I was born in Brooklyn, New York, moving to Northern Ireland at 3 years old when my Northern Irish parents decided that they could not afford for the three of us kids to attend the local ‘good school’, despite the fact that both of them did two jobs. So, I have been an ‘international educational migrant’ from a young age!
I qualified as a teacher in 1983 and served as a Geography teacher and Head of Department for 15 years in Schools, briefly in Northern Ireland, and then in two excellent schools; first in the state sector in Hertfordshire and then in the private sector in Staffordshire. On returning to Northern Ireland, I completed a part-time Masters in Education Technology and was appointed as a Lecturer in Education at Ulster University in 2001, as Course Director in PGCE Geography and teaching in CPD courses in the ICT pathway of the MEd, whilst doing a part-time PhD.
I served as Head of the School of Education at Ulster from 2009 to 2013, leading the school through a range of key strategic developments. More widely, I chaired the 2011-12 University-wide review of Widening Access and Participation and the Bring your Own Device (BYOD) Project Board, 2013-14. I was appointed to a personal Chair in Education in 2012 and as Research Director for Education in August 2016. Beyond UU, I served the Northern Chair of the cross-border body for teacher education – the Standing Conference for Teacher Education North and South (SCoTENS 2013-2016). In June 2013, I was jointly commissioned by the BERA-RSA Inquiry into Teacher Education to co-write a Review of UK policy and practice – a ‘home international’ comparison of teacher education across the UK. I am currently Chair of the Universities’ Council for the Education of Teachers Northern Ireland (UCETNI, 2010-11) Committee.