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BoT/Council


Shane Harrison

Chairman
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Scott Champion

Vice Chairman

Hi. My name is Scott Champion and my wife Jenni and I have two children at Wā Ora. While I’m a parent with no previous experience of  Montessori prior to our Wā Ora involvement, I’ve become an enthusiastic supporter through seeing how the approach has benefitted our children on many levels. Most of my work is in the primary sector and around land and natural resource issues. I have a background in agricultural science and have worked in tertiary education, the commercial wool sector and for the national sheep and beef industry organisation.

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Nick Mayo

Treasurer

Hi, I’m Nick and my wife, Meghan, and I have Sophie  and Bailey in primary. I have a background in accountancy and finance, having worked around the world for Deloitte’s and other high profile global companies until our return to New Zealand three years ago. I am an advocate of the Montessori philosophy, enthused about the Wā Ora high school initiative and I’m looking to add whatever value I can to this new venture via my post on the Board.

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Marina Pouesi

Member

Kia Ora, Talofa Lava. Ko Marina ahau. I’m mum to Mia in Totara and Patira in Puriri. I am also kui to Sophie in Kauri and Connor in Nikau. My professional background is in the therapies services and I’m also a writer. I love Montessori for its Tuakana/teina approach and Whānau kaupapa. I’m lucky to be part of kapahaka and to have an opportunity to be on the board. I love chocolate and I’m open to bribery attempts.

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Richard Boyce

Member

I am Dad to Sasha, Ryan and husband to Mel.  We have been part of the community here since 2008.  Raised by teachers, I have always been around the education conversation and am now looking forward to helping Wā Ora in its next stage of development.  I currently work for central government in technology and security.  In my spare time I play indoor football and ride mountain and trail bikes.

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Samantha Aldridge

Member

Hi. I’m Sam, mum of Matilda in Nikau. I started in the first primary class at Wā Ora in 1987 and am delighted to see how the school has gone from strength to strength.  I studied law at university and I currently work as a Senior Advisor in international tax policy at Inland Revenue.

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Mark Skelly

Member

Hi, I’m Mark and Dad to Alyssa in Tawhai and Sienna in Puriri. In my spare time I like anything that flies; I recently started training to fly gliders. I also fly drones and radio control planes and have my Pilot’s License. I also enjoy Star Wars (as you’ll see when you come to the next school disco …). I’m an owner of Red Hot, which is a business coaching company helping busy business owners to grow their income and spare time.

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Fiann Blackham

Student Representative

Hi, I’m Fiann and I’m a year 12 student at Wā Ora, and have been attending the school since playgroup, as have all of my siblings. Outside of school I am a qualified Surf Lifeguard and patrol during the summer. I love Wā Ora for the great relationships students are able to have with teachers. I believe I bring value to the board in the form of my experience and knowledge of the school. My aim is to represent the students’ opinions to the best of my abilities and I think that is particularly important during the process of establishing the new high school.

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Ava Szabo

Principal and Design Tech Teacher - High School

I have been at Wā Ora since 2011, initially as Deputy Principal High School and have this year stepped up to the role of Principal. I hold a Bachelor of Science and a Postgraduate Diploma of Teaching and have recently attended the Adolescent Orientation in Cleveland, Ohio. What I love about Wā Ora is the passion students bring to their learning – they are honest and open minded. I teach Design Tech to our college students and live in the Hutt Valley with my husband and four sons.

  • ava@waora.school.nz

Thomas McGrath

Deputy Principal - High School

One of the most fascinating things about being a teacher is that you’re constantly putting yourself into situations where new learning will occur. This learning is always a reciprocal process and not a day goes by that I do not marvel at the things that I have learnt in the process. My learning began in Rotorua, before moving to Wellington in 2005 to pursue academic study. After several years acting, playing music, and teaching in various capacities, I began here at Wā Ora in 2014. In doing so, I found a school that matched many of the methods that I had been trying to implement at other schools. In 2017 I have begun as Deputy Principal of the High School and it is with pride that I am part of such an active, involved, and vibrant learning community. In my down time I like to make great plans with my wife, play the drums and the accordion, sit quietly, read short books, listen to music, drink tea, walk our dogs, and tinker in the garden of our house in Newtown.

