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Our Team

Our Board of Directors consists of educational, social science and design professionals.

Carla Wilson

Founder and Board Director

Carla brings professional experience working in social policy, community development and project management and has worked with children and young people extensively throughout her career. Her passion has been to create a school where the willingness to hear children’s voices is at the heart of the school culture.  A school where children’s natural sense of curiosity and inventiveness is supported and encouraged as they progress through formal education. Working closely with co-director and teacher, Paula Shaw, The Small School is the culmination of a three-year project to create a new school in Murwillumbah.

Carla’s qualifications are in psychology and history from the University of Queensland, where she also completed a Master of Social Administration (Community Development major). Carla has also worked extensively in adult and community education and has completed a Graduate Certificate in Environmental Education at Griffith University.

Carla has project management experience in social welfare and community projects as well as in primary schools where she has delivered programs on sustainability. She brings experience from a number of governance positions in the local community, including a local community pre-school, and is the mother to one young daughter.

Paula Shaw

Board Director

Paula has been instrumental in guiding the foundation of The Small School. She is a deeply committed and passionate educator and has worked as a teacher in suburban state high schools in Brisbane and Sydney and as a primary school teacher in the Cape York Aboriginal Community of Aurukun. Following this experience, Paula published her memoir Seven Seasons in Aurukun. Paula has appeared on ABC radio to speak about her experiences teaching in an Aboriginal community.


Paula has developed her knowledge of governance structures and procedures through her work as a consultant, conducting quality assurance audits of community organisations and more recently in her role as President of the Management Committee at a community pre-school. Her professional career has also focused on social welfare program research, evaluation and quality assurance in both the private and public sectors. 


Paula graduated as a teacher of Social Sciences and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies in 2002. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology (1998) as well as a Bachelor of Education degree. She continues to have a passion for education and is currently working towards a Master of Education degree through the Queensland University of Technology, as well as working as an independent assessor for the White Ribbon Australia Workplace Accreditation Program, while being a mum to two young girls. 

Sabrina Stokes

Board Director

Sabrina obtained a Bachelor of Social Science (Sociology) in 2000 and a Bachelor of Social Work in 2004. She has been in the Social Work sector for the past 20 years promoting the welfare of children and families in a variety of different roles and contexts including non-government, government, private business and tertiary education. Sabrina completed her Graduate Diploma in Education in 2008. In the same year Sabrina also obtained her Cert IV in Training and Assessment. She has worked as an Educator and Facilitator in non-government organisations and colleges and is currently working at Southern Cross University. She has a strong passion for lifelong learning emphasising the importance of creating and maintaining positive learning experiences from as early as possible.

Sabrina is currently the Secretary of the Management Committee of a local community preschool. Additionally, she supports the preschool through writing grant applications and creating opportunities for family engagement. Sabrina was on the board, in the role of Secretary for a not for profit community organisation in Brisbane before moving to the Tweed Valley. Sabrina has two beautiful young children.

Louise Kolff

Board Director

Louise holds a doctorate from the Department of Art and Design, University of New South Wales (UNSW). For the past four years Louise has worked as an online lecturer in graphic design and information graphics at UNSW, and is currently working as a lecturer in graphic design at Southern Cross University. In addition, during the past three years she has worked in school administration in a development role at a local primary school. Louise is an engaged member of the local community. She has sat on the board of the Mt Warning Community Preschool, and has for a number of years organised a local organic bulk buying group. In addition she has been a member of Zero Emissions Tweed, a Tweed residents group working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and make the Tweed more resilient to the impacts of climate change. Louise is mother to two beautiful girls.

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