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Sue den Besten
Founder and Principal

I have been involved in Music Education for the past 30 years, having taught in a variety of school settings: secondary, primary, early childhood, large and also relatively small schools, independent, public and private school systems, as a Consultant in the Arts for Qld Ed., overseas exchange postings and most recently in an International school in China, where I was in charge of a thriving music department and Head of the Senior School. I am passionate about teaching and I believe that is evidenced through my teaching of music. I have always provided opportunities for all students to access the joys of music, dance and drama, regardless of their individual musical ability! I am excited that Athena College, a lifelong dream is being realised and is on the Gold Coast, providing quality education in the arts. Please feel free to call in and see our school in progress: we are all very proud of this new direction in arts education and look forward to sharing it with you. Email:

George Carpenter
Teacher of Percussion and Drum Kit
Hi, my name is George and I’m the principal instructor of drums and percussion here at Athena College. Aside from teaching music I’m also a passionate songwriter and producer as well as the drummer for Gold Coast heavy rock group Mourning Tide. In my formative years I studied drums and percussion under the guidance of renowned Australian and international teachers such as Mark Charters, Paul Hudson, Todd Burnes, Kerry Jacobson and Darren Farrugia. Since finishing high school at All Saints in 2005 I have been recording, touring and teaching drums almost constantly. In 2009 I also completed a Bachelor of Popular Music at the Queensland Conservatorium greatly furthering my recording and song writing experience. I believe in teaching all my students based on their individual wants and needs. I also believe in exposing my students to all the various styles of contemporary drumming in order to best develop their musical vocabulary. I also appreciate that giving my students a complete musical and technical understanding of what it is they are playing yields the fastest and most thorough results. This systematic approach ultimately empowers the student to listen, perform and compose creatively behind the drumset; something I try and do every time I sit down behind the kit. I look forward to meeting and hopefully teaching you or your children in the future.
Joanne Politakis
Teacher of Voice & Piano
Jo has joined the staff of Athena College as a singing and piano teacher. She has studied both singing and piano at Athena College and is recently graduated from the Queensland Science Academy. Jo is currently studying nursing at Griffith Uni. She loves singing and enjoys most genres of music. Jo is thrilled to be teaching at Athena and is excited to be part of the great Athena family from this new perspective: teaching!!
Patricia Ciafardini
Teacher of Visual Art
Athena College is proud to have one of the Gold Coast's most revered and loved art specialists working with us. Pat has two decades experience working as a primary art specialist and her genuine love for every child and passion she has for every project is infectious. In addition to her role at Athena, Pat continues to work full time in a leading Gold Coast private school, making her commitment to work with us even more special and exciting.
Zac Ulliana
Teacher of Violin
We are pleased to welcome Zack to Athena College. Zack is teaching violin.
Vashti den Besten
Manager, Administration & Human Resources
Vashti has been at Athena from its inception. She is responsible for all administration as well as human resource management. Vashti has a Certificate III in Business Management as well as Diplomas in both Events Management and Hospitality. She often finds herself in the theatre classes painting sets or assisting with choreography or making costumes. Her training in theatre makes her an invaluable asset during shows, as she is as adept at rigging a lighting bar and fine tuning the sound as she is at stage management during run-of-show. Vashti is an integral part of Athena College and always makes everyone feel most welcome to be there.
Morgan Goulding
Teacher of Flute, Piano and Drama
Hi there, my name is Morgan Goulding and I specialise in flute and piano at Athena College. Music has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember and I have enjoyed every moment of it. I have studied the piano for 8 years and the flute for 7 years and have made the flute my major study. I have been involved in many eisteddfods, competitions, school bands, ensembles and musicals as well as having previously participated in the GCYO (Gold Coast Youth Orchestra) Wind Ensemble and Youth Symphony. I am currently studying a Bachelor of Business and was awarded my Associate in Music (AMUS) on the flute. I hope to share my passion and excitement for music with my students here at Athena College.
Zoe Madrers
Teacher of Drama and Theatre

Hi, my name is Zoe Madrers and I joined Athena College as a foundation student in 2005, studying theatre, singing and piano. My passion for the arts started when I was four years old through dance, choirs, eisteddfods and performances. I have been fortunate to have been able to study at Athena College under some amazing teachers, so it's very exciting for me to now be on the other side as a teacher myself. I have been successful in many eisteddfods over the years and have achieved excellent results in mime, poetry, improvisation, monologues and group drama. I have played a number of roles in both the Music Theatre class and Teen Theatre. I'm looking forward to sharing my love of drama with my students at Athena College. 



Ve Helgeson
Teacher of Piano and Theory

Piano is Ve's first love. She is an accomplished piano teacher who works and studies tirelessly to expand on her knowledge, bringing fresh approaches as well as tried and true methods to her lessons, always with the objective of helping her students achieve their potential.  Ve believes that a solid foundation at an early age is the key to musical success and has put alot of time into developing methods for teaching very young students.  Ve also teaches to the most advanced levels and has had successful AmusA and LmusA candidates.


Ve is one of the most experienced Theory teachers to be found, being taught herself by the late Dulcie Holland (author of the well respected Master Your Theory series of workbooks). Ve runs group theory classes for students at similar levels, these classes are open to anyone from any musical background, even if you are learning trombone at school you can come along to Ve's classes for theory.  Subjects such as 4 part vocal harmony, melody writing and aural training are all thoroughly covered as students progress to the more advanced levels of musical theory.