  • thomas@waora.school.nz

Tara Israelson

Nīkau Head Teacher - Preschool

I started my Montessori career in America as an assistant in a classroom in Boston and I was so excited by Montessori that I went on to gain my AMI diploma and Masters of Education in Portland, Oregon. The opportunity to live and work in a new country and learn about a new culture inspired me to join the Wā Ora community in 2008 as the Head Teacher in Nikau. Outside of the classroom I enjoy cooking, fishing, and exploring the New Zealand bush with my son.

  • tara@waora.school.nz

Leadership Team


Ava Szabo

Principal and Design Tech Teacher - High School

I have been at Wā Ora since 2011, initially as Deputy Principal High School and have this year stepped up to the role of Principal. I hold a Bachelor of Science and a Postgraduate Diploma of Teaching and have recently attended the Adolescent Orientation in Cleveland, Ohio. What I love about Wā Ora is the passion students bring to their learning – they are honest and open minded. I teach Design Tech to our college students and live in the Hutt Valley with my husband and four sons.

  • ava@waora.school.nz

Tania Gaffney

Deputy Principal - Primary

I have worked at Wā Ora since the beginning of 2010 having spent the previous 8 years working in a 6-9 primary Montessori class in Wellington and teaching Montessori preschool for 4 years prior to that. I gained my Primary Teaching Degree at the University of Otago and did my AMS Montessori diploma in New York. I really enjoy the community feel of Wā Ora and the way we can see the students develop from preschoolers to young adults as they move through the school. During my down time I like to read, and I have begun to develop a bit of an interest in gardening over the last couple of years.

  • tania@waora.schoo.nz

Thomas McGrath

Deputy Principal - High School

One of the most fascinating things about being a teacher is that you’re constantly putting yourself into situations where new learning will occur. This learning is always a reciprocal process and not a day goes by that I do not marvel at the things that I have learnt in the process. My learning began in Rotorua, before moving to Wellington in 2005 to pursue academic study. After several years acting, playing music, and teaching in various capacities, I began here at Wā Ora in 2014. In doing so, I found a school that matched many of the methods that I had been trying to implement at other schools. In 2017 I have begun as Deputy Principal of the High School and it is with pride that I am part of such an active, involved, and vibrant learning community. In my down time I like to make great plans with my wife, play the drums and the accordion, sit quietly, read short books, listen to music, drink tea, walk our dogs, and tinker in the garden of our house in Newtown.

  • thomas@waora.school.nz

High School


Ava Szabo

Principal and Design Tech Teacher - High School

I have been at Wā Ora since 2011, initially as Deputy Principal High School and have this year stepped up to the role of Principal. I hold a Bachelor of Science and a Postgraduate Diploma of Teaching and have recently attended the Adolescent Orientation in Cleveland, Ohio. What I love about Wā Ora is the passion students bring to their learning – they are honest and open minded. I teach Design Tech to our college students and live in the Hutt Valley with my husband and four sons.

  • ava@waora.school.nz

Thomas McGrath

Deputy Principal - High School

One of the most fascinating things about being a teacher is that you’re constantly putting yourself into situations where new learning will occur. This learning is always a reciprocal process and not a day goes by that I do not marvel at the things that I have learnt in the process. My learning began in Rotorua, before moving to Wellington in 2005 to pursue academic study. After several years acting, playing music, and teaching in various capacities, I began here at Wā Ora in 2014. In doing so, I found a school that matched many of the methods that I had been trying to implement at other schools. In 2017 I have begun as Deputy Principal of the High School and it is with pride that I am part of such an active, involved, and vibrant learning community. In my down time I like to make great plans with my wife, play the drums and the accordion, sit quietly, read short books, listen to music, drink tea, walk our dogs, and tinker in the garden of our house in Newtown.

  • thomas@waora.school.nz

Richard Goodyear

Kawakawa Head Teacher – High School

I have taught at Wā Ora since 2012 although I had my eye on the school for many years prior! I’ve been in Montessori education since 2004 and love it. It fits beautifully with my vision of education as being learner centred, flexible and in developing strong ethics and values in people. Here at Wā Ora we are doing all of that and more and I’m proud to be part of that. I’m married with two teenage children and fun times for me are to park up in our sunny garden with a good book and beverage or do the same in one of the mountainous, bushy national parks Aotearoa is blessed with.

