Highly qualified staff

Maria Johnson

Managing Director/Owner/Licensee

Hi my name is Maria Johnson.  I spent my childhood growing up on a farm with my parents, two brothers and three sisters.

I moved to Wellington after training as a Primary School teacher at Hamilton Teachers College and completing my Bachelor of Education at Waikato University. B.Ed, Dip. Tching Primary. In 2006 I studied full time and gained my Early Childhood qualifications from the New Zealand College of Early Childhood Education.

I have four beautiful boys - Mathew, Joshua, Benjamin and Jacob (twins). I love being with my children and watching them grow and develop as individuals! Being a Mum is the greatest job in the world (even though sometimes it tests our patience).

I really enjoy spending time with family and friends, relaxing in my garden and being creative. When there is any spare time I also like to exercise.

After living in Sydney and experiencing the wonderful Pre-School Education system there,  I felt there was a huge need for quality education in Wellington.  I am excited about Little School's programme and what it has to offer.

I am passionate and ambitious about young children discovering their abilities and providing them with the knowledge, skills and values to make them lifelong learners.  I continually aspire to be a leader in education and thoroughly enjoy this journey.  I am extremely fortunate to work alongside a brilliant team of dedicated teachers at Little School.  Together we aspire to be widely recognised leaders in preschool education.

I have also been an executive member of the Early Childhood Council since 2008 and am currently the ECC President.  This is a role I thoroughly enjoy and again I am fortunate to work alongside a team of people who are dedicated within the early childhood sector. 

In 2012 Little School won two Her Regional Wellington Business Awards - Best Small to Medium Business and Wellington Business Woman of the year.



Megan Watson

Operations Manager/Enrolments

Hi My name is Megan.
I began working as a Teacher at Little School when it first began in 2003.

I have a Diploma in Teaching Early Childhood which I completed at Whitirea Polytech. I then nannyed for two very special families which have remained a special part of my life and I still enjoy watching the children grow.

I took a break from Little School in 2007 when I had my son Oscar, who is a delight. I returned to Little School in 2009 when I became a member of the Management Team which I really enjoy. My son attended Kelburn Little School and was enriched by this experience.

In my sparetime I enjoy cooking, skiing and spending my time with family and friends.

Jane Jennings

Curriculum Co-ordinator

Hi, my name is Jane.  I began working as a teacher at Little School just after it first began in 2003.

I have a Diploma of Teaching in ECE and a Bachelor of Education which I completed at Dunedin College of Education and Otago University in the early 90's.

From mid 2004-2008 I took a break from Little School and Andrew and I had our two children Sarah and Harry - they are busy little people who bring lots of joy, love and laughter to our house.  Sarah attended Khandallah Little School and Harry went to Kelburn before transferring to Khandallah - so I have and interest and perspective in the schools as a parent and as an educator.

I returned to Little School in 2008 as a release teacher and in 2010 I became part of the Management Team and took on the role of teacher support and curriculum support.

In my spare time I enjoy running, walking, cooking, traveling and spending time with family and friends.

Allison Whitelaw

Administration Assistant

Hello, my name is Allison.  I was born and raised in Lower Hutt and I am the third of four daughters in our family. 

My extended family has grown to include a niece and nephew whom I absolutely love spending quality time with, whether it’s inside playing games or outdoors at the park or the beach.

I attended Chilton Saint James School for the entirety of my schooling which is where my passion for education was ignited.  At school I was heavily involved in extra-curricular activities such as choirs, shows as well as many sports and I am aware of how fortunate I was to have those opportunities. 

I began a Communication degree at Massey University in 2009 but transferred to Whitireia Performance Centre in 2011 where I completed a Bachelor of Applied Arts (singing) in 2013. 

In 2014 and 2015 in between some travelling to the United Kingdom and other countries I worked in various temporary assignments and gained administration experience which I really enjoyed.  In my spare time I enjoy singing and performing, cooking, bush walks and of course, spending time with my family and friends.


