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.

I established Little School in 2002 and since then our organisation has grown to continually meet the demand of our families.

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 am on the Teachers Disciplinary Tribunal, and a member of the Life Education National Board. 


2012; Wellington Supreme Business Woman of the year, Wellington Best Small to Medium Business, Finalist EY Entrepreneur of the Year, Next Education Finalist.

2017; Finalist Wellington Business Gold Awards, Finalist New Zealand Women of Influence Awards.



Jane Jennings

Staff Support
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 Early Childhood Education 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 (my husband) and I had our two children Sarah and Harry. My tamariki bring lots of joy, love and laughter to our house.  My children both attended Little School when they were young. 
In 2008 I returned to Little School before joining the management team in 2010. 
In my spare time I enjoy running, walking, cooking, travelling and spending time with family and friends.

Anita van der Mespel

PA/Office Administrator
Hi, my name is Anita and I am from a small country town just north of Auckland. I grew up there, although my family and I lived in the UK for nearly 4 years when I was little. 
As someone who is passionate about travel, I spent nearly 7 years working as a Travel Consultant in Auckland and prior to that I have spent the rest of my career in the hospitality industry. I have always been around little people though, be it my much younger cousins, babysitting, or nannying. I moved to Wellington in April 2021 and joined the Little School team. 
I love travelling and enjoy discovering new people, places and food. As a creative person I like to dabble in photography, sewing, knitting and cooking to name just a few things. In my spare time if I am not making something, I will be out exploring the local walking tracks with friends or tucked away with a good book. 

Tarryn Craig


Kia Ora whānau,

My name is Tarryn Craig. I am a born and bred Wellingtonian and live in Khandallah with my husband Tom and our three sons. We have been part of the Little School family for seven years where I have seen my three boys Riley, Finn and Beau, flourish in the empowering environment of Little School. 

I believe children in child care should always feel they are being supported by staff who become an extension of their family, and that parents feel heard and respected by those looking after their child. We stand behind our core values of empathy, trust, honestly, loyalty, respect and empowerment and pride ourselves on upholding these values. 

Finding the right child care isn't just about finding a facility, but about finding a community you love to be a part of. I have made some of my best friends through Little School and revel in the opportunity to get to know more Little School families and to continue building relationships as you embark on a Little School journey with us. 

In my spare time I enjoy travelling, cooking and entertaining, reading and yoga. 



Churton Park Little School

Denise Lim

Churton Park Little School - Team Leader
Hi, my name is Denise and I have been working at Little School since 2014. I graduated that year with a Bachelor of Teaching (Early Childhood Education) degree from Victoria University. I was born in Malaysia but have been in New Zealand for more than half of my life now!
I enjoy working with different ages of children and I am passionate about what I do. I feel that throughout my teaching years, the children have helped and continue to help me grow as a teacher which I truly appreciate. I also enjoy making meaningful relationships with parents as I feel that this is important to develop children’s growth. I am happy to have a centre where I am able speak in different languages such as English, Mandarin, Cantonese, Indonesian/Malay, and Sign Language. I am also currently learning Japanese and Korean.
In my spare time, I like eating (especially desserts) and spending time with my husband, son (born in March 2022), friends and my family. I also enjoy travelling overseas as it gives me the opportunity to learn about different cultures, and do some shopping and of course, eating!


Ellie Bloomfield

Churton Park Little School - Acting Team Leader

My name is Ellie B! I graduated back in 2016 where I completed my three year degree in Early Childhood Education. This affirmed to me that working with children is what I want to do and making a difference in their lives is something I would love to strive towards every day.

I have a condition called achondroplasia which makes me a little person, dwarf. My height proves to be no barrier for me in life and working with children. An advantage of this when working with children is that I am at their level which seems to give them a sense of trust and friendship. Although they tend to stare at me at first and ask questions they quickly come to see me just like the other teachers, only shorter. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to ask me.

I love working with the teachers and children at Little School. It is great watching the children grow and explore and observe them step outside their comfort zone. I look forward to getting to know everyone!


