Highly qualified staff | Little School

Highly qualified staff

Maria Johnson

Position: 
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.

 

Administration

Megan Watson

Position: 
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

Position: 
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

Position: 
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.

Susan Yee

Position: 
Accounts Manager

Hi my name is Susan. I began working at Little School as the Accountants Manager in October 2014.

I have a Graduate Diploma in Professional Accounting and a Bachelor of Commerce and Administration majoring in Accounting and Commercial Law, which I completed in between 2008 – 2010.

I have a daughter that currently attends Kelburn Little School. My daughter Mya is thriving at Little School. This provides me with an interest and perspective of a parent and the accounts manager.

In my spare time I enjoy travelling, group gym classes, spending time with friends and family, being a hands on Mum to my 3 year old and bush walks.  

Teachers

Kelburn Little School

Penny Hill

Position: 
Kelburn Little School - Head Teacher

Kia ora, my name is Penelope (you are welcome to call me Penny). I studied at Victoria University to complete my Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Education and an additional Graduate Diploma in Primary School Teaching. I have been working at Churton Park Little School since 2013, and I am very happy to have a job that I feel so passionate about! In 2015 I completed my Early Childhood qualifications which allowed me to link my current teaching practice to theory. In 2016 I went on an 8 month overseas experience with my husband, travelling around the world. This was an amazing opportunity to experience a diverse range of cultures.

In my spare time I love to do anything that involves food. I enjoy testing out new recipes and trying to make food from a range of cultures. I like to keep fit by running around the gorgeous Wellington bays, taking a hike or going to the gym. When I was younger I did Ballroom and Latin American dancing, which I have decided to get back into this year.

I value the important role I have as an early childhood teacher, which acknowledges children as lifelong learners. I aim to develop meaningful relationships with both children and whānau as I believe this forms the basis of a quality teaching and learning environment.

I look forward to supporting and empowering your child to develop into confident and capable learners. 

Makenzie Kellogg

Position: 
Kelburn Little School - 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 months 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 favourite things to incorporate into activities 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 and 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.

Alicia Houghton

Position: 
Kelburn Little School - Teacher - On parental leave

Hi my name is Alicia and I am from the Kapiti Coast.

In 2010 I studied in Auckland to become a nanny, after a one year certificate I found that I loved working with children and wanted to further my career by becoming a teacher. From there I studied by correspondence and worked in centres in both Auckand and Tauranga. I then had a gap year to go overseas and complete a six month contract on a cruise ship.

In my spare time I enjoy snowboarding in the winter, yoga and still have the travel bug.

I look forward to working with your tamariki and whanau. 

Danièlle Pillay

Position: 
Kelburn Little School - Teacher

Hi, my name is Danièlle. I am originally from Durban, South Africa and have been living in New Zealand for five years with my mum.

I studied for two years in South Africa but decided to finish my degree here in New Zealand. I studied at Victoria University where I finished my Bachelor of Education (Teaching) ECE. During my studies I did a lot of volunteer work and participated in Victoria Plus which allows students the opportunity to be involved in the community and university activities. It was a great opportunity to not only meet new people but to give back to those in need.

During my teaching experience in South Africa, I had the opportunity to work in three different types of schools. It was rewarding knowing that I was part of building the foundation for those children for their future, which is so important. This gave me the passion for wanting to further my teaching career in New Zealand.

In my spare time I enjoy reading, being outdoors and training at the gym. I also enjoy road trips, painting and drawing, and spending time with the people I love.

I am really looking forward to getting to know everyone at Little School and be part of your children’s learning journey.  

Alex Munro

Position: 
Kelburn Little School - Teacher

Hi, my name is Alex Munro. I was born in Southland and raised in Wellington. I went to Otago University in 2011, where I completed a Bachelor of Education Studies majoring in PE and a Graduate Diploma of Teaching (Primary). I’ve had a few years of experience working at the various Little Schools around Wellington and I was very happy when I got offered a full-time job at Kelburn.

In my spare time I play hockey and netball and I love catching up with friends and going for coffee. I love watching rugby and am an avid supporter of the All Blacks. Teaching is something that I find very rewarding and I love getting to know each of the children individually. I really look forward to getting to know the children at Little School and their families.

Danielle Chote

Position: 
Kelburn Little School - Teacher

Kia Ora!