  • richard@waora.school.nz

Allyson Ashfield

Kawakawa Teacher - High School

I started teaching at Wa Ora in  2016 and enjoy being part of this vibrant community and seeing where our learning takes us. I teach Occupations, Humanities, Maths and Micro economy. I have just completed my training as a Montessori High School teacher in Brisbane, at Montessori International College, and am raring to go! I also have a Graduate Diploma in Primary teaching. Through travelling I have grown to love all areas of learning and hope to share this as I guide the akonga. I enjoy being active and will have a go at anything to see if I like it. When I lived in Japan I enjoyed watching Taiko (Japanese drumming) performances and now I am part of a group here in Wellington.

  • allyson@waora.school.nz

Sarah Jane Lambie

Micro Economy - High School

I have been working at Wā Ora in various part-time teaching roles since 2011. I have a Diploma in Teaching, a Bachelor of Arts and an MLIS. I enjoy the special sense of commitment, community and belonging at Wā Ora both as a teacher and as a parent of the school. My children are in Kawakawa class and my interests include being their mother, gardening, running, reading and netball. For relaxation I love to listen to music and practice yoga.

  • sarahjane@waora.school.nz

Tanya Laybourn

Sports and EOTC Coordinator, English and Humanities Teacher - Primary and High School

I have been involved with the High School from the very beginning back in 2009. My teaching subjects are English, Humanities and Outdoor Education.   I am passionate about “education outside the classroom” and believe most profound learning comes from doing stuff that is real. Thus, I relish my role as Sports Coordinator across the Area School and as organiser of camps for the High School.It was my career in outdoor education that led me into teaching. The highlight of my year is the 2 week Odyssey that takes Kawakawa to some amazing places around Aotearoa. My spare time is spent having adventures too, including learning to SUP Board and enjoying camping, tramping and climbing with my two kids.

  • tanya@waora.school.nz

Rose Langridge

English/History Teacher - High School

I have taught at Wā Ora since 2012 and have a Bachelor of Arts in sociology and a graduate Diploma of Teaching. In 2014 I had the great privilege of attending the Montessori adolescent training in Ohio, USA. I enjoy the community feel throughout Wā Ora and I believe that studying the history of humanity helps to develop strong citizenship – I enjoy traveling through time with the high school students! Outside of school you will find me dabbling in cooking various cuisines or at a gig most likely of the indie rock persuasion.

  • rose@waora.school.nz

David Starshaw

Mathematics Teacher - High School

I teach maths and occupations (science) in Kawakawa and maths in Tāwari. I’ve been with Wā Ora since 2014. Surprisingly, my degree is in music. I travelled to Ohio in 2014 to train as a Montessori high school teacher. I like that we have guided independent learning and that our occupations units have real value to the school community (composting, bike maintenance, chickens, etc.). I like gaming, ultimate frisbee, and making forts.

  • david@waora.school.nz

Emma Stoddart

Biology Teacher and Careers Adviser - High School

I teach occupations in Kawakawa and NCEA biology in Tāwari. As the careers adviser, I also help students with options for universities and future career choices. I have taught science and biology since 2012, and been at Wā Ora since 2014. I completed both my Bachelor of BioMedical Science and Teaching Diploma at Victoria University of Wellington. I have been living in the Wellington region for a couple of years now having moving from the Wairarapa to work here at Wā Ora. My daughter is in the Wā Ora preschool and in my spare time I enjoy spending time with my family, horse riding, camping and fishing.

  • emma@waora.school.nz

Stuart Mason

Chemistry Teacher - High School

I have taught chemistry, mathematics, occupations and microeconomy in the high school since the start of 2013. Prior to this I taught in other schools in New Zealand and the UK, including a year at Athena Montessori College. Before teaching I studied chemistry at Victoria University of Wellington. I love working with the 12-18 age group because it is a fascinating part of life’s journey and it is a joy to see just how much can be achieved by the extraordinary adolescent mind when it is given the opportunities of independent thought and collaborative work offered in a Montessori environment.

  • stuart@waora.school.nz

Aurelia Farcy

Physics Teacher - High School

I have been teaching occupations and micro-economy in Kawakawa and physics in Tawari since 2017. I hold a Master’s Degree in Chemical Engineering (France), an International Diploma in Chemical Engineering from the Imperial College of London (UK) and a Teaching Degree in Chemical Engineering, Physics and Chemistry.