Khandallah Little School

Katharina Kiefer

Khandallah Little School - Assistant Head Teacher - Currently on parental leave

Hallo, Bună, Ni hao and Kia Ora!

I am Katharina Kiefer and have taken over group 2 this term. I have worked at Little School Khandallah before staying home with my little one and joined last year the Kelburn teaching team for a couple of terms. Teaching is my passion and I am looking forward to having a splendid time learning and playing alongside your children.

I moved with my husband Thomas to New Zealand in 2009. I was born in Germany and have spent all my childhood living in a three generation house. Even though I live far away from my family, I am very bonded to them. Work and interest has sent me until now to many different countries such as Rumania, China and now I call New Zealand my home.

In July 2012 my husband and I welcomed our first child, Kailani Amilia. She turned our life upside-down and we are extremely happy. Sometimes we are too happy and excited to have her that we can’t sleep at all.

I am a positive thinking person who enjoys working in a team and I am looking forward to be back at Khandallah Little School. I am curious about the things I will learn and the things I can contribute. Please don’t hesitate to ask my any questions or discuss your child’s learning.

Haere rā, Katharina

Lana Swain

Khandallah Little School - Teacher

Kia Ora!

My name is Lana Swain. I am originally from the Horowhenua district and have spent the last three years studying in Palmerston North.  I have just completed a Bachelor of Education (Teaching)  Early Years (0-8) at Massey University and I am now happy to be settling in Wellington.

I am passionate about the outdoors and like to keep fit and healthy. In my spare time I enjoy going to the beach, fishing and spending time with family and friends. I also love to explore my creative side, particularly in art and photography.

I believe in building responsive and reciprocal relationships with each individual child in order to develop a love of learning. I am very excited to begin my teaching career at Little School and look forward to working alongside the children, families and teachers  at Khandallah.

Melinda Buenaventura-Verchez

Khandallah Little School - Acting Head Teacher

Hi, I'm Melinda Buenaventura-Verchez from the Philippines.  I'm a graduate of the University of Santo Tomas where I earned the degree Bacehelor of Elementary Education major in Early Childhood Education.  I taught grades 1 and 2 in an International school in the Philippines.  Then before coming to New Zealand, I was a toddler teacher in a preschool for two years.

Aside from teaching,  I love spending time with my family and friends.  I also enjoy discovering new things through books and traveling. 

I'm excited to begin my new adventure here in New Zealand and continue my teaching profession with the children, families and the team of Khandallah Little School.

Alison Haycock


 Hi my name is Alison,

I am a trained primary school teacher from Manchester in the UK and am now delighted to be working at Little School and be a part of the Khandallah team.

I graduated from Edge Hill University in 2012 with a degree in Primary Education. I was then a primary school teacher in the UK for over 2 years. I mainly taught infants which included children with special educational needs and children with English as an additional language.

Since arriving in Wellington, I have gained a wide range of experience relieving in various Early Childhood Centres across Wellington as well as being a nanny for a wonderful family who remain dear to me. It was this experience where I discovered my passion for teaching in Early Years.

In my spare time I love to explore New Zealand, go on hikes and travel. I enjoy baking, listening to music, reading and especially learning new things.

I look forward to the learning journeys I will embark on at Little School, in particular, getting to know and work with you and your children.

Louise Davies


Kia Ora

My name is Louise Davies I am very excited to have joined the teaching team of Little School Khandallah.  I am looking forward to getting to know the children and families of this community.

I have had the pleasure of working within the Little School’s in 2014 as a relief teacher and am pleased to be working in a full time position now in 2016.  I have 10 years’ experience working with pre-schoolers at the Khandallah/Ngaio Community Crèche.  Working with young children was my second career as prior to having my own two lovely teenage daughters Kristen and Lauren I spent many years in Sales and Recruitment.

I am passionate about supporting the individual development and growth of all the young children I have the opportunity to work with.  All children are unique and I feel very honoured to be now working with the children of Little School Khandallah.

