Inspiring Engagement - Realising Potential

Dates for 2020 Board Meetings

  • 30 July (moved from 6 August)
  • 10 September
  • 29 October
  • 3 December

Jody O’Connell

BOT Chairperson 

I am thrilled to be the Board Chair of Central Auckland Specialist School (CASS). Jayden, my-eight year-old son attends the Oranga Satellite class, and Zoe, my nine-year-old daughter attends Stonefields School. I have a keen interest in school improvement because I was a facilitator to primary schools in Auckland for 10 years and this is what was the motivation for me to apply for a board position. I have a strong belief that all children can learn, and it is the adaptable teacher who makes this happen. I am currently relieving in Bairds Mainfreight School, Otara, which I enjoy immensely. My husband Dave, the children and I, spend a lot of our time in Pauanui in the Coromandel; it has a lot of flat terrain and Jayden loves cycling around in his bike trailer. CASS is a unique school with a very dedicated staff and community, and my vision is to continue to build and promote the expectations of the community for the best learning and teaching for our students.

Melissa Bell

Parent Trustee 

Helen Bayldon

Staff Trustee 

Arna Suttie

Parent Trustee

Maria Aka

Parent Trustee 

Mahrukh Khan

Parent Trustee 

I am an educator and building influence through communication is central to my role; I view my parent trustee role at CASS as vital to building bridges of understanding between the parent and the school community. Having a child with autism has highlighted for me the importance of establishing significant networks that can provide long-term support and fulfilment to our special needs group. I come from diversity and I understand the challenges that may be faced by fringe communities and the possible potential that may be realized with the pertinent identification of needs and the timely support to be organised.

As a parent trustee, I have gained a parallel community of my own and, one, which also allows me to carry out my sense of purpose towards serving the community, maintain and develop relationships, and specifically to give voice and recognition to our special needs group.

My area of study also aligns with my passion for community-building through knowledge sharing. My cross disciplinary doctoral research has a humanist focus and looks at the power and value of alternative points of view. For our special needs community, it is important that we develop and receive the necessary knowledge and support for cultural inclusion, matching a healthy self-perception, and a mutually exclusive, social profile. The Treaty of Waitangi is an inspiring example for me of co-existence, mutual respect and of a sense of difference that unmistakably brings specific value and significance to a thriving society.