At Wā Ora, the students’ efforts are always valorized and meaningful to the community, which I find particularly inspiring. Spending quality time with my husband and our two bubbling daughters and discovering a lit bit more of our world every day are definitely a must.

  • aurelia@waora.school.nz

Warren Keenan

Enterprise and Humanities Teacher - High School

I joined Wā Ora in 2017 teaching Enterprise in the college and Humanities and Micro-economy in the adolescent programme.  I hold a Diploma in Physical Education from Otago University, a Diploma of Teaching (with Distinction) from Christchurch Training College and a number of industry qualifications from within the financial services industry. My interests include an extensive service to hockey and surf lifesaving, where I have been involved in many leadership roles. My passion is developing opportunities for young people within the Young Enterprise Scheme.

 

  • warren@waora.school.nz

Natalie Moreno

Music Teacher - High School

I have been teaching music at Wa Ora since 2011. I have a Bachelor of Music and a Graduate Diploma of Teaching. I really enjoy seeing students get excited about what they are learning, trying out new ideas, and being inspired by discovering new music. In my spare time I enjoy making jewellery, doing puzzles, and spending time with animals.

  • natalie@waora.school.nz

Primary School


Carolyn Bohm

Rātā Teacher Assistant – Primary

My name is Carolyn and have taught at Wa Ora since 2017. After leaving high school I gained a Bachelor of Arts in English from New Mexico State University before serving in Bulgaria with the United States Peace Corps as an English as a Foreign Language Teacher. Upon returning to the States, I moved to Denver to get licensed as a teacher and was lucky enough to be placed in a public Montessori school in Denver as a student teacher. Over the course of that year I fell in love with the Montessori philosophy, curriculum, and lifestyle and so decided to get my elementary Montessori training. When I am not teaching you can find me somewhere outside – hiking, biking, walking on the beach or star gazing.  I like to cook, write, hang out with friends and explore what’s new in science.

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Ashley Smit

Rata Teacher Assistant - Primary

Hi. My name is Ashley Smit and I am the assistant teacher in Rata class. I joined Wa Ora in February 2017 and have recently completed my bachelor of education at AUT in Auckland. Originally born in South Africa, I moved to Auckland with my family, when I was two years old, but have only been in windy Wellington since the end of 2016. Teaching has always been what I wanted to do. I love getting to know students and seeing them grow. Helping them along their learning journey, as I continue mine, makes going to work a pleasure. I enjoy spending time with my friends and family, taking my dog for bush walks and exploring new parts of Wellington that I have yet to come across.

 

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Robin Barraclough Wilkins

Pūriri Teacher – Primary

I have worked at Wā Ora since 1999 – where else would I find such inspiration? Wā Ora is a school with a strong commitment to Montessori ideals; a school with visionary ideas and innovative thinking alongside the practicalities. I believe Wā Ora reactivates the vision of education as an “aid to life”. I hold a Bachelor of Education, a Diploma of Teaching and Montessori 3-6 training from the London Montessori Centre and various Montessori 6-12 training. Aside from being passionate about Montessori I enjoy music, art, reading, learning and gardening.

  • robin@waora.school.nz

Brook Allen-Sutton

Pūriri Teacher Assistant – Primary

I have recently graduated as a secondary teacher and feel a position as an assistant teacher in the primary area would be a good starting point in my teaching career. I bring with me many skills including Māori as a Minor subject for my degree. I am also the current New Zealand Middle Weight Champion in kickboxing and through this and martial arts, I feel I have learnt discipline, sacrifice and humbleness.

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Jackie Kirk

Kauri Teacher – Primary

Hi, my name is Jackie and I joined the Wa Ora Montessori community in 2017.  My teaching career has spanned various locations, both within New Zealand and overseas, and covered various aspects of the educational spectrum up until I discovered Montessori, as a parent, in 2006. Since then I’ve never looked back.  I embarked on my professional Montessori journey in 2009 when I undertook my AMI 6-12 Diploma in Sydney.  I taught the 9-12 class at Canberra Montessori School until the end of 2014, when we moved back to NZ so our three boys could experience life as ‘kiwi kids’ and to be closer to whanau.  Outside of school I enjoy spending time with whanau and friends, exploring the outdoors and have recently taken to bookbinding.