Keri-ann Fauchelle

Churton Park Little School - Teacher
Hi, my name is Keri-ann.
I started working for Little School in April 2010, after I completed my Bachelor of Education at Victoria University. 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 Newlands Baptist Church where I am part of the music group and often sing on a Sunday morning. My husband’s name is Michael, and my son’s name is Lucien. We love going camping together and celebrating special occasions together. 


Aggie Li

Churton Park Little School - Teacher
Kia ora, my name is Aggie Li. I am originally from China and have been living in New Zealand since 2002. I have two children, Jason and Jacqueline.  
I am a trained and fully registered Early Childhood teacher having graduated with a Diploma of Teaching (ECE) in 2010 at Victoria University of Wellington. I also completed a Postgraduate Diploma of Business and Administration (Management) at Massey University and a bachelor’s degree of BCA at Vic.
I started working in ECE in 2010. I really enjoy working with young children as it has always been my passion. I believe each child is different and they will become the brightest star in the sky. I started relieving at Churton Park Little School in June 2018 and became a permanent teacher from January 2019. I enjoy building strong reciprocal and respectful relationships with the tamariki and whānau at Churton Park Little School and helping bring out the best in every child's learning journey. 
In my spare time I enjoy doing exercise, running, cooking, and travelling. I live in Johnsonville and often go to the community play groups with my children in this area.


Ying Zhao

Churton Park Little School - Teacher
My name is Ying and I’m originally from China. In 1993 my husband came to New Zealand to study at Victoria University of Wellington for his PhD degree and one year later my daughter and I arrived at Wellington to join my husband.
We have lived in Wellington for a long time now and are locally based in Churton Park. From 1995 to 2001, I gained Dip. TESL, Dip. Teaching of both Primary School and Early Childhood at Victoria University of Wellington.
Before I joined the Little School team, I worked at Queen Margaret College Preschool for 12 years. I am very happy working at Churton Park Little School, working with young children brings me so much joy.
In my spare time I enjoy walking and reading the Bible. I also have two granddaughters who visit me during the weekend. 


Shermain Cayaba

Churton Park Little School - Teacher
Kamusta, my name is Shermain. I moved from the Philippines 2012 years ago. I started as a reliever for after school care at Churton Park before becoming a part of the team. 
I have really gotten to know the children well after all of these and love watching them learn and grow.
In my spare time, I love to cook, read, and listen to music. 

Ashwini Aluwihare

Churton Park Little School - Teacher
Ayubowan! Kia Ora and hello! 
My name is Ashwini.  I was born in Sri Lanka but call New Zealand my home now. I first began working as a trained Montessori teacher in Sri Lanka. Since moving to New Zealand in 2009, I have had the opportunity to work in ECE settings in Dunedin and Wellington.
I have a Diploma in Montessori Education, Bachelor of Teaching (ECE) and a Master of Education from Victoria University. I am passionate about setting our tamariki up for a successful learning journey. I love connecting children with the tools in their environment to discover for themselves their own passion for learning and I feel privileged to see them reveal their personality through their interests and actions. I am delighted to have the opportunity to join the teaching team at Churton Park Little School and work in my local community. 
In my spare time I enjoy being a foodie, photography, watching sport, and spending time with friends and family.

Khandallah Little School

Camilla Furtado

Khandallah Little School - Team Leader
Kia Ora Whānau,
My name is Camilla Furtado, and I am originally from India. I first began working as a teacher in 2015. I then spent three years teaching at a primary school in India. I moved to New Zealand in 2018 and completed my Postgraduate and Graduate Diploma in Early Childhood Education. Since my move to NZ I have been working as an ECE teacher. 
As a Kaiako, I believe that every child is unique and I enjoy the process of developing children’s interests and providing them with more learning opportunities in line with those interests. I find this helps the children to become confident and competent learners. 
In my spare time, I enjoy cooking, dancing, exercising and going on exciting adventures.


Vicki Price

Khandallah Little School - Teacher
Kia Ora whānau,
My name is Vicki Price and I am originally from Hawkes Bay where I grew up with my Mum, Dad, and older brother Ben. I now live in Grenada Village with my partner Dave and my step daughter Ellie. 
I have always had a passion for teaching young children. I love to help tamariki learn, grow and become confident capable learners. I believe building strong relationships with the child’s family is of high importance. I can’t wait to meet you all.
In my spare time I love spending time with my family, reading a good book, shopping, listening to music and exercising.


