Jessa has a breadth of experience as an educator, having worked as a teacher in primary and secondary schools, then as a school principal opening an Indigenous girls’ boarding school in Far North Queensland for teenage mothers and their children. Jessa’s PhD explored Aboriginal and Māori girls’ contemporary boarding school experiences in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand through photoyarn, an Indigenous arts-based method she developed. Prior to commencing as an Assistant Professor at the University of Canberra, Jessa was Course Coordinator in postgraduate Indigenous education and Indigenous research courses at Macquarie University and previously lectured in education at the University of the Sunshine Coast, and at the University of Canberra in Indigenous Studies. She also worked in the Centre for Aboriginal Policy and Economic Research (CAEPR) at the Australian National University.
Jessa worked as an Executive Teacher with the ACT Education Directorate creating the ACT’s first cultural curriculum embedding Ngunnawal culture in schools over the next few years. Jessa has been recognised through numerous awards including QUT Young Alumnus of the Year 2016, the ANU Vice Chancellor’s Staff Award for Reconciliation, the ANU Postgraduate Student of the Year Award, and the Minoru-Hokari Scholarship. In 2010, Jessa was the National NAIDOC Young Person of the Year and she now sits on the National NAIDOC Committee.
Jessa is a registered teacher in the ACT, Queensland, and New Zealand holding professional memberships with the Australian College of Educators and the Australian Council for Educational Leaders. A creative artist, Jessa’s undergraduate degrees in drama, and film, television and new media at QUT added to her experience as a musician, vocalist and dancer. Jessa continues her visual art practice in ink work and photography. As a Registered Provider of Professional Learning with the ACT Government Teacher Quality Institute (TQI), Jessa continues her role as an independent presenter and consultant in the area of Indigenous education and Indigenous research with students in schools.