Highly qualified staff | Nursery School

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.

After living in Sydney and experiencing the wonderful Pre-School Education system there,  I felt there was a huge need for quality education in Wellington.  I am excited about Little School's programme and what it has to offer.

I am passionate and ambitious about young children discovering their abilities and providing them with the knowledge, skills and values to make them lifelong learners.  I continually aspire to be a leader in education and thoroughly enjoy this journey.  I am extremely fortunate to work alongside a brilliant team of dedicated teachers at Little School.  Together we aspire to be widely recognised leaders in preschool education.

I have also been an executive member of the Early Childhood Council since 2008 and am currently the ECC President.  This is a role I thoroughly enjoy and again I am fortunate to work alongside a team of people who are dedicated within the early childhood sector. 

In 2012 Little School won two Her Regional Wellington Business Awards - Best Small to Medium Business and Wellington Business Woman of the year.



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 an 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.

Claire Russell

Accounts Manager

Hi, my name is Claire. I grew up in Palmerston North with my parents, sister and two brothers. I moved to Wellington in 2014 to study at Victoria University, I graduated with a bachelor of Commerce majoring in Accounting and minoring in Geography. After completing my study, I began a 12-month contract working for a Wellington based community trust. This was a brilliant opportunity and I felt really lucky to have worked alongside such a wonderful group of people. In my spare time I love yoga, walking in Otari Wilton bush, playing around on the pottery wheel and visiting my family and friends.

Anna Gibb

Administration Assistant

Hey there, my name is Anna. I am a local girl, born and raised in Island Bay, and a younger sister to two brothers.

My eldest brother and his partner welcomed my nephew into the world in 2015, and I have loved every second of being his aunty. I can’t wait to see how he develops and grows.

I attended Island Bay School, South Wellington Intermediate School, and Wellington East Girls College. I spent the years following college working, as opposed to going to university. After working for the New Zealand Police Association as a Call Centre Operator and Accounts Assistant, I began on a different path, becoming an apprentice for a hair salon. Once I realised hairdressing was not for me, I decided I should study and travel. That lead me to being awarded a scholarship to study Mandarin in Taiwan, an experience which I am extremely grateful for.  

I have always enjoyed playing sports and exercising, right now I am a part of a CrossFit gym. I also love spending time with my amazing group of friends and their children.   


Khandallah Nursery School

Samantha Jenssen

Khandallah Nursery School - Teacher

Hi, my name is Sammy.

I have always loved animals and plants. But it was having my own three children that cemented my passion for our tamariki. Children are so precious and dependent; I love ensuring their wellbeing and helping them learn. Manaakitanga sums up my priorities in life, which means giving yourself to help another. I value safety but enjoy providing challenges.

My interests include plants, music, swimming, walking, gaming and Science - including Biology, Criminology and Psychology. I completed a Bachelor of Science in Biology and Bachelor of Business in Management before completing the Postgraduate diploma in Early Childhood Education from Victoria University.

Ellie Southworth

Khandallah Nursery School - Teacher

Kia Ora, my name is Ellie. I’ve just moved to Wellington from Dunedin where I completed my Bachelors in Early Childhood Education a year ago. I spent last year gaining as much experience as I could from relieving and working over the winter in a crèche at Cardrona Ski Resort in Wanaka.

I’m passionate about continuously developing my skills as a teacher so I can do the very best for each and every child and their families. In my spare time I love to cook, garden, go on walks, and spend time with friends and family. I have moved to Wellington with my partner Declan and right now we are looking forward to exploring Wellington and putting down roots in our new home.

It is so exciting to be here among all of you at Khandallah Nursery School. I can’t wait to meet those I haven’t yet and get to know all these new faces. 

Christine Tutagalevao

Khandallah Nursery School - Teacher

Talofa lava. My name is Christine Tutagalevao, and I am from Wellington. I studied at Te Tari Puna o Aotearoa currently called Te Rito Maioha in Thorndon. I have my degree in Early Childhood Education.

I am very excited to join Khandallah Nursery School and be part of this diverse learning community. I value respectful relationships with infants, toddlers and pre-schoolers. I love spending quality time with them and discovering each child’s uniqueness. Building trust, security, understanding, and care through collaboration with the families and staff demonstrates my respect and professional practice for each child. 

I have a willingness to learn and this has helped me to develop throughout my professional journey so that I create an environment for children to become life-long learners. I am Samoan and have worked with many children and families of diverse cultural backgrounds.  I am creative, a team player, I love to sing and create songs, and I enjoy playing sports.   

Brittany Collins

Khandallah Nursery School - Head Teacher

Hi, my name is Brittany Collins, and I am really excited to join the teaching team at Khandallah Nursery School. I have been an Early Childhood Teacher since I finished my degree in 2009. Since then, I have worked with all ages up to 5. However, my passion has always been with the little guys.

I am from a small family with just one younger brother who is a Lawyer, living in London. My partner Nick and I have recently moved to Karori. Nick is a Chef and is hoping to open his own restaurant in the city this year! I grew up in Eastbourne where my mum and dad still live.

I am really passionate about supporting young children’s growth and development. I am also a keen photographer and love to capture those special moments and share them with the families.

I’m really looking forward to joining the team, meeting you all and supporting the children’s learning.

Ellie Bloomfield

Khandallah Nursery School - Teacher

Hi, my name is Ellie B! I have just recently graduated from Whitireia Polytechnic where I completed my three-year degree in Early Childhood Education. From this it affirmed to me that working with children is where I want to be 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 Khandallah nursey. It is great watching the children grow and explore and observe them step outside their comfort zone. I look forward to getting to know you all. 

Marion Taylor

Khandallah Nursery School - Teacher

Kia Ora koutou katoa, My name is Marion and I completed my Graduate Diploma of Teaching (early childhood) from the University of Waikato in 2010, and have been teaching ever since.

I gained my full teaching registration from the Education Council of Aotearoa New Zealand in 2012. Supporting family/whānau with the care of their child is the greatest privilege. Providing high quality education and authentic relationships is my main focus everyday, as well as have a lot of fun.

I play the Ukulele which I enjoy sharing with children. I live in Newlands with my partner, James. I enjoy gardening and being outside. I’m very lucky to call myself Aunty to a niece and nephew. I’m looking forward to getting to know you all.

Haere rā,