In my free time I enjoy walking, reading and spending time with family and friends.  Watching my own children’s sports and activities as well as helping my own girls grow through their teenage years.    

Churton Park Little School

Penny Hill

Churton Park Little School - Teacher - On extended leave

Kia ora, my name is Penelope (but you can call me Penny). I am very happy to be working in the Little School team. I studied in 2008 at Victoria University to complete my Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Education. From there, I went on to do a Graduate Diploma in Teaching at the Primary school level. I really enjoyed my teacher training, where I got to experience teaching at the senior and junior level.

In my spare time I love to bake. I enjoy testing out new recipes and food from different cultures. I am the captain of a social netball team and play weekly. I have a love of dance, and enjoy incorporating this into my teaching where appropriate.

I am really looking forward to meeting all of the friendly families here at Little School in Churton Park, and supporting your child’s development.

Mikaela Gerraty

Churton Park Little School - Teacher

Hi, my name is Mikaela Gerraty. I have recently moved to Wellington from Marlborough, and am excited to be starting at Churton Park Little School.

I graduated in 2005 with a Graduate Diploma of Teaching and Learning (Early Childhood). Before that I had completed an Honours Degree in Education (2001), and did 2 years relief teaching in Primary Schools in the Christchurch area. While relieving I discovered my passion for teaching children aged under 5.

In my spare time I enjoy gardening, baking, Highland Dancing, music, and reading. I am a keen ukulele player - and enjoy encouraging children to learn as well.

Children learn so much before the age of five, and I believe it is my role to guide and support them on their learning journey, helping them to gain lifelong skills. While doing this I believe it is also my role to be there for whānau as well.

I look forward to getting to know the children, whānau, and staff of Churton Park Little School.

Tatjana Manabe

Churton Park Little School - Head Teacher

Hello, my name is Tatjana Manabe and I'm originally from Germany. I studied Primary School Education at Koblenz University, Germany, and moved to New Zealand after passing my state exams in October 2008.

During my one year working holiday in New Zealand (2005-2006) I worked as a live-in nanny and found myself thoroughly enjoying the work with pre-school aged children. Therefore, I was more than happy when I got the opportunity to join the Kelburn Little School team in February 2009.

In 2012, I gained my Graduate Diploma of Teaching for Early Childhood Education and also got married to my wonderful partner of seven years.

In my spare time I enjoy reading a good book or two or spending time in my garden (depending on the weather), and taking my dog for long walks.

I am looking forward to getting to know the children and families at Churton Park Little School, and learning and exploring alongside them.

Keri-ann Fauchelle

Churton Park Little School - Assistant Head Teacher

Hi my name is Keri-ann Fauchelle.

I started working at Little School in April 2010, after I completed my BEd (tch) ECE at Victoria University. The is my first full time teaching role. Previously I worked as an after school teacher and a relief teacher.

Wellington is my home town and I love it here. Activities that I love to do are reading, singing and camping. I am a member of the Newlands Baptist Church where I am part of the music group and often sing on a Sunday morning.

My family, my partner Michael and I are always going on camps.

I look forward to getting to know you.

Denise Lim

Churton Park Little School - Teacher


My name is Denise Lim and I'm originally from Malaysia.  I am very excited to begin my career at Churton Park Little School as this is my first full time teaching role.

I graduated in 2014 with  Bachelor of Education (Teaching) Early Childhood at Victoria University of Wellington.

In my spare time I enjoy playing the piano, taking my dog for walks and reading.  I also love to travel.

I am looking forward to geting to know the children and families at Churton Park Little School.


