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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 reading difficulties. In 2006, she completed a doctorate at 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.  She is the founder director of Wordworks.

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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.

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Gabriel Boka

Finance Manager

Gabriel worked for the Public Service in various Ministries for more than sixteen years. He worked as Accounts Clerk, Human Resources Clerk, Accountant and then as Internal Auditor. He has Diplomas in Financial Accounting and in Credit Management. He also has a degree in Business Administration (BBA) and has done a Masters degree in Business Administration (MBA). Gabriel has been with Wordworks since 2010.

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Natalie Bell

Publishing and Production Manager

I came to Wordworks with two decades of experience in educational publishing in South Africa. Amongst others, I’ve worked for Shuter & Shooter Publishers, Cambridge University Press; Juta and Via Afrika Publishers. I’ve also done editing of post-graduate dissertations. I bring my publishing and production skills while making words work efficiently at Wordworks. I feel honoured to be useful to this NGO that is doing such valuable, life-changing work. I enjoy translating complex language into plain English – this fires up my energy. I try to find the author’s voice and express his or her intention in the most efficient way possible. I try to find the best possible way to communicate a concept to a student, and to make it stay and grow with that student. Editing, taking a manuscript back to basics, is where I started and I still take pleasure in it – helping to deliver an author’s message. Project management is the position I’ve found myself in the most. I’ve developed splendid working relationships with most of my suppliers, colleagues and clients. It is helpful when I have insight into the content so that the final publication is the best it can be. I have worked with onerous deadlines and impossible turnaround times. I enjoy commissioning and building relationships with teams of people from authors, to illustrators, to designers, to layout people. I strive towards creative synergy – finding the best possible way to take ideas and communicate them: beautifully, succinctly and effectively.

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Edeline Boka

Senior Administrator

Edeline worked as a Secretary for the Ministry of Justice for three years before joining Wordworks in 2012. She has a National Diploma in Secretarial studies and has also attended short courses in computer studies, and office administration and communication.   Edeline is currently studying towards a degree in Human Resources.

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Andrea George

Communications Officer

Andrea has had 15 years of language teaching experience at various primary and high schools, as well as tertiary institutions. She also co-ordinated the Writing Centre at UWC for 3 years. After a stint in the corporate world, Andrea developed her interest in communications when teaching the subject in South Korea. For 6 years, she worked as communications manager at the Black Sash, first part-time and then full-time, before taking up her current position in communications at Wordworks in 2016.

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Isabella Hugow

Data Management Officer

Isabella (Isa) graduated from UCT in 2014. She has experience in tutoring both foundation phase and high school learners as a volunteer, and has also worked as a tutor for university students. She started at Wordworks in 2015 where her main responsibility was ELIT (Stellar) data management. She is now responsible for the data management for all four programmes. Isa says: “I love that my job helps Wordworks to track and report on all the good work it does, and that as a result we are able to obtain the necessary resources to continue changing lives through literacy.”

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Tahirih Smith-Adams

Office Assistant

Tahirih completed Parts 1 and 2 at the Institute of Chartered Accountants CA (GH), and then started working for Latex Foam Rubber Products Limited in 2008 as a receptionist.  She became an accounts officer (2009 – 2012), and then was promoted to Assistant Accountant (2013 – 2014) upon completion of Level 2 of the Institute of Chartered Accountants (GH).  In 2016, she was the co-ordinator of the Wordworks Ready Steady Read Write Programme at Liwa Primary School (Nyanga), while assisting in the Wordworks office on a part-time basis. Tahirih joined the organisation on a full-time basis in 2017.