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.

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 Tribuanl, 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.



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.

Chloe Reynolds

PA/Office Administrator
Hi, my name is Chloe and I grew up in Essex, England. I graduated from Aberystwyth University with a BSc Honours in Sport and Exercise Science, and started my career in education as a Housemistress at a special needs boarding school. I then decided to take a career break to travel, visiting countries in South East Asia, working in Australia and finally settling in Wellington.
I enjoy the Wellington lifestyle; spending time outside and on the beach! I love travelling, and I have a long list of places in New Zealand still to visit. 


Khandallah Nursery School

Samantha Jenssen

Khandallah Nursery School - Teacher

Hi, my name is Sammy. I live in Ngaio with my four children ranging from pre-schooler to teenager (who are my world) as well as my wonderful partner, Zann. We have a pet dog, cat and fish. Being honest and caring is very important to me.

As a Mum, I understand how precious our children are and have intimate knowledge of what helps them grow. I am passionate about ensuring your tamariki's wellbeing. I enjoy forming trusting relationships and watching them grow. I value promoting a safe environment; physically and emotionally as well as providing learning experiences they enjoy.

I have a Bachelor of Science and Business and a post-graduate diploma in Early Childhood Education from Victoria University. I am a qualified and fully registered teacher.

I've been at Nursery School since it opened. I feel very lucky being a part of the fantastic Nursery School community, including working with and supporting our wonderful team of kaiako and our lovely whānau.

Ellie Southworth

Khandallah Nursery School - Teacher
Kia Ora, my name is Ellie and it has been a pleasure to teach at Khandallah Nursery school for two years now!
The Nursery is where I have begun my career and become a fully registered teacher. I am continuously learning with and from the other Kaiako (teachers), whānau (families) and tamariki (children) and further enhancing my love of early childhood teaching. It is the most rewarding and fulfiling job I could ask for.
I completed my ECE degree at Otago University and lived in Dunedin and Wanaka for another year before deciding to move to Wellington with my partner, Declan. We live together with our cat, Khaos, in Ngaio. Both our families live in Christchurch so we take every opportunity to visit them. 
In my spare time I love to be creative and often make my own teaching resources to share with the children I work with. I also enjoy keeping active and walking the Mt Kaukau track. One of my big passions at the moment is learning New Zealand Sign Language.
Thank you to the Nursery community for helping me to grow as a kaiako and develop a teaching practise and philosophy based around respect for every child. 

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.

I joined the Khandallah Nursery in May 2017 as a teacher, and became Team Leader in August 2017, having been a Head Teacher at another preschool for approximately 5 years.

I have been teaching since I finished my degree back in 2009. I have worked with all ages up to 5, however my calling and my passion lies with the under twos. I have always been fascinated by the developmental stages of infants and toddlers and I adore being part of this fundamental stage for them.

I come from a very small family with only my mum, dad, and one brother. My brother and his fiancé live in London. My mum and dad live in Eastbourne which is where they have been since I was a small child. My Partner and I live in Karori with our beautiful cat Carlie. Nick is a chef and hopes to have his own Burger restaurant in the city, in the not too distant future. We hope to start a family of our own at some point in the coming years, but in the mean time, we are both working hard to ensure when the time is right we can support our growing family.

Being a part of the Nursery team has helped me grow as a teacher, a leader, and a person. I thoroughly enjoy working with this amazing bunch of teachers and love supporting them as well as the children.

Rhiannon Lattaway

My name is Rhiannon, but you can call me Rhi (Ree). 
Much of my free time is spent with my partner Isaac, gaming, playing with my dog and going for long walks. I love to learn and to challenge myself to look outside of the box, so I’ve become a jack-of-all-trades. Most of all, I enjoy having fun and encouraging others to try new things! 
My passion in life (after kids!) is words, in particular writing novels—because I can’t get enough of the written word—which led me to obtaining a Bachelor’s degree in Linguistics and Creative writing. I started my career in childcare during my high school years and for several years after, but  because I wanted to explore other professions, I have spent most of my career working in administration or other customer service based positions. However, I have never felt more complete or found as much enjoyment in my work life than I have working in Early Childcare where I get to mentor the children to becoming the best versions of themselves.
I would like to pursue a post-graduate degree in Early Childcare in the future, but for now, I’m going to continue to learn from my peers and the children to develop strategies and improve upon the skills I have gained thus far.

Nethmi Bangamaarachchige

Khandallah Nursery School- Teacher
Ayubowan, Kia Ora!
My name is Nethmi and I come from a small island in the Indian ocean- Sri Lanka. This is where I was born and brought up. After living for nineteen years in my motherland, I decided to move to New Zealand in 2015 and I first landed in Auckland. My passion for children and my interest to further study child psychology led me to choose an Early Childhood teaching career. I completed my degree from Whitireia Polytechnic (Auckland campus) and I am delighted to begin my career at Khandallah Nursery School.
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. 
I strongly believe that we as kaiako in the learning setting have a vital role in fostering intellectual and social development of children during their formative years. This learning journey of children wouldn’t be completed without the contribution of parents- our partnership with you as parents is important for the tamariki’s holistic development.