  • jackie@waora.school.nz

Samantha Hill

Kauri Teacher Assistant - Primary

Kia Ora. I have been here at Wā Ora since 2016. I graduated with a Bachelor of Learning Management (Primary Education) in 2015 at the Central Queensland University. I have had a strong interest in continuing my Montessori learning journey since completing my AMI 6-12 Assistant Certificate, so I will be undertaking the AMI 6-12 Diploma in Sydney at the end of 2017. I love how passionate Wā Ora Montessori students are about being active agents in their own learning. Since being at Wā Ora I have felt a great sense of belonging and community. In my spare time I enjoy bush walks, cooking, swimming and playing tennis.

  • samantha@waora.school.nz

Sharon Udy

Totara Teacher - Primary

I have been a teacher at Wa Ora since 2008 having graduated with a Montessori Diploma in 2007. In 2010 I furthered my study with an AMI Diploma. I love the respectful and vibrant classroom communities at Wa Ora and the family involvement. Life is reasonably busy with two young ones but in my odd free moment I enjoy reading, listening to music, playing the guitar badly and baking reasonably well!

  • sharon@waora.school.nz

Joel Batson

Tōtara Teacher - Primary

Kia Ora!  I am one of the 9-12 teachers in Tōtara class.  I have been teaching since 2009 and at Wā Ora since the beginning of 2014.  I completed my AMI 6-12 training halfway through 2016.  I love teaching 9-12 year old children. Their energy and enthusiasm can be both catching and inspiring. In my spare time I love playing music, reading books, bush-walking and spending time with my family.

  • joel@waora.school.nz

Carol Palmer

Tawhai Teacher - Primary

I completed my teacher training in the UK in 2005 and also hold a Graduate Diploma of Teaching and Learning from Canterbury College of Education and have recently completed my AMI Montessori Teacher Training. I have been teaching at Wā Ora since 2013 and love the broad spectrum of the Montessori curriculum and the fact that the children I work with really do follow their own interests and lead their own learning. I have two children at Wā Ora and when I am not working or studying I like to play with textile crafts and costume making.

  • carol@waora.school.nz

Preschool


Dannielle King

Playgroup Facilitator

Kia Ora. I have been working at Wa Ora since 2015. I started out covering lunch breaks and relieving in the preschool, mostly to increase my understanding of Montessori philosophy as my daughter Michaela had just started. She is in primary now and I have also taken over the role of Playgroup Coordinator. It is amazing to see how much a 1 or 2 year old can accomplish when given the chance and I love sharing my experiences at Wa Ora with families who are considering a Montessori education for their little one. In my spare time you will usually find me reading, baking or cake decorating.

  • enrol@waora.school.nz

Amy Johnson

Kōwhai Head Teacher – Preschool

I began at Wā Ora in 2015 after previously working in Montessori centres in Australia. I hold a Bachelor of Arts (Linguistics), an AMI 3 – 6 Diploma and a Masters of Education. 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. Wā Ora provides a lovely environment for this ‘work’ to happen. In my free time, I enjoy camping and hiking with my family and my two young boys keep me busy at the beach, the skatepark and bike tracks but relaxing with a good book in a sunny spot can’t be beat!

  • amyj@waora.school.nz

Holly Cane

Kowhai Teacher – Preschool

Kia ora. I was excited to start working at Wā Ora in 2015 after having spent time working in another Montessori centre several years ago and to again be involved in education in a Montessori setting. I have a degree and post graduate degree in early childhood education and am training with AMI in Australia to complete my Montessori training. I really enjoy working with the children to help them to develop into creative and independent learners. In my spare time I enjoy spending time with my horse and gardening.

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Krista Kerr

Pōhutukawa Head Teacher - Preschool

I have been at Wā Ora since starting as a parent in 2005. I began as an assistant teacher after obtaining my ECE diploma from Victoria University in 2008. I then moved with my family to London to do the AMI 3-6 Diploma, followed by the Post Diploma Observation Course, returning in 2012 to take up my current position. I especially enjoy the three year cycle in Montessori Education which allows us to build a strong relationship with tamariki and their whānau. I have two sons at Wā Ora and we enjoy bush walking and seeing different parts of New Zealand.

