have worked with, who have taught me how to turn research and evidence into activities that appeal to them, that engage them, and give them the will to persevere. They taught me how to demonstrate that they are not stupid, but have yet to learn what they are supposed to do in order to read and spell.

Betsy Sewell 

ph 027 722 3352

Denny Newburn

Denny is based in Gisborne

Denny has been a teacher since 1976, predominantly in secondary schools but also in intermediate schools and schools for at-risk students. She has always been passionate about literacy and spent a number of years as a literacy leader in a secondary school, three years as a Literacy facilitator for Learning Media and another ten years as a SENCo in a large, South Auckland secondary school. She believes literacy skills are essential for success in education and in life generally, but also that addressing literacy for at-risk students goes a long way towards getting them back on track.

Denny has published about 30 text books, mostly E.L.L. and some readers.


Kerrie Lomas

Kerry is based in Wellington

                                  Ko Moehau me Te Aroha te Maunga
                                  Ko Wanganui o Hei te Moana
                                  Ko Te Arawa te Waka
                                  Ko Ngati Hei te Iwi
                                  Ko Kerrie Lomas toku ingoa


During my career as a teacher I taught many many year levels – from Y1 -10.
Most recently I was Resource Teacher Learning and Behaviour Cluster Manger for Cluster 2 based in Whangarei. Prior to that I was GLU (Resource Teacher Guidance and Learning who transformed to RTLB in 1999). I was also honored to have been the second National Coordinator Māori for RTLB.
My passion in education is the belief that all mokopuna have the ability to reach their potential and deserve to be provided with the tools that enable them to do so. This includes ensuring that they have the best teachers and the best resources to help them in their pathway to success.
I have been on many MOE Reference and Writing Groups to share the reality of every day life for Teachers and Students and the considerations that must be acknowledged when introducing something new.

Sandy Hix

Will be joining the Team early in 2024 and is based Canterbury.