Skip to main content

Highly Qualified Staff

Maria Johnson

Managing Director/Owner/Licensee


Hi my name is Maria Johnson. I have lived in Wellington after getting married in 1992 (two of these years were spent in Sydney!!). 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 am married to a wonderful husband Craig and 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, both Craig and I felt there was a huge need for quality education in Wellington. We are both 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

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.

Kansas Davis

Administration Assistant

Hi my name is Kansas.  I am a graduate of Victoria University of Wellington, where I completed my Bachelor of Arts, majoring in both Media Studies and English Literature. 

I grew up in Plimmerton, on a lifestyle block with my parents and my sister.  In 2004 we relocated to Wanaka, where I attended Mount Aspiring College.  Living in Wanaka exposed me to all sorts of activities, such as kayaking, rock climbing and tramping, so that is where my passion for adventure and the outdoors began.

At the beginning of 2011 I moved back up to Wellington to attend University, where I began my Bachelor of Architecture, before transferring to the Bachelor of Arts in 2012.

In my spare time I enjoy netball, walking, running, sewing, yoga, music and spending time with my family and friends.


Khandallah Little School

Kiri Woods

Supervisor

My name is Kiri Woods, and I am part of the Khandallah Little School team!

I attended Victoria University where I obtained a BA/BTeach, majoring in education and early childhood education. This furthered my interest in working with children and helped me develop many valuable practices to support and enhance learning experiences for children in the early years. I enjoy teaching and working in early childhood and supporting the education and development of the younger years.

I first began working with Little School in 2007 where I became assistant supervisor at Khandallah Little school.

 In 2010 I headed over to the UK to live and work for a couple of years. This was a fantastic experience both personally and professionally. During my time overseas I was able to gain new skills to grow as a teacher, and explore a diverse range of countries and cultures.

After an amazing O.E. working in London and travelling all over the world. I am very happy to be back working and living in New Zealand.

I enjoy spending time with family and friends and also being outdoors exercising or relaxing! I am a keen traveller and I am constantly finding new places to travel to both in New Zealand and overseas.

I am very happy to be back in the Little School environment, and look forward to meeting you and working alongside your child/ children.


 

Katharina Kiefer

Assistant Supervisor

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 allJ.

 

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

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

Teacher

Hi, I'm Melinda Buenaventura 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.


Churton Park Little School

Penny Mulcahy

Teacher

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 Gerray

Acting Assistant Supervisor

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

Supervisor - Currently on parental leave

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 2102, 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 Dobbs

Acting Supervisor

Hi, my name is Keri-ann Dobbs.

I started working for 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 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 family, my partner Michael and I are always going on camps.

I look forward to getting to know you.

Denise Lim

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  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.

 

Debbie Bean

Teacher

Kia ora

My name is Deorah Bean (Debbie) and I am excited to be joining the teaching team at Churton Park Little School.

After originally training as a Primary School Teacher and gaining a BA in Eucation in 1990, I have also worked in Travel, Sales and even Real Estate but have always held a continuing passion for Education and teaching.  I gained my ECE Diploma through Massey in 2011.  I am excited to be in a small centre which enables a close involvement with children's parents/whanau and the neighbouring community as I feel this interaction is vital in developing successful reciprocal partnerships that allow for holistic support and extension of children.  I love learning about other cultures and honouring the uniqueness of each child I meet.  I'm also passionate about incorporating Te Reo naturally in to my practice. I look forward to working with children to explore art, creative pursuits and encouraging music and movement in children as I see both as such inclusive mediums for children to express themselves.

I have two amazing children of my own, Sarah and Ben.  I also have a step-son Caleb; so I am learning lots about the changing environments of teenagers at the present time!  We all enjoy spending time at the beach or in nature and I am a very busy Mum following their sporting pursuits most weekends.  Personally, I enjoy yoga and pilates, travel and catching up with friends and family whenever possible.

I really look forward to meeting and getting to know all the children, parents and families at Churton Park Little School.

Ki kite ano


Kelburn Little School

Makenzie Kellogg

Assistant Supervisor

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.