My name is Danielle Chote and I was born in Wellington however spent most of my life growing up and living in Australia. I studied at Wellington’s Victoria University for four years, gaining a Bachelor of Arts and a Graduate Diploma of Teaching in Early Childhood Education. I started working with children as a nanny for three years, I then joined the Kelburn Little School team in 2015 as a part-time teacher, who assisted with the after school care programme and casual relieving.

I am so excited to now become a full-time teacher at Kelburn. I am really looking forward to building strong, reciprocal and respectful relationships with the children and families at Little School as this is very important to me as a teacher.

In my spare time I love travelling, sports and spending time with my friends and family. 

Ginalyn Yumul

Position: 
Kelburn Little School - Teacher

Kia ora, my name is Ginalyn Yumul but you can call me Gina for short. I am married and with two big grown up children. My eldest is Yasmin and my youngest is Johnne. I came from the Philippines and moved to New Zealand in 2006.  I have been an educator since 2001. I have two Masters in Education (TESOL and English Teaching). In 2010, I completed my early childhood education at Victoria University, Wellington.

During my spare time, I do gardening, tramping, reading books and surfing the net.

Teaching is my passion. I found that teaching young children is very fulfilling and rewarding. I believe that they are competent, capable and powerful learners. Teachers should provide children with the opportunities to explore and to develop their knowledge and skills.

I also believe that each child should experience a sense of belonging. Each child should be provided a warm, calm, supportive and stimulating environment to support their learning. The teachers must also have a responsive relationship between and amongst one another, family and whanau.

I am looking forward to meeting you and supporting your children in their early learning journey at Kelburn Little School. 

Anya Berlad

Position: 
Kelburn Little School - Teacher

My name is Anya and I was born and raised in Wellington. I later moved to Palmerston North while I was at Massey University, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Education and Psychology and a Masters in Teaching and Learning. After I finished studying I found that I particularly enjoyed the nurturing and caring side of teaching so I transitioned to teaching in an early childhood setting.

I’m delighted to have returned to Kelburn, Wellington where I have fond memories when I attended Kelburn Normal School during my primary years. I have worked in various childcare roles including being a nanny, after-school care supervisor, holiday programme supervisor, Red Cross tutor, carer for children with special needs, and being an Early Childhood Teacher at another centre.

I am thrilled about starting my new role here at Kelburn Little School. As a teacher I believe my role goes far beyond teaching for academic achievement. I aim to establish and maintain a supportive and inclusive centre culture that maximizes learning, personal interests and wellbeing. I look forward to building strong, positive relationships with the children and their whānau.

In my spare time I enjoy being active by going to the gym, hiking, running and playing netball. I also enjoy travelling, painting, photography and spending time with family and friends. 

Churton Park Little School

Mikaela Gerraty

Position: 
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

Position: 
Churton Park Little School - Head Teacher

Kia ora, my name is Tatjana.

I have been with Little School since 2009 – first at Kelburn, then Churton Park. I have a diploma in primary school education but found my passion in teaching young children so in 2012 I gained a graduate diploma in early childhood education from Massey University.

I grew up in Germany, in the beautiful Rhine valley with castles and vineyards around every river bend. In 2005 I caught the travel bug and decided to do a one year working holiday in New Zealand – the rest is history.

In 2014, my husband and I welcomed our son, who now commands most of my free time – but if I have a spare moment I enjoy spending it in my garden or just relaxing with a good book and a cup of coffee.

Keri-ann Fauchelle

Position: 
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. This is my first full time teaching role. Previously I worked as an after school care 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

Position: 
Churton Park Little School - Teacher

Hi,

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 a 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.

 

Shermain Cayaba

Position: 
Churton Park Little School - Teacher

Hi, my name is Shermain Cayaba. I moved from the Philippines 4 years ago. I started as a reliever for after school care at Churton Park and became a contractor for more than 2 years.

During these years, it gave me the opportunity to get to know the children better and build a rapport with their parents.

I love cooking, reading and listening to music in my spare time.

I am grateful and excited to relieve for Mrs. Hill and I look forward to getting to know everyone.

 

Bernice Baumann

Position: 
Churton Park Little School - Teacher

Kia ora, I am Bernice Baumann.

My career in Early Childhood education started in 2001. I have since worked in several centres in Wellington. Originally I trained as a primary teacher, however starting my family changed my perspective and after completing my post-grad qualification in Early Childhood Education I have specialised in teaching in the pre-school sector (something I have found enormously satisfying professionally).