Dale Walker
Teacher of Guitar

Hi, my name is Dale and I am one of the guitar teachers at Athena College. I have been playing music since the age of 9 (21 years of experience on the guitar as well as 15 years on the bass guitar). I am intensely passionate about music and art and I think that shows in my teaching of the guitar. It gives me great pleasure and pride to see my students learn and flourish at their instrument. I have been teaching professionally for close to a decade and playing professionally for about the same in numerous bands such as Mourning Tide (a hard rock band, we have released two full length albums, the last one which was mixed and mastered in the USA as well as countless tours around Australia) and Mescalito Blues (a power blues duo that plays all over the coast and occasionally internationally). These experiences playing professionally in the industry inform my teaching practice and give me a unique tool to use when teaching students with an eye for performance in the future as well teaching them to be creative on their instrument but most of all, to have fun doing it!

Liam Cruz
Teacher of Brass & Guitar

Liam plays both french horn and trumpet and is a member of the Gold Coast Youth Symphony as well as being the Stage Manager. He has recently completed his senior school studies. Liam also plays and teaches guitar and happily shares his musical skills and knowledge with young guitar students. Liam is currently in high demand in the theatre world, as a Musical Director.

Tatsuki Shiratsuch
Teacher of Cello

Tatsuki has been playing the cello for over 11 years, and has recently completed his Licentiate Diploma in Music. He is a current university student studying Law at the University of Queensland. He hopes to continue playing the cello throughout his life and share his musical skills and knowledge with young students.


Bunny Gabriel
Teacher of Piano and Mini Music

We welcome Bunny Gabriel to Athena College. Bunny teaches piano and Mini Music.

Jazmin Fehr
Teacher of Dance

Jazmin Fehr is 20 years of age and has a passion for musical theatre and teaching children. She has been singing, dancing, acting and playing the piano ever since she can remember. Jazmin completed a Cert IV in Music Theatre at Gold Coast Triple Threat in 2011 and has performed in many musicals including Grease, Beauty and the Beast, High School Musical Two, You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown, Oliver playing the role of ‘Bet’, All Shook Up playing the role of ‘Lorraine’, Camp Rock playing the role of ‘Peggy’, and choreographed ‘Kids in Space’ at All Saints Anglican School in 2012. Currently, Jazmin is in her third year of university studying a Bachelor of Early Childhood Education at Southern Cross University, works at Kool Kids Early Learning Centre, and is choreographing ‘Aladdin’ for All Saints Anglican School. 

Anita Leung
Teacher of Piano

Anita began her music education at the age of six with Yamaha music school.


In 2005, she began studying with Ve Helgeson and has since achieved her AMusA in piano and Grade 5 theory of music.


She enjoys not only solo performance, but also participating in accompanying, chamber performance and ensembles.


Gemma Howard
Piano Teacher

Hi, my name is Gemma Howard and I am thrilled to be one of the dedicated piano teachers at Athena College. It was my keen desire to learn piano when I was six years old – because of my love of music.  After what seemed like an eternity I began piano lessons when I was seven and as I knew I would, fell in love with the piano. Over the past several years I have completed the required AMEB practical and theory exams, receiving Honors and a Credit for the exams. I am currently (2014) studying for my Grade Eight exam, and plan to continue my music studies further after completing this level. I am excited to be joining the Athena College teaching team and look forward to encouraging my students with their own musical journey through Athena.  

Nikki Chong
Teacher of Drama
Hey my name is Nikki and I teach drama and singing here at Athena College. As soon as my Mum put me in a pink tutu when I was little, I knew the stage was for me. I always wanted to be a ballerina until I fell in love with musical theatre. I have performed as Jan from 'Grease', Princess Tuptim in 'The King and I' and Reno Sweeny in 'Anything Goes' to name a few. As much as I loved performing, I am studying to become an animator at university so I can bring even more characters to life. The performing arts has taught me a lot of life skills that I don't just use in the performance industry so I'm really excited to pass on my knowledge to the students here at Athena College. 
Hannah Chong
Teacher of Voice


The performing arts have been a part of Hannah's life for as long as she can remember. Musical theatre is her passion, and she studied singing for more than six years throughout school. In that time, Hannah competed in many eisteddfods (for both solo singing and school choirs), participated in school musicals (including Anything Goes and Thoroughly Modern Millie), and completed her AMEB singing exams up to grade seven. Last year, Hannah graduated from the Queensland University of Technology with a Bachelors degree in Creative and Professional Writing. She can't wait to pass on her joy and passion for singing to the students at Athena College.

Elissa Mak
Teacher of Piano

Elissa began her musical journey at the age of 8 and has achieved a diploma (AmusA) in piano, as well as the required grade 5 theory of music. Her musical understanding is evidenced with numerous awards and outstanding results of music at school and piano grades.  She has also participated in multiple eisteddfods and concerts in the community. Through her love of music, Elissa is thrilled to pass on her musical knowledge and skill to the students at Athena College.

Enya Chong
Teacher of Piano

My name is Enya and I have been highly involved in the music industry since I was 9 years old. I’ve learnt the Piano and Flute ever since I was in primary school and continued my passion of music into my high school years, being a member of numerous musical ensembles including: Big band, Chamber Orchestra, Girls Choir, Vocal group, Flute ensemble, Recorder Ensemble, Percussion Ensemble and Show Choir.

I enjoy singing in an acapella group and composing music in my spare time. My strong passion for music is the reason why I enjoy teaching at Athena College, where I am able to share my love of music with my students. I have one favourite phrase in life and that’s ‘Practise makes Perfect’. 

In music, the only way to master your instrument is if you practise a little each day, which is something I encourage all of my students to do in order to improve their musical talents.