  • krista@waora.school.nz

Marie Finkle

Pōhutukawa Teacher - Preschool

I am a teacher in Pōhutukawa, one of the 3-6 classes and I enjoy the challenge of working with this age group where every day is different. I have been at Wā Ora since 2009 and I have a Montessori Diploma from London Montessori Centre, a Bachelor of Arts from Otago, an ECE Diploma from Victoria and previously worked for thirteen years at Mana Montessori, Whitby. I have four children who all went through Montessori preschool and are now making their way in the world as young adults. In my spare time, I enjoy reading, watching films and creating with textiles.

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Kerry Pratchett

Rewarewa Head Teacher - Preschool

I have worked at Wā Ora Montessori for 4 years – it is a great environment with lots of fun and laughter. We say that the Montessori education is an ‘Aid to Life’, and it is so exciting to be a part of the child’s life at such an important time. I have a Bachelor in Education – Early Childhood and an AMI Diploma. Outside of school I have interests that tend to ebb and flow through my life; in the warmer seasons I enjoy bike rides with the family but during the colder months I am more inclined to craft activities!

  • kerry@waora.school.nz

Sophie Gaffney-Henderson

Rewarewa Teacher – Preschool

Kia Ora. I have worked here at Wā Ora for several years in different capacities but started full time in Kōwhai class in 2014. I have a Bachelor of Education – Early Years from Massey University and a lifelong history with Montessori which originally began with a Montessori playgroup in Dunedin. Since then I have attended Montessori preschool and primary, and received additional exposure via my mother (a Montessori teacher and principal). I love the community here at Wā Ora and the complete respect that the teachers all have for the children in their classrooms. In my free time I enjoy Ceroc dance, reading, photography, and learning new things.

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Tara Israelson

Nīkau Head Teacher - Preschool

I started my Montessori career in America as an assistant in a classroom in Boston and I was so excited by Montessori that I went on to gain my AMI diploma and Masters of Education in Portland, Oregon. The opportunity to live and work in a new country and learn about a new culture inspired me to join the Wā Ora community in 2008 as the Head Teacher in Nikau. Outside of the classroom I enjoy cooking, fishing, and exploring the New Zealand bush with my son.

  • tara@waora.school.nz

Imee Wong

Nīkau Teacher - Preschool

Hi. I am Imee Wong. I started working at Wā Ora Montessori School in 2010. I am an Early Childhood Teacher working in Nikau class and enjoy working with the other great passionate teachers at Wa Ora. I enjoy working with children and watching them grow into independent and confident learners. I have two children who currently attend Wā Ora. During my spare time I love to spend time with my family, reading and playing my piano.

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Gillian Johnson

Pohutukawa and Outdoors Teacher - Preschool

Hi my name is Gillian Johnson and I am married with two children who both now live in Australia. Our family came to New Zealand in 1997 from South Africa. I studied teacher training in Dunedin and hold a Bachelors Degree in Early Childhood. I worked in daycare and kindergarten settings before moving to work in Montessori environments and have now been at Wa Ora for over 11 years. I have learned a great deal, having attended many workshops and conferences as well in that time. In teaching I enjoy that every day is different and I feel great passion for working with the children and helping them to expand their knowledge. It is a great privilege to assist them through their educational journey and to see the joy and excitement they feel at what they achieve.

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Beth MacGibbon

Rewarewa and Outdoors Teacher - Preschool

Kia ora. I started teaching at Wa Ora in 2015 and love working in this unique and friendly community. I’m an ECE and Primary-qualified teacher with a strong interest in environmental education – it’s a privilege being able to explore this interest with the children who come outdoors each day. I first became interested in Montessori education after spending time in my nephew’s Montessori preschool in Arizona – I was struck by the children’s independence, confidence and engagement with their chosen activities. In my free time I like traveling near and far, hiking, swimming and foraging in op shops.

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Jacqui Smith

Preschool Kitchen

I joined Wā Ora in November 2009 as the Kitchen Manager for the preschool. One of the highlights of my role is to interact with the children in the kitchen, supporting the practical Montessori philosophy for children to be part of a community, of which the lunch programme is an integral part. My son has attended Wā Ora from preschool and is now in the adolescent programme. Weekends are usually spent either at sports, catching up with friends or in Waikanae with family.