My interests include reading, spending time with family and friends, and discovering some of the amazing walks we have in the greater Wellington region. I also intend to complete my Masters in Education in the near future.

I have a daughter, Caitlin, who is presently attending Otago University.

I am excited to be joining the Little Schools group, and I look forward to meeting you.

St Heliers Little School

Gretchen Greaves

Position: 
St Heliers Little School - Head Teacher

Hello!
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.

 

 

Elizabeth Fletcher

Position: 
St Heliers Little School - Teacher

Talofa Lava, my name is Elizabeth Fletcher.

I was born and raised in the lovely “City of Sails, Tamamki Makaurau (Auckland)”. I come from a big Samoan family (too many to count on your fingers) and absolutely love hanging out with my family and my husband.

It is lovely being back teaching at St Helier’s Little School as I left in 2013 to venture out in to the Primary sector. Previously, I relieved in other primary schools teaching across all age groups however knew my passion was working with younger children. 

I believe as a teacher it is my job to encourage and learn alongside children and to allow them to make mistakes in a nurturing environment. This helps them to develop their own working theories and to make sense of the world around them. 

I look forward to continuing to build new relationships with the children and families at St Heliers Little School. 

Alva Ward

Position: 
St Heliers Little School - Teacher

Hi, my name is Alva. I am originally from Wellington and moved to Auckland 3 years ago.  I have been teaching for 21 years and have worked in a variety of early childhood settings.  I enjoy sharing the learning journey with children and their families as well as colleagues.  I am curious about the world and how things work, which I love exploring with children and the whole community through various long and short term projects.

When I am not teaching, I love traveling with my husband, eating and drinking, spending time with my family and friends and exercising by walking, swimming and doing yoga.

I am excited to be joining the Little School community and getting to know everyone.

Jennifer McLullich

Position: 
St Heliers Little School - Teacher

Hi, my name is Jennifer or as my friends call me, Jen.

I grew up in South Africa where I qualified with a Bachelor of Primary Education degree (B.Prim.Ed). from the University of Cape Town. 

I emigrated to the UK in 1993 where I lived and worked, both there, as well as in Europe, until I emigrated to New Zealand in December 2014.  In 2015, I did a full time Post-Graduate Diploma in Early Childhood Education at New Zealand Tertiary College. 

I have three beautiful children who keep me on my toes - 8 year old twins, Skye and Chad and 9 year old Isabella. With work and managing their schedules, as well as the usual run-of-the-mill household going-on’s, spare time is a luxury that only happens once the children are in bed and asleep!

I am so looking forward to getting to know you and your children and to ensuring that their time at Little School is a fun and positive experience that helps instil a love of learning in them for their learning journey ahead. 

Chris Harris

Position: 
St Heliers Little School - Teacher

Hi everyone, my name is Chris. I was born in Whangarei, I descend from the Ngapuhi tribe and come from a really close-knit family. I’ve spent most of my life in Auckland with the last 5 years living locally in beautiful St Heliers.

I’ve enjoyed working in the early childhood sector for 30+ years and still love it! I’ve worked half that time on the floor directly with children, and the other half as a mentor, coach, trainer and facilitator delivering professional development courses. My experience has been across the public and private sector, centre and home-based care, and also a 4-year stint as Principal of an International Preschool in Hong Kong.  I’m really passionate about continually learning and upskilling, attending professional development - especially in the field of neuroscience, and am happy to be back putting the theory into practice -  building strong connected and warm relationships with children necessary for supporting healthy brain development, learning and their overall well-being.

Outside of work I like to spend time with friends and family (usually around eating), I sing in a community gospel choir, am active in a vibrant church, and love to recharge my batteries by being in nature and having a peaceful pajama day at home with my little cat “Teddy” and a good book.

I’m so happy to have joined the Little School Team, I look forward to getting to know you all and being a part of your children’s fabulous learning journeys.

Khandallah Little School

Melinda Buenaventura-Verchez

Position: 
Khandallah Little School - 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.

Julia Pratt

Position: 
Khandallah Little School - Teacher

Hi, I’m Julia Pratt and I am very excited to be teaching at Khandallah Little School.

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, and St Heliers. In 2013 I enjoyed exploring the world with my partner.

In my spare time I enjoy catching up with family and friends, going for walks, and eating out.

It is great to be back in Wellington. I look forward to meeting you and working alongside your child.

Alison Haycock

Position: 
Khandallah Little School - Teacher

 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

Position: 
Khandallah Little School - Teacher

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.