Our People

Sue Wilson
Centre Manager

My name is Sue Wilson and I have two children who are now adults.  I have over 25 years’ experience in Early Childhood with a Diploma of Early Childhood Teaching and Montessori training and experience. I am the Centre Manager of Little Earth Montessori Queenstown and was the original Manager for this centre when it was set up, so I have a very strong connection and passion for this centre.  I have had many exciting opportunities within the Early Childhood industry and have been teaching and managing education centres in both New Zealand and Australia.  

Throughout my career I have seen many changes and improvements to the quality of care for all of our children with the teaching standards improving and becoming professional. My personal philosophy is one of respect for our children, our families and our teachers and to ensure there is quality of care and education at all times.  I have much knowledge and experience to support our educators and our families and I enjoy sharing this and encouraging my educators to grow and become the best that they can be. I maintain the Montessori philosophy and enjoy providing the unique equipment that focuses on specific skills that relate to the development of children's learning in literacy and numeracy.  I value an environment that is orderly, respectful and responds to each child's individual interests where they can become confident and competent learners while learning a love of learning.

Eden Coulter
Administrator/Van Driver

My family and I have recently and happily returned to our hometown Queenstown after 5 years in Australia. I am a mother of one to a beautiful little girl who attends Montessori and is thriving. I have a strong background in administration, customer service and love working with children. The team here are great to work with and the approach and values of a Montessori school is pretty special to be a part of.

Jane McLeod
Mohiotanga (Knowledge) Room 1 Teacher

Jane has worked at Little Earth Montessori Queenstown from the beginning, initially hired by Sue. Jane has worked in all the rooms at the Centre in varying positions depending on family and study commitments. Jane likes taking a critical look at the child and planning experiences that foster a love of learning which is a life long journey. For me what I love about Little Earth apart from the expansive grounds and the amazing gardens is the Montessori activities for teaching math’s, it is structure that identifies the quality, it is so key in my understanding to foundational learning and math’s for the children in primary and secondary and beyond. I’ve experienced this in my own children and also in my studies last year in education and mathematics postgraduate paper. I could see they identified for me where the children are having misunderstanding about mathematical concepts and I brought that down to E.C.E to see how I can alleviate or teach to the best processes to help them learn maths throughout primary and secondary school.

Raylene Williams
Mohiotanga (Knowledge) Room 1 Teacher

Raylene has worked at Little Earth Montessori Queenstown for 6 years and has dedicated herself to the toddlers in the Kaitoro room (3) most of this time.  Since late 2017 Raylene has joined Jane in room 1. Drawing upon years of hand-on experience in raising her own children, as well as being active in helping with grandchildren, Raylene enjoys teaching the children about the important things in life - how seeds grow, the importance of gardening and sustainable practice to help conserve our beautiful planet. Raylene uses experience gained as a teacher’s aide in the primary sector to help guide children towards school readiness.

I love our wonderful outdoor area because I think it’s a natural environment for the children to explore, to grow, to play, and to experience nature in its natural state. I enjoy sharing my love of literacy and I love reading to the children because there’s much to learn from books.  This is such an interactive activity with the children where a lot of other things happen such as building relationships with the children, finding information about what they enjoy and what their interests are so then you can relate back to the rest of their other learning in the classroom as well. I also love the supportive teamwork so that’s teachers supporting teachers, teacher supporting children as well as parents, the whole supportive environment.

Michelle Roberts
Matauranga (Wisdom) Room 2 Teacher

Hello, my name is Michelle Roberts. Before I go any further, I would like you to know that I love my job and feel privileged to be a teacher at Little Earth Montessori.  I am very passionate about what I do and believe that teachers ‘certainly do have one of the best and most important occupations in the world.  I love what I do and do what I love!

Now, for the rest …….

I have been teaching and working with children for 25 years. In South Africa I obtained a 3-year Diploma in ECE.  I worked at a number of schools (including Montessori schools) as well as setting up my very own school at home.  In addition, I hold a certificate (2 year course) in Life Skills and Counselling. I ran my own counselling business and counselled children as well as their parents at various Primary Schools. I have also worked with Special Needs children.

I am a qualified Montessori Teacher and strongly support the Montessori Philosophy.

Dandan Zhao
Kaitoro (Explorer) Room 3 Teacher

 My name is Dandan and I am from China. I possess nearly four years of progressive experience in the educational field. I graduated from the university of East Anglia with a master degree in 2012. In order to follow my passion in teaching I decided to study Early Childhood Education with New Zealand Tertiary College in 2016. After a year studying I am now a qualified teacher in New Zealand.

