PO Box 46, Calen Qld. 4798
email: admin@spera.asn.au

Life Members

SPERA awards life memberships to individuals to recognise their exceptional contribution to rural education. Recipients of a SPERA life membership are displayed below.


Sheila King
Sheila retired from the University of Southern Queensland where she managed the placements for all pre-service educators. Following teaching appointments in rural Queensland, Sheila worked with pre-service educators preparing them for rural and remote placements and promoting the benefits of these experiences. She has been an active member of SPERA since attending her first conference in 1987.

Sheila has been a Conference Convenor, member of the SPERA executive, including President for 10 years and instigated the prestigious Australian Rural Education Award. In retirement Sheila loves to travel both internationally and in Australia, taking every opportunity to visit rural and remote locations. Sheila also enjoys patchwork and quilting, sourcing fabric wherever she travels.


colin_boylan_webDr Colin Boylan
Colin Boylan is a Senior Lecturer in Education in the School of Education at Charles Sturt University in Wagga Wagga. A major part of his teaching is with pre-service students where he teaches the rural education subject that is part of the primary and secondary courses at CSU. He has been an active member of SPERA since its foundation in 1983. Colin has been a Conference Convenor, member of the SPERA executive, editor of the Conference Proceedings and foundation editor of the Education in Rural Australia journal. Colin also has a passion of good wines, especially Cabernet sauvignon and Traminer, and in his spare time he produces a small quantity of  wine from his vineyard in Coolamon, NSW.  He also enjoys sailing and driving his classic car, currently a 1975 VK Valiant sedan.


marie_dale_webMarie Dale
Marie Dale was born in Lismore, NSW. She attended Lismore High School and worked as a librarian until 1969, when she married and moved west to Gunnedah. Marie and Tony have two children who attended Gunnedah High School and went on to university studying Law and Engineering.

During the children’s schooling Marie played an active role in their education and represented parents on regional in-service and other education committees. Through this activity Marie became particularly interested in the debate on educational disadvantage in rural areas.

After a crisis point in her daughter’s education, Marie began to lead in-service education for parents as well as courses on career paths for girls in rural areas and rural schooling. Marie was driven by the belief that rural children were not disadvantaged. She believed that rural children had more opportunities, living and attending schools in rural communities, to learn resourcefulness and self reliance which would stand by them throughout their life. At this time Marie successfully applied for a scholarship to look at rural education in America and discover the dialogue there about rural disadvantage,

When Marie returned to Australia she was convinced that the focus needed to be on the advantages of rural education. In 1984 a group of NSW consultants, parents, and teachers attended a conference in Gunnedah, organised by Marie and with the support of the NSW Education commission. SPERA was formed as an outcome of this activity and SPERA has held a national conference every year since its inception. Marie worked tirelessly in the early years to encourage the growth of SPERA, always emphasising the need to promote the positive advantages of rural education. Marie worked on the Executive of SPERA, with a flair for promotion and as a wonderful mentor for new members. In 1994 Marie was awarded life membership at the conference in Fremantle.

image of Don Boyd

Mr Don Boyd
Don Boyd left school at the end of Year 10 and completed a certificate courses at TAFE in Sheep and Wool and Wool Classing. He worked in the wool industry as a shed hand, shearer and wool classer. Don returned to study as a mature age student completing teacher qualifications and a BA (Social Science) while studying concurrently at the Western Australian Secondary Teachers College and the Western Australian Institute of Technology (now Curtin University of Technology).

On graduating in 1975 Don taught in two Perth metropolitan schools and also did a stint in the Education Department’s Curriculum Branch. In 1983 he took up the position of Head of Department, Social Studies, at Eastern Goldfields Senior High School and has been involved in rural and remote education ever since. Don has been principal of Meekatharra and Wyalkatchem District High Schools, Newman and Gosnells Senior High Schools and WA’s post compulsory distance education school. In 1990 he was the Superintendent of the Moora Education District and in 1998 was appointed Director, Isolated and Distance Education. A desire to get back to the “grass roots” of rural and remote education saw Don return to the Pilbara in 2003 as Area Director.