Sophia Yang

Khandallah Little School - Teacher
Kia ora Whanau,
My name is Sophia Yang and I am originally from Taiwan. I am a trained and fully registered Early Childhood Education teacher with a Bachelor of ECE. I started working in ECE in 2012 and have been living in New Zealand for 17 years. Before coming to New Zealand, I was a primary school teacher in Tawain for more than 10 years. 
I enjoy working with children and I am passionate about what I do. I respect every child's characteristics and help them develop their strengths while they happily grow at Little School.
My husband Phil, my son Yi and I all live in Ngaio. In my spare time I enjoy watching movies, listening to music, shopping, traveling, cooking and spending time with my family. 

Deepali Pant

Khandallah Little School - Teacher
Namaste and Kia ora koutou katoa. My name is Deepali. 
My teaching journey began in 2013 in Mumbai, India as a New Entrant Class teacher. In 2015 I moved to Wellington to pursue a Post Graduate Diploma in Education and professional Development from Victoria University, Wellington. From there I worked as a reliever in an ECE centre before I completed my Graduate Diploma in Teaching (Primary) in 2021 back with Victoria University. 
I have always had a passion for learning and a desire to work within the community to support tamariki and their whānau. Little School has given me the opportunity to do just that. I greatly value building respectful and caring relationships with all tamariki, whānau and kaiako. I enjoy all aspects of children’s learning and development, especially as they take pride in their culture and identity, building their social skills and self-confidence. Their exploration of themselves in their role as kaitiaki (guardians) of the great outdoors is something I love to facilitate. I also enjoy creating meaningful experiences that empower tamariki to explore ideas, try new things, and embrace challenges as I believe in them being curious, capable, and responsible individuals.
In my spare time I enjoy yoga, cooking, exploring outdoors and spending time with my family including my husband Yogesh and two children, Aahana and Aarav. 
Ko te ahurei o te tamaiti arahia ō tātou māhi (let the uniqueness of the child guide our work).

Khandallah Little School 2 (Baroda St)

Wee Ai Teh

Khandallah Little School 2 - Team Leader
Kia Ora! My name is Wee Ai and I am from Malaysia.
I completed my Master of Teaching and Learning at the University of Otago in 2020. I also
have a Bachelor in Psychology, minoring in education. Prior to graduating, I have had the
privilege to work closely with learners with autism in an inclusive school.
I have always enjoyed learning and working with children. “Teachers have three
loves: love of learning, love of learners, and the love of bringing the first two loves together.” As
a teacher, I am committed to expanding my teaching knowledge so that I could provide my
learners a safe and challenging learning environment.
During my free time, I enjoy drawing and hiking. It is my pleasure to be part of the Little School
team. I look forward to working closely with the teachers and whānau at the Little School.

Aleisha Charles

Khandallah Little School 2 - Teacher
My name is Aleisha. 
I used to live in Wellington for six years before completing my studies to become a qualified early childhood education teacher while in Nelson. In 2020 I moved back to Wellington, spending two years working in a Reggio Emilia inspired centre before working at a lovely centre in Melling. I started with Little School in December 2021.
My teaching philosophy is based around lots of nature-based sensory play, messy play, music, dance, movement, physical play and safe challenges.  
In my spare time, you will find me in the great outdoors either hiking, paddleboarding or snowboarding or taking photos for my photography business! 
As your child’s teacher, I am really looking forward to getting to know your child's interests, dispositions and personality.