Kelburn Little School

Makenzie Kellogg

Kelburn Little School - Assistant Head Teacher

Hi, my name is Makenzie Kellogg and I am from Seattle, Washington USA.  I have a bachelor degree in Human Development, a minor in psychology, and a certificate in family studies. In May of 2011 I attended an internship with Child Youth and Family in Wanganui, NZ to complete my bachelors degree.  New Zealand is an amazing country that I grew to love and have recently moved here with my kiwi partner.  I have been teaching in early childhood education for the last 4 years and have developed a great passion for working with children and watching them learn and develop.  The past four years I have been working mostly with infants aged 3 months to 14 months and have enjoyed being a part of the intense growth and development that takes place in those early moths of a child’s life.  I am excited to be working with the children at Little School and thrilled to have more opportunities with this age group.  It is very fulfilling watching children at this age learn new things, grow, and develop their own interests.

Exploration and creativity are my favorite things to incorporate into an activity with the children.  Watching their little minds think and interact with their environment is what drives me to create unique experiences for the children that will help them grow and develop new skills.  

In my spare time I enjoy cooking, baking and crafting.  I am looking forward to learning growing along side the children and developing strong relationships with the families at Kelburn Little School. 

I am looking forward to getting to know you and starting my new life at Little School.

Louise Macdonald

Kelburn Little School - Head Teacher

Hi, my name is Louise Macdonald and I am originally from London. I studied and trained in London and qualified as a Primary School teacher. I spent 4 very happy years teaching in a school in Twickenham before moving to New Zealand in 2006.

During my teaching experience in the UK, I have taught both infant and junior age children. I have also worked with children with special needs. I particularly enjoyed the challenge of working with infant aged children, as no two days were ever the same!

Since moving to New Zealand I have spent most of my time teaching - from Early Years relief work right through to Adult Education.

In my spare time I enjoy watching sports, especially rugby and cricket. Living in Wellington has allowed me to do lots of this. I also like to spend my time with my friends.

I look forward to getting to know and working alongside both you and your children.

Ronan Kelly

Kelburn Little School - Teacher

Kia ora, my name is Ronan Kelly and I am from Co. Donegal, Ireland.  I have a BA in English and History and also studied drama at University.  Later I did my teacher training in London where I taught for three years.  This was a really rewarding experience and I love working with children and young people. 

I enjoy reading, listening to music and other outdoor activities.  I also love travelling and am really enjoying living in New Zealand.  I look forward to getting to know the children and families at Little School.

Molly Littlejohn

Kelburn Little School - Teacher

Kia Ora.

I am Molly Littlejohn.

I have been living in Wellington since I was seven years old and spent my childhood, and teenage years, in the beautiful suburb of Eastbourne, Lower Hutt. I studied at Wellington’s Victoria University for four years, obtaining a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Film and Theatre and a Graduate Diploma of Teaching in Early Childhood Education.

I started working with young children as a support carer to a family whose children have diverse learning needs. I then began my adventures at Little School in January 2012, starting as a part-time teacher who assisted with the Kelburn after school care programme, and relieved in different Little School centres around Wellington.

Through these experiences I discovered my passion for teaching, playing and creating positive relationships with young children. This then led me to complete my qualification of Early Childhood teaching.  As of late 2015, I am pleased to not only be a full-time teacher at Kelburn Little School, but to also lead the after school care programme which I helped out with those many years ago.

In the weekends you can find me at any Mexican restaurant (yum!), horse-riding around the Wanuiomata hills or reading books in the sun with my cat Bailey. I occasionally host quizzes, bingo and karaoke nights in venues around the Wellington CBD and I also love to bring my knowledge of film and theatre to teaching through the use of art, dramatic play, singing and dancing.

Haere ra!
Miss Molly.

Lynsey Burvill

Kelburn Little School - Head Teacher

Hi, my name is Lynsey Burvill and I am originally from London.   I studied and trained in London and qualified as a Primary School teacher in 2003.  I have been very fortunate to work in three very different types of schools including six very happy years spent at my previous school.

My immediate family moved to New Zealand many years ago and I used to enjoy visiting them two to three times a year.  My husband, I and our daughter have recently made the move to Wellington to be with them and are delighted to be together again with family.

During my teaching experience in the UK, I spent a lot of time working with Early Years and Infant School aged children.  This gave me a passion for working in Early Years the most enjoyable part of the job being engaging with the children and supporting their growth and development.

