Wordworks team

Dr Shelley O’Carroll 


Shelley trained as a remedial teacher and educational psychologist. From 2002 to 2007 she specialised in assessments and support for children with dyslexia. In 2004, she began a doctorate with the Institute of Education at the University of London. Her research for her PhD was conducted in South Africa and explored ways of supporting the early literacy development of Grade One children learning to read and write in English as a second language. In 2005 she founded Wordworks and over the following years designed, developed and coordinated the Early Literacy Programme.

Brigid Comrie 

Early Learning in Families: Programme Developer and Coordinator

Brigid has a Bachelor of Education from the University of Cape Town, a Diploma in Specialised Education from the University of South Africa, a Speech and Hearing Specialist Diploma from UCT, and a Parenting and Leadership Certificate from the Parent Centre. She worked for the Western Cape Education Department where she was responsible for managing Learning Support in the mainstream, and subsequently as a freelance education specialist. She is the author of several textbooks published by Juta’s. She is a founding member of Wordworks, and designed and developed the Home-School Partnership Programme.

Cathy Lincoln

Home-School Partnership Programme Manager

Cathy has a BA, a post-graduate diploma in Early Childhood Development and another in secondary school teaching. She joined Wordworks in 2011 after 30 years in the classroom. For 21 of those years she taught pre-primary classes, including children with special needs. She has also taught English as a second language to High School Afrikaans and isiXhosa speakers.

Angelique Twiss

STELLAR Programme Manager

Angelique has a HDE from JCE and a further Diploma in Learners with Barriers to Learning from Rand Afrikaans University. She spent 18 years teaching at Holy Rosary School, St Stithians Preparatory and St Peters School for Girls in Johannesburg.  She specialised in the Grade R and Grade One age groups, in particular all aspects of literacy at this level. For eight years she was the director of her own business which developed learning strategies through creative craft projects.

Sue Setton

Early Literacy Programme Manager

Sue has a Diploma in Junior Primary Education from Rhodes University and has experience teaching children in the foundation phase at regular schools and at schools for deaf children.  She has completed a TEFL course and has experience teaching children and adults English as a second language.  After she qualified with a Diploma in Special Education from UNISA, she worked at Herzlia Primary as the Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO) and later headed up the Learning Support Team.

Jane Coombe

Deputy Director

Jane taught at Mount View and Cathkin High Schools on the Cape Flats, during the 1980s.  She was awarded a Masters Degree from the Institute of Education, University of London and then worked at UCT where she was involved in teacher and curriculum development.  She was Director of the Mathematics Education Project and went on to establish UCT’s Schools Development Unit.    She was National Programme Director at the Black Sash for eight years before returning recently to her roots in education by joining Wordworks.

Miriam du Toit

Financial and Operations Manager

Miriam has worked in the NGO sector both as manager and board member for more than 30 years. Her experience in NGO management includes finances, human resources, fundraising, strategy and operations. She obtained her qualification in management from the University of Cape Town’s Graduate School of Business. Miriam is also the Finance and HR Director of the African Monitor.

Edeline Boka

Administrative Manager

Edeline worked as a Secretary for the District Magistrate in Zimbabwe Public Service for three years. She has a National Diploma in Secretarial studies and has also attended short courses in computer studies.

Lynn Stefano

Every Word Counts Programme Manager

Lynn has a Masters in Agriculture (Food Security) and Post Grad Diploma in Agriculture (Rural resource management). She has since 1997 worked with deeply rural communities in KwaZulu-Natal to improve their access to information and promote adult and early literacy. As director of the Family Literacy Project for six years, she gained experience in home visiting programmes, community libraries, maternal and child health and community-driven development. Lynn joined Wordworks in February 2014.

Gabriel Boka

Accounting Officer

Gabriel worked for the Ministry of Agriculture in Zimbabwe as a senior accounts clerk and then for the Ministry of Health as an Accountant. He has worked for the Ministry of Local Government as an Internal Auditor and as a part-time bookkeeping for AR Engineering. He has a Diploma in Financial Accounting, a Diploma in Credit Management and a Degree in Business Administration (BBA).