Heather Stuart

Khandallah 2 School - Teacher
Kia Ora
Ko Heather Stuart tōku ingoa
Ko Esther Piripi raua ko Craig Stuart aku matua
Ko Gabrielle raua ko Ben taku tuakana
Ko Ione ratou ko Jerusha, ko Keren, ko Livi, ko Moana oku teina. Ko Asher, raua ko Moses taku irimoto
Ko Esteban tōku Tāne
Nō Waipawa, Central Hawke’s Bay ahau
Ko Huruiki te Maunga
Ko moko te awa 
Ko ngātiwai tōku iwi
Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou Katoa.
Kia ora, my name is Heather. I grew up in the Hawkes Bay, with a large family of eight. We were home-schooled so I grew up very close to my siblings, learning together about nature and our world. I then studied Early Childhood Education at Victoria University in Wellington. 
I love learning about different cultures and languages. Although I am Māori, I was brought up away from our Māori land and whānau. My mum always made sure that we knew where we came from, though, and made an effort to bring us back there whenever we could. Consequently, I am passionate about growing my te reo Māori, and keeping it alive as well as helping children develop into the best versions of themselves as they learn who they are, where they belong and where they come from. My partner is from Chile, and having travelled there, the Spanish language and culture holds a place in my heart as well. 
In my free time I enjoy spending time in the garden, going for walks out in nature, or at the beach. I also enjoy reading, biking, creating art or DIY and spending time with my two beautiful nephews whenever I can.


St Heliers Little School

Mubaraka Kabir

St Heliers Little School - Teacher
Kia ora and Hello, my name is Mubaraka Begum (but children call me: Mubakiya, Miss Baraka, Mumbaraka, Mbaraka etc. They get it right eventually).
I come from Sri Lanka originally and studied my Bachelor of Teaching in Early Childhood Education at Wintec in Hamilton, NZ from which I graduated in March 2019. I then started with Little School that same year. 
It is my passion and philosophy to be a professional and respectful teacher. I love research in ECE and enjoy learning new things. I also like expanding my knowledge and practice as a Kaiako. 
When I interact with children, I make use of my quiet and playful nature to understand them. I value all languages a child may bring with them and cherish the smile and the bond formed through communication using the child’s native language; it is priceless!
In my spare time I enjoy gardening, writing, cooking, and reading. 


Nethmi Bangamaarachchige

St Heliers Little School - Teacher
Ayubowan and Kia Ora! My name is Nethmi and I come from Sri Lanka. I moved to New Zealand in 2015 and studied my Bachelor of Teaching Early Childhood Education at Whitireia Polytechnic (Auckland campus). 
I strongly believe that we, as Kaiako, have a vital role in fostering intellectual and social development of children during their formative years. For our tamariki’s holistic development and learning journey, I think the partnership between teachers and parents is essential. 
I come from a family of four with my mum, dad, sister and myself. My sister lives in Auckland and she’s a mother to an adorable son, Abhiru. I love spending time with my nephew and I find every possible reason to visit him. I use my leisure time to read books, watch movies and spend time with my loved ones. 


Songül Kirgezen

St Heliers Little School - Teacher

Kia ora, Hello, and Merhaba,

My name is Songül and I am originally from Turkey. 

I began my career as a Turkish language teacher and started working with young children in 2018.  I love being part of the journey the children make. I’m passionate about creating different activities to support their emotional and cognitive development as well as helping them to discover themselves and the world that surrounds them. At the same time their curiosity spills over to make me curious and their energy certainly keeps me fit.  

When I am not working, I like reading, swimming, gardening, and going for long walks with my camera. I think that living in a country in which I didn’t grow up, in which so much is new, is a wonderful help in trying to understand what it’s like to see the world with young eyes.  


Rosalind (Roz) Fox

St Heliers Little School - Teacher

Hello and Kia ora everyone,

My name is Rosalind Fox or Roz as I am known by. I live in the suburb of Howick with my husband Dean and my son Harrison, Jake our beloved border collie and Pearl our very affectionate black cat.

My interests include spending time with family and friends, bush walks, going to the beach, jet skiing, travel, going to the movies, reading and good food and coffee!

I qualified with a Bachelor’s of Education in 2015 (specialising in Early Childhood). My interest developed in Early Childhood Education from my early years of nannying overseas and then later having my son. With a very strong interest in a child’s first few years of development I felt the next step was to then study and put my practice into theory.

I have now had the pleasure of working at St Heliers Little School for a few years as a permanent reliever, getting to know all of our lovely families. I now look forward to watching the development and growth of our current and new additions to Little School.

Ngā mihi