Jacquie Costello

Supervisor - Currently on parental leave

Kia Ora my name is Jacquie Costello.

I have lived in Dunedin all my life on the Otago Peninsular. I moved up to Wellington with my partner in November 2006, to further my career as an Early Childhood educator.

Following completing High School I took a year out of study and worked in the hospitality industry, training as a chef the following two years.

I then followed my passion in working with children to extend their knowledge and development, and started training at Dunedin College of Education.

In my spare time I enjoy spending time with friends and family, exercising, healthy eating and living, listening to music, exploring the North Island, and exploring personal culture.

I am thoroughly looking forward to getting to know and working with the children and families/whanau of Kelburn Little School.

Louise Macdonald

Supervisor

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.

Paola Malibiran

Assistant Supervisor

Hi!  I'm Paola Malibran.  I have a Bachelor degree in Early Childhood Education and have taught for three years as an early childhood teacher in an international school in the Philippines.  It is my privelge to continue my profession as en educator at Little School.

I have always wanted to be a teacher since I was in first grade and I am very happy with my choice.  Pre-school teaching is challenging but at the same time, very rewarding.  There is nothing more satisfying than knowing that I've made a difference in the life of a young child!

I value learning and experience and not only do I give all my thought and skill to teaching, but also my passion and commitment.  I can't wait to experience new adventures in teaching in New Zealand!

Hilary Slight

Teacher

Kia ora, my name is Hilary Slight and I am very excited to be at Kelburn Little School.  I have always had a passion for teaching and knew that some day I would be an educator. In 2010 I completed a Bachelor of Education: Early Years (0-8), which allows me to teach at both early childhood and primary level.  I believe that early education is so vital, as it gives children the building blocks that are important for later learning. I have a huge interest in providing literacy and numeracy experiences to children in a fun and meaningful way, because I believe it is important to give children the best possible start in their schooling years.

In my spare time I enjoy going on walks, attending the gym and spending time with friends. I am very new to Wellington and have so much to explore and discover!

I am looking forward to working with all the children and their families at Kelburn Little School


 

Ronan Kelly

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.

Steph Lewis

Teacher

Kia Ora

My name is Steph and I am very excited to be a part of the Kelburn Little School teaching team. 

I grew up in Lower Hutt and have recently moved in to Wellington suburbs and I am very happy here.

I have been working in Early Years Education for the last four and a half years ranging from working with infants and toddlers right up to teaching in Primary School Education.  I completed my Bachelor of Education (Teaching) Early Years 0-8 in 2013 which I studied extramurally through Massey University.

When I'm not working I enjoy going for bush and beach walks, reading, baking, watching movies and playing sport.  I love spending time wih friends playing board games and I am very close with my family.  Throughout the week I also enjoy being involved with my church community.

I love early years education because there is so much creativity and excitment that comes with learning alongside children at this stage of their development.  These early years are such a crucial time for each child's development I feel really priviledged that I can work alongside them and I am passionate about a range of authentic and fun learning experiences.

I treasure each relationship I make with the tamariki and whanau I meet while teaching and look forward to working alongside you as well as the other wonderful educators here at Little School.

Lynsey Burvill

Acting Supervisor

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 fo 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

Teacher

Hello!
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

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.

 

 

Xinyue Wang

Teacher

Dear Parents/Guardians:

My name is Xinyue . I originally came from Shanghai, China. I have been in Auckland since 2008 and I love the life here. I also love to play the piano, which I have learnt since I was 4 years old.

 

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

 

I would love to meet you, please come to say "Hi" to me.                 

 


At Little School we are proud to have highly trained early childhood and primary school teachers. Our unusually high staff to child ratio allows teachers to spend quality time with your child.

It also enables small group teaching opportunities, which are vital for children's learning experiences.

Our highly qualified teachers will gain knowledge about your child by working in partnership with parents and caregivers.

We will help develop children's emotional well being, relationships with peers, and knowledge of limits and boundaries for acceptable behaviour. Teachers will support children in learning strategies for active exploration, thinking and reasoning.