In 2006 Don was selected to work with the Fiji Education Sector supporting the Fiji Ministry of Education with their work in developing a process for school monitoring. On returning to Western Australia, Don was appointed Director, Rural and Remote Education with the Department of Education Services. Don currently manages his own consultancy specialising in rural, regional and remote education.

In 1991 Don completed a Masters degree in educational management. He has had two short local histories published: Meekatharra, a glimpse of the past and The Iron Ore School; the History of Newman Primary School.

Professor John Pegg
Professor John Pegg is Director of the SiMERR National research Centre based at the University of New England. He is known internationally and nationally for his contribution to theory-based cognition research in Learning and Assessment.He is currently the Minister’s nominee on the peak education body in NSW, the Board of Studies, Teaching and Educational Standards (BOSTES), and a Chief Investigator for the brain-based Australian Science for Learning Centre.

Current large-scale projects John is leading include: the support of underachieving students and at-risk adult leaners in basic Mathematics and Literacy through the QuickSmart program; the development of the Philippine National Research Centre for Teacher Quality (RCTQ) promoting system-wide reform in teacher education; the validation of the Professional Standards for Teachers in Saudi Arabia; and in-service teacher developments in Quality Teaching.


image of Sue TrinidadProfessor Sue Trinidad
Sue is the Director of the National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education at Curtin University. Sue was previously Deputy Pro-Vice Chancellor and Dean of Teaching and Learning in the Faculty of Humanities at Curtin during 2007-2012. In these roles she provided academic leadership for all educational programs for the Schools of Education, Media, Communications, Creative Arts, Architecture, Social Sciences and Asian Languages and Art and Design. Her role included overseeing the academic programs and leading the Higher Education Equity Participation Program for a large faculty which had many LSES, Indigenous and regional students.
Sue was instrumental in organising and supporting the 34th SPERA conference in Perth. Thank you Sue!


Dr image of Sue LedgerSue Ledger
Dr Sue Ledger, Murdoch University. (Dip Ed –Primary/ECE, B.Ed, Grad Dip, M.Ed, PhD candidate). Associate Dean of Engagement and School Partnership at Murdoch’s School of Education. Sue’s teaching and research interests include: policy, practices and issues related to teaching and learning to teach diverse contexts: International Education, Rural and Remote Education. She is currently exploring the use of mixed reality learning environments to better prepare preservice and teachers for these contexts. Since her PhD she explores convergence and divergence between rural and international schooling.
She represents Murdoch University on a range of committees associated with Rural and Remote . Teaching and Learning and International Education. Sue has taught and held administrative positions in a wide range of rural and remote schools throughout WA and overseas.


Emeritus Professor John Halsey
Author of the 2018 Independent Review into Regional, Rural and Remote Education (IRRRRE), Dr John Halsey commenced his career as a teacher, and was a principal of two schools in South Australia – Ceduna Area School and The Heights School (both reception to year 12, one rural, one metropolitan). He has been the Associate Director of the Senior Secondary Assessment Board of South Australia, an Executive Director in the South Australian Department of Education and Children’s Services and a Chief of Staff to a State Minister for Education and Children’s Services. He has also worked as an Educational Facilities Project Officer and for the Australian School’s Commission Choice and Diversity in Education initiative. He is the former Executive Officer of the Rural Education Forum Australia, and a current consultant with the Center for RelationaLearning, Santa Fe, New Mexico.


Peter Shearer
Peter Shearer is a proud teacher who after growing up in the Adelaide Hills and attending a one teacher school, has had the privilege of living and working in 4 South Australian rural towns – 2 as principal- Loxton and Clare. Peter is currently the principal at St Joseph’s Clare – when taking on this role he was the first lay principal for this Josephine school.
He has strong connection with rural teaching and living having bought a vineyard which he believes gives him a greater connection and understanding of the plight of primary production in rural Australia. Peter has been a long term attendee of the SPERA Conference which he has sponsored through his beloved wine label Wykari of Clare.
Peter advocates for the rural students in Catholic Education SA, undertaking roles on Country Scholarships, Finance and Planning.
Peter has a strong connection with the University of New England which has resulted in his school being the first SA school to establish the mathematical intervention program QuickSmart. He has assisted UNE in establishing connections throughout SA. Peter is passionate about ensuring that all country students gain equal access to funding, resourcing and ultimately equal access to quality education regardless of their location.