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 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.

Allison Whitelaw

Administration Assistant

Hello, my name is Allison.  I was born and raised in Lower Hutt and I am the third of four daughters in our family. 

My extended family has grown to include a niece and nephew whom I absolutely love spending quality time with, whether it’s inside playing games or outdoors at the park or the beach.

I attended Chilton Saint James School for the entirety of my schooling which is where my passion for education was ignited.  At school I was heavily involved in extra-curricular activities such as choirs, shows as well as many sports and I am aware of how fortunate I was to have those opportunities. 

I began a Communication degree at Massey University in 2009 but transferred to Whitireia Performance Centre in 2011 where I completed a Bachelor of Applied Arts (singing) in 2013. 

In 2014 and 2015 in between some travelling to the United Kingdom and other countries I worked in various temporary assignments and gained administration experience which I really enjoyed.  In my spare time I enjoy singing and performing, cooking, bush walks and of course, spending time with my family and friends.

Susan Yee

Accounts Manager

Hi my name is Susan. I began working at Little School as the Accountants Manager in October 2014.

I have a Graduate Diploma in Professional Accounting and a Bachelor of Commerce and Administration majoring in Accounting and Commercial Law, which I completed in between 2008 – 2010.

I have a daughter that currently attends Kelburn Little School. My daughter Mya is thriving at Little School. This provides me with an interest and perspective of a parent and the accounts manager.

In my spare time I enjoy travelling, group gym classes, spending time with friends and family, being a hands on Mum to my 3 year old and bush walks.  


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.

Fern Alexander

Khandallah Nursery School - Teacher

My name is Fern Alexander and I have recently moved to Wellington after living on Waiheke Island for 23 years, I was born and raised there. My partner and I decided to move to Wellington to buy our first home and to explore my career, I have a passion for children and photography. I have loved my time so far at Khandallah Nursey School, I love the structure and the team I work with have taught me a lot. I look forward to getting to know all of the children and families.

Angelique Highgate

Khandallah Nursery School - Teacher

Kia ora koutou,

Ko Angelique toku ingoa (my name is Angelique), but I am typically known as ‘Ange’. I am a new teacher graduate from Victoria University of Wellington, where I undertook three years of training for a degree in Early Childhood Education. I thoroughly enjoyed my time studying as a pre-service teacher, and acquiring the necessary and foundational pedagogy essential to my role as a teacher. 

I was born and bred in Wellington, and grew up for the first ten years of my life in Titahi Bay. I currently live locally in Johnsonville with my Husband Rory, and in my spare time enjoy seeing my beautiful family and friends, especially my three, and 9-month old nieces Maddix and Skylah who I adore and love so much.

I have such a love and passion for working with tamariki and whānau, and developing the essential foundational relationships to ensure a quality, early education is provided for all tamariki and their whānau. I look forward to being able to work closely with all the tamariki, whānau, kaiako, and wider community here at Khandallah Nursery School. 

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.