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Specialist Subjects


Tanya Laybourn

Sports and EOTC Coordinator, English and Humanities Teacher - Primary and High School

I have been involved with the High School from the very beginning back in 2009. My teaching subjects are English, Humanities and Outdoor Education.   I am passionate about “education outside the classroom” and believe most profound learning comes from doing stuff that is real. Thus, I relish my role as Sports Coordinator across the Area School and as organiser of camps for the High School.It was my career in outdoor education that led me into teaching. The highlight of my year is the 2 week Odyssey that takes Kawakawa to some amazing places around Aotearoa. My spare time is spent having adventures too, including learning to SUP Board and enjoying camping, tramping and climbing with my two kids.

  • tanya@waora.school.nz

Gary Miller

Drama Teacher - Primary and High School

Kia Ora. My name is Gary Miller and I am a Performing Arts teacher with my speciality being Drama. I have a Bachelor of Performing Arts and a Graduate Diploma in Teaching. I am new to Wa Ora having started in 2016 but am excited to be a part of a school that promotes individual and creative thinking, which I utilize in the Drama classes. I love being a Drama teacher as it allows me to become someone new and interesting almost everyday. My hobbies are wide spread ranging from sport and outdoor activities through to cooking, arts and crafts.

  • gary@waora.school.nz

Hamish Buddle

Physical Education Teacher - Primary and High School

I started at Wā Ora in 2015 and I really enjoying getting to know all of the students, staff and wider school community. I hold a Bachelor of Physical Education degree from the University of Otago and a Graduate Diploma of teaching from Victoria University in Wellington. Prior to starting at Wā Ora I have worked at a number of secondary schools in the Hutt Valley and taught middle school PE and Science at an International School in Taiwan. I enjoy participating in a wide range of sports and in particular love to go surfing as well as play tennis and go swimming.

  • hamish@waora.school.nz

Michael Stebbings

Music Teacher – Primary

I started teaching at Wa Ora in 2016 and have been working as an intinerant music and singing teacher for seven years. I have a Masters degree in Music and a Postgraduate Certificate of Education, both from the UK. I moved to New Zealand four years ago, having wanted to come here all my life, and am loving living and working in this wonderful country. Wa Ora is an exciting and dynamic place to work, with energetic and enthusiastic students and, having not worked in a Montessori school before, I’m finding the exposure to the philosophy fascinating. Aside from teaching, I’m passionate about singing and musical theatre and regularly perform in and  direct music in shows in Wellington.

  • michaels@waora.school.nz

Lisa Chin

Mandarin Teacher - Primary and High School

I have worked at Wā Ora since 2011, teaching Mandarin to children from primary through to high school and NCEA. I have a Double Degree in Languages and Mathematics for Primary and Secondary. I feel that Wā Ora is culturally inclusive and willing to celebrate different cultures. I love teaching at Wā Ora, as it gives me a chance to experience and see the growth in students’ learning from primary up to secondary. In my spare time I enjoy singing, dancing, painting, and cooking a variety of food for my family.

  • lisa@waora.school.nz

Caro Willis

Art Teacher - Primary and High School

Kia ora, My name is Caro Willis and I am back teaching art at Wa Ora after a break to see all of my three daughters safely off to school.  I teach art to all the primary students, as well as the secondary students who choose to study it. I have a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Ilam Art school, Canterbury University and a Graduate Diploma in Secondary teaching from Victoria University. I have really enjoyed reconnecting with students and staff that remember me from five years ago and I love working in the new art room. In my spare time, I enjoy walking and cycling in the bush tracks behind my home in Waiwhetu and spending time in the outdoors with my family.

  • caro@waora.school.nz

Louane Ngataki

Te Reo Māori Teacher - Primary and High School

I have been teaching for over 15 years and have been with Wā Ora since August 2014. I hold a Diploma of Teaching, a Diploma in Te Reo Māori and He Tohu Mātauranga Māori. I consider it a wonderful privilege to be part of a vibrant, energetic and fantastic team of dedicated staff. I have four children (2 sons and 2 daughters) aged from 20-27 and I am so very proud of all my children’s academic and sporting achievements. I enjoy gardening, reading and going for nature walks in my spare time. I also love netball and have coached and umpired various netball teams over the last 20 years from primary, intermediate, college and women’s grades.