I have enjoyed travelling in my spare time visiting family.  I am looking forward to being able to explore more of New Zealand now we are living in Wellington.  I love reading, I also like to spend time with friends and exercising if time allows.

I am really looking forward to getting to know and working alongside both the children and families of Little School.



St Heliers Little School

Jasmin Kaur

St Heliers Little School - Assistant Head Teacher

My name is Jasmin.  I am from Hamilton and have recently moved up to Auckland with my amazing husband Amandeep.

I have just completed the Graduate Diploma of Teaching, Early Childhood at the University of Waikato.  I already hold Bachelor of Teaching (Primary Education).

I spent my childhood in India with my parents and younger brother and sister.  We migrated to New Zealand 10 years ago.  I really value and enjoy spending time and relaxing with family.

I have always been passionate about supporting children.  My passion for teaching and supporting young children motivated me to explore early childhood education.

I believe children are active learners and need opportunities to engage in inquiry and problem solving within an authentic learning environment.  I see my role as a teacher as one that will facilitate, guide and create an environment that encourages children to discover and explore their learning ideas, skills and knowledge.

This is my first full time teaching position.  I am very excited to begin my career at Little School in St Heliers.

I look forward to getting to know and working alongside you to support our young learners.



Gretchen Greaves

St Heliers Little School - Head Teacher

My name is Gretchen Greaves. I am originally from the state of Iowa in America.

After earning my degree in elementary education, I had the opportunity to live and work in one of America’s national parks, where I met my Kiwi husband-to-be. We lived in Colorado for six years, where I taught preschool and decided that early childhood education was my passion. We moved to New Zealand in 2011 and are quite excited about our future in this amazingly beautiful country!

In my spare time I enjoy being outside in the sunshine! Camping, tramping, traveling and bicycling are all activities I love. I also enjoy cooking, relaxing with a good book and gardening.

I am grateful for the opportunity to join the Little School team and will strive to help each of the children to gain the skills, knowledge and confidence that will lead them into the next chapter of their lives.



Roz Fox

St Heliers Little School - Teacher

Hello and Kia Ora

My name is Roz Fox and I live in the eastern suburb of Cockle Bay with my husband Dean, my son Harrison, step daughter Isabelle and Jake our border collie. I graduated in 2014 with a Bachelor of Education in Early Childhood, and I will be teaching at St Heliers Little School while one of the teachers is on maternity leave.  I am enjoying getting to know the environment, children, families and whanau.





Julia Pratt

St Heliers Little School - Teacher


My name is Julia Pratt and I am very excited to be teaching at St Helier’s Little School. I have recently moved to Auckland from Wellington with my husband and am enjoying living in the Auckland CBD and the beautiful weather.

I am qualified with a Bachelor of Arts in Classical Studies and English and a Bachelor of Teaching in Primary and Secondary from Victoria University of Wellington. I went on to gain a diploma in Early Childhood Education, through Christchurch College of Education.

Over the last ten years I have taught at numerous Early Childhood centres in Wellington including Little School in Kelburn. In 2013 I enjoyed exploring the world with my partner. Now we are on our next adventure living in Auckland. I look forward to meeting you and working alongside your child.

Xinyue Wang

St Heliers Little School - Teacher

My name is Xinyue. I originally came from Shanghai, China. I have been in Auckland since 2008 and I love the life here.

I graduated from AUT University with a B. Ed in Early Childhood Teaching. In addition, I have a certificate in Performance Music from a Music college in China where I specialised in Piano. I am multi-lingual and this helps me to provide a language rich environment for all children.

I took a break in 2015 when I had my boy – Zechariah. I enjoy being a mum and watching him grow. I also enjoy spending time with friends as well as playing piano.

I am very passionate about Early Childhood Education because I have a warm heart and I adore children. I take pride in supporting children and enjoy seeing them grow. I look forward to collaborating and learning from the many professional educators here.