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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:

Tatsuki Shiratsuchi
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.
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.
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.
Zac Ulliana
Teacher of Violin
Hi, my name is Zac Ulliana. I was awarded my AMusA for Violin in 2014 and am currently studying for my Bachelor of Music at the Queensland Conservatorium. I was awarded Most Promising Performer in the Strings Sections at the Gold Coast Eisteddfod as well as First Place in the Open Age String Championship and the String Solo section. I enjoy sharing my knowledge and love of music through the violin with my students at Athena College.
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.

Bunny Gabriel
Teacher of Piano and Mini Music

We welcome Bunny Gabriel to Athena College. Bunny teaches piano, singing, ukulele and Mini Music. Everyone loves their lesson with Miss Bunny and there are always smiles all round.

Kiah Leslie
Teacher of Voice

Kiah Leslie is a dedicated music and singing teacher with a sincere passion for helping others to achieve their performance goals. Kiah combines an in depth knowledge of the anatomical and physiological functionality of the voice with an appreciation for a variety of styles and genres in her all-encompassing approach to teaching. From a very young age, Kiah actively participated in a wide variety of performing arts, gaining extensive performance experience in various solo, ensemble and theatrical settings, which ignited her love for music. Now at 21 years of age, Kiah holds a Bachelor of Music in Jazz/Contemporary Voice from the Queensland Conservatorium of Music and a Graduate Diploma of Education from Griffith University. She is currently studying a Masters in Vocal Pedagogy through the Queensland Conservatorium whilst teaching here at Athena College.

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 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. 
Ruby Pangrazio
Teacher of Flute

Hi! I’m Ruby Pangrazio and I joined Athena College in 2008, studying the flute, music theory, and later the piano. My passion for music began when I was eight years old as I fell in love with the flute. Since then I have completed AMEB Grade 8 on the flute and Grade 4 Theory of Music, whilst also experiencing eisteddfods and being a member of the Gold Coast Youth Orchestra. I not only love performing and teaching, but also appreciate what they have bought to my life: music has assisted me with skills such as critical thinking, communication and even mathematics! I’m currently studying Engineering at Griffith University, and will definitely continue to enjoy my love of music throughout my career. I hope to share my knowledge and passion with others here at Athena College!