Bukelwa Yuze


Bukelwa, who has a Bachelor of Education (BEd) degree, comes to Wordworks from the Nelson Mandela Institute for Education and Rural Development where she specialised in support for Grades 2 and 3 between 2011 – 2015. Prior to that she had 19 years of teaching in the foundation phase in Cape Town. As a teacher trainer, Bukelwa has a special interest in isiXhosa and English literacy, and the promotion of early reading. She is an advocate for the holistic development of the child with an emphasis on child-friendly classroom management, and with a strong interest in inclusive education.

Colleen Diedericks 

Literacy Mentor and Trainer in the STELLAR project

Colleen was a Foundation Phase Subject Advisor for 7 years in the Metro South Education District. She  has 26 years of teaching experience in both Intermediate and Foundation Phase prior to becoming a Subject Advisor. She served as the Head of Department in Foundation Phase for 8 years and  holds a  B.Ed Degree, a Diploma in Specialized Education as well as a Primary Teachers’ Diploma.  After serving the WCED for 32 years, Colleen left to work as a READ Educational Trust Trainer and Teacher mentor for Language in Grades 1 to 6 as part of the WCED Lit/Num Project.

Board members

Rethabile Mashale (Chairperson)

Rethabile Mashale is Director of Thope Foundation (www.thopefoundation.org), a non-profit organisation providing primary school support programmes to young girls in Khayelitsha. She is co-founder and lead consultant of a management and leadership development consultancy working in South Africa and West Africa. Rethabile holds a Master’s degree in Social Policy and Management, with a focus on monitoring and evaluation in the non-profit sector, from the University of Cape Town. As a PhD candidate at the University of Stellenbosch, her research focus is on the management tasks performed by volunteers on management committees of non-profit organisations. She has worked with transnational organisations, some of which include Comic Relief/UK Sport International, Futures Group SHIPP Project; the John Hopkins Health Education South Africa funded projects like Health Promoters Project, Brother for Life, Intersexions and the evaluation on behaviour change communication strategies in the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS.  Combined with her experience spanning over a decade in the non-profit sector, she serves on the boards of several non-profit organisations in various roles.

Damian Conway (Treasurer)

Damian is Project Leader of the iShack Project based at the Sustainability Institute. After gaining a Masters in Engineering from the University of Cape Town, Damian was Chief Scientific Officer for a medical device business which he co-founded. In 2009 he completed a degree in Sustainable Development at Stellenbosch University and worked as a consultant in the sustainability and enterprise development spheres.

Dr Mantoa Smouse

Mantoa Smouse is currently a senior lecturer and Head of African Languages and Literatures in the School of Languages and Literatures at the University of Cape Town. She has authored, edited and translated Sesotho and isiXhosa school text-books and has published journal articles in the area of second language acquisition and child language development and multilingualism in the workplace. She is currently working on developing linguistic milestones for Sesotho and isiXhosa speaking children. Dr Smouse is the Chairperson of the African Languages Association of Southern Africa.

Sandra Hamman (Secretary)

Sandra  is a Learning Support Teacher in Metro South Education District in Cape Town. She works at St James Primary School and Bay Primary School and is passionate about supporting young children to achieve their potential.

Pam Picken

Mrs Pam Picken holds a B.A. Degree, a Graduate Certificate in Education and an H.E.D Post-Graduate Pre-Primary. She has worked passionately in the field of early childhood development for 36 years – as a teacher; as a consultant to Rainbow Chicken Farms Corporate Social Investment; for 13 years as Director of TREE, one of the longest serving and largest of the ECD Resource and Training Organisations in South Africa; in ECD consultancy and research. Pam has completed the NeuroLeadership Institute Executive Coaching course and continues her work for young children through Leadership in Development – supporting, mentoring and coaching leaders in the ECD, children’s & development sector to maximise their potential.

Shelley O’Carroll

(see above)