I enjoy doing yoga, traveling and learning new languages. I love spending time with children and I view them as unique individuals who all deserve a unique experience with their education. I believe and encourage uniqueness of each student. Being different is great and can take the world forward. I value hands-on learning experience and learning through playing and different resources.

I am looking forward to having an awesome learning journey with everyone in the Little Earth Montessori!

Melinda Steltman
Kaitoro (Explorer) Room 3 Teacher

My name is Melinda and I’m from the Netherlands. I have got a bachelor’s degree in social work and I worked as a social worker in mental health care before I left home to travel and work abroad two and a half years ago. Whilst studying I specialized in youth & families and did several internships. After finishing my studies, I worked as a mentor in several residential units within the age range of 2 till approximately 70 years old, I also worked as an outpatient mentor for families and worked in after school care. Before coming to New Zealand, I worked as an Au pair in Australia for 6 months, with children between the age of 1 and 15 year old.

Working in so many different places with different clients has made me very flexible. And individual approach is very important to me because of that.

What makes little earth Montessori special is that there is a very natural and calm atmosphere where it feels safe, it is predictable and at the same time there is a lot of attention and strive for personal and individual growth.

Anjalika Kodikara
Kaitoro (Explorer) Room 3 Teacher

I am Anjalika, from the beautiful island Sri Lanka. I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in the year 2014. I began working as a volunteer right after my graduation with young children between the ages of 8 – 12, who were experiencing trauma and depression. Opening my heart to these children was my first step towards teaching. Later I worked at a Montessori where I assisted teachers with their daily activities with the children. With this experience from my country, I have learnt that children are born with confidence and the potential to grow in music, art, science, culinary arts and all other fields of study. And I believe that it is our duty as adults to assist in furthering these talents. In order to further learn about children and gain experience working with them, I came to New Zealand a year ago. I have completed my post graduate diploma in ECE and currently enjoy working at the Little Earth Queenstown Montessori with a great team of teachers. I hope that I will be able to support the teachers and provide guidance for the development of the children. I hope to take this experience with me to continue my future studies learning more about the potential and physical development of children.

Karen Cowie
Whakamana (Empowerment) Room 4 Teacher

Kia Ora, 

My name is Karen and I have been working at Little Earth Montessori Queenstown since October 2016. I am a fully registered ECE teacher with a Diploma in Early childhood teaching, and I also have a Montessori Diploma for teaching 3 to 6 year olds. I live in Arrowtown with my husband Murray and have 4 grown children and grandchildren. Every day I walk into the playground at Montessori and think how lucky I am to be working in such a beautiful environment, we are so lucky to be able to have all the fruit trees for shade and to harvest their fruit, and also and environment that we can use as part of our classroom. I really enjoy working with younger children as not one day is the same and I am learning something new from them every day. The children are our future and I feel very privileged to be able to give them a great start to their learning journey in life. 

 I like the way nature plays a big part of our programme.   Queenstown Montessori is a very peaceful and calm environment and I love the relationships we make with the children and the families, and also the relationships that the teachers have got as well. There’s a wealth of experience. The way that the children make their own choices and the conversations they have with the teachers, and that we allow them to do that, is an amazing way of learning which is not only teaching them independent but self-responsibility. I would like to think that literacy, music and art are my main strengths and I do my best to pass on to the children what I know.

Andrea Collins
Whakamana (Empowerment) Room 4

Kia ora

My name is Andrea and I have worked at Little Earth Montessori for over five years. I am currently completing my third year of my Bachelor of Teaching degree.

I value the importance of building whanaungatanga and manaakitangi with all parents, whānau, staff and tamariki who I work with, this enabling strong reciprocal relationships to form. I believe that all tamariki should be given equal opportunities to excel within the centre environment and a chance to return to favourite activities.

As a kaiako I aim to provide a curriculum in which ngā tamariki social and emotional competency is enhanced. Emotions are an integral part to self-worth, they help tamariki to understand the world around them and can affect the way in which tamariki interact with peers. As a kaiako, I believe it is important that we acknowledge ngā tamariki feelings and encourage tamariki to verbally express how they are feeling, thus enabling them to put words to their emotions. I believe tamariki need to be able to understand their own feelings before they can develop a sense of empathy for others.

I am furthering my understanding and knowledge in a variety of different teaching strategies and pedagogies to ensure that I can create a rich learning environment for all tamariki and whānau. These strategies range from low interaction such as acknowledging children’s learning, to explicit teaching strategies such as directing. I aim to provide a programme and environment that reflects both individual and group needs, while promoting all ngā tamariki interests, culture and development through play.

Resident Rabbit
Chick in Charge
Friendly Fowl

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