  • louane@waora.school.nz

Admin and Support


Sharon Darby

Office Receptionist

I started working at Wa Ora in 2016 having returned  to New Zealand after spending 5 years back home in Scotland.  I have a background in administration and finance and recently worked in the charity sector in Scotland supporting young families. I enjoy working with families and I enjoy the cultural diversity of New Zealand and feel Wa Ora embraces that. I am enjoying reconnecting with old friends and exploring New Zealand and its many campsites with my children now that they are a little older.  In my spare time I love cooking and baking and I’m currently working my way through Chelsea Winters cookbooks.

  • office@waora.school.nz

Donna Walkinshaw

Financial Administrator

I started at Wa Ora in 1993 when the school was a much smaller and not so busy place as these days! I am responsible for all things financial at Wā Ora and am located in the front office. I am a dog lover and when I am not at work, I enjoy biking, spending time with my family and travelling to be with our grandchildren and friends.

  • donna@waora.school.nz

Jo Dyer

Personal Assistant to Principal

I came to Wā Ora to fill this newly created role in 2009 and have enjoyed the diversity of this position as it has developed over the years. There are certainly many facets of this role to keep me busy including working alongside the Principal to ensure the smooth running of the school, assisting with staff needs, providing strong administrative support and anything else that is required! I have a son who attends Wā Ora and in my down time I enjoy being outdoors and spending time with family and friends.

  • joanne@waora.schoo.nz

Linda McCrea

Personal Assistant to Principal (Maternity Cover)

I started in the PA to the Principal role in May 2017 to cover Jo Dyer’s maternity leave. I have found that the school offers a warm environment with plenty to learn and I am also enjoying the interaction with students, who are encouraged to communicate independently with all staff. My own two sons have nearly finished their schooling and are embarking on new adventures in tertiary study and travel.  In my spare time I am heavily involved with amateur musical theatre in Wainuiomata both on and off stage and as I am local to Naenae, you can often find me walking up in the hills here.

  • linda@waora.school.nz

Relda Hermann

Marketing Administrator

I started working at Wā Ora in 2014, having already been a part of the parent community for a few years before that, and handle all marketing and communication for Wā Ora. I enjoy the variety of my role and working with a very professional and passionate team. I have 3 children, all attending Wā Ora, and in my spare time I enjoy outings with my family, gardening, reading and spending time relaxing on our peaceful lifestyle property.

  • relda@waora.school.nz

Emma Schrader

Enrolments Administrator

My sons started in the Wā Ora playgroup and preschool in 2015 and following on from this, I then I began working in the preschool classrooms at lunchtimes in 2016.  This gave me an insight into the world my children inhabit on a daily basis and the freedom they have to explore their own path. We were quickly made to feel at home in the Wā Ora community and feel very lucky to be here. In 2017 I took on the role of Enrolments Administrator. When I’m not working, I enjoy sewing, cinema and catching up with friends and family.

 

  • emmaschrader@waora.school.nz

Juliette George

Reading Recovery – Primary School

2017 is my first official year at Wa Ora, retraining on the Reading Recovery programme, having spent many past years relieving here and teaching in other schools. I hold a Bachelor of Education from Victoria University and Diploma in Teaching from Wellington College of Education. I am married with two children who have both attended Wa Ora since playgroup. Teaching literacy to students, who initially find it a struggle, is an incredibly rewarding job and I feel a little spoilt that I get to teach at Wa Ora in this capacity, being able to integrate the special character of the school through Reading Recovery. I love that each morning my children and I are now all heading to the same place of learning! I love sharing nature with my family, gardening, hanging with our family pets and all things art.

  • juliette@waora.school.nz

Mzia Khmaladze

Librarian – Primary School

I have worked at Wā Ora as a teacher’s aide and library assistant since 2005. I have a background in natural sciences (PhD in Biochemistry) and a lifelong “addiction” to books. Lately I have acquired a new hobby – gardening – which has led me to become an active member of the New Zealand Tree Crops Association. I have secretly grown peas and tomatoes on a one square metre plot behind the school library.

  • mzia@waora.school.nz

Thilini Perera

After School Care Supervisor

I come from Sri Lanka, having moved here about a year ago. I have a background in maths and physics and have taught children in Sri Lanka from 5 – 19 years of age. Since coming to NZ, I have spent time nannying and as a volunteer housekeeper at Omega hospice, as well as looking after my own 5 year old.

  • N/A
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