Our Staff

Our dedicated team at Children First is what makes our Early Childhood Centre the place that it is.  We have created a caring and nurturing environment for your child to ensure that they are able to grow and develop at their own pace
Kate Parker

Kia ora whanau, my name is Kate Parker.  I moved to Lower Hutt in 2015 from Dunedin with my two girls. Bethany is now 16 and Gabrielle is 11. I completed my qualifications in Early Childhood at Otago in 2000. Since then I have been involved with many ECE services. From Home-based to large centre management roles. This year I will also be studying my post grad certificate at Te Rito Maioho.  My philosophy of teaching has changed a lot over the years, but in the end I just love being with the children and helping them with loving life. I like to give choices back to children and let them know I am always listening. Being a busy mother myself and mostly a sole parent I understand some of the pressures we face.

I have introduced Children First to Storypark, an online application where you can instantly see your children’s learning stories. We will still continue the profile books. Please know I am always available to answer any of your queries relating to your children’s care and education.

In my spare time I enjoy fishing, motorbike riding and have a strong interest in travel. One day I hope to travel to Ireland and see where my family came from.

Lisa October

Kia Ora I am Lisa, I found my passion in Early Childhood teaching and have not looked back since beginning my career.  Since starting I have worked in a few different centres and I have gained knowledge around programme planning for the children that I have worked with and how it can be done.  I believe I am a passionate educator and believe in building strong reciprocal relationships with the children and the families that I work with to really get to know the children and to help to provide the best care and education to support children on their learning journey.

I studied at Victoria University Wellington gaining a BA in Criminology and from there studied for and obtained a Graduate Diploma of teaching (ECE).  I started my career at Early Years Wainui Road completing my teacher registration there, after being a registered teacher for several years I applied for a position as Head Teacher in the Infants and Toddler Centre for Early Years at Connolly Street where I stayed until I moved to the Community Kindergarten Naenae working with 2 to 5 year olds and then onto Head Teacher at Community Kindergarten Melling.

Phil Simm
Michelle Cooper

Born and bred in Upper Hutt, I now live in Normandale, but still have many family members living/working in Upper Hutt.  I am the eldest of many siblings and so always had young family members and found a natural ability in being able to get along with them and others of a young age.  I got into ECE after I lost my own child at Starship.  I had wanted to do ECE out of school, but joimed the workforce for 10 years before losing Alessandra, which was a life changing moment to push me to my dream job.  Outside of work I love sports and games and supporting the Hurricanes, Lions, All Blacks, Phoenix, Liverpool, All Whites, Warriors, Black Caps and Firebirds.  I play football socially on Sundays and enjoy listening to records with a few beers on a Friday with mates.

Lisa Kareko

Tena koutou katoa. My name is Lisa Kareko and having previously lived in Palmerston North where I was employed with the New Zealand Defence Force and chose to pursue another exciting and challenging career which was to become a teacher. I studied through Massey University attaining a Bachelor of Education (Teaching) Early Years, 0-8 years in 2014.
I now live in Upper Hutt and am married to the lovely Tim, between us we have four beautiful children. My hobbies include sports, keeping fit and cooking. I am excited to be working with children, parents and teachers at Children First and within our community

Kalika Black

Kia Ora, my name is Kalika. I was born and bred in Lower Hutt where I currently live with my son Jayden.

Teaching and working with young children has always been a passion of mine as these young people will become our future leaders. I studied at Whitireia where I gained a Bachelor in Teaching Early Childhood Education. Through my studies I gained a deeper understanding of the importance of early learning experiences for young children and how this benefits their latter learning. I enjoy coming to work each day and for the opportunity to be a part of your child’s learning journey.

My whānau is a big part of my life and in my spare time I enjoy taking time out to enjoy nature either long walks or tending to the garden.

Maddi Tungatt

Kia Ora, my name is Maddi Tungatt, I was born and raised in the Hutt Valley, I went to school at St Orans Colllege in Lower Hutt. At the end of my year 13 year travelled to America, where I lived for 6 months. I worked at a summer camp  in West Virginia which I did through the Camp America foundation I then travelling a lot of the United States before returning home. This amazing experience made me realise how much I love working with children and it is also where I found my passion for teaching. When I came home I worked in childcare for a year before pushing myself to study, I am now in my third and final year of studying towards a degree in Early Childhood Education at Te Rito Maihoa Early Childhood New Zealand. I am the youngest of four children two sisters, one brother and both of my parents are Physical Education teachers, so I guess you could say teaching is in my blood. I live a active Healthy life style and love my job.

Catherine Burke

I have lived in Porirua for the past 29 years previously living in Southland.

I am married to Paul and we have five children; Shaun (Melbourne), Alana and Kate (Wellington), James (Germany) and Patrick (Auckland).  We have six amazing Grandchildren.

Working in ECE seemed like a natural choice to me- after all being a mum of five I had the experience.  I started working at the local preschool part time when my youngest was one.  I loved working with children, parents and colleagues and discovered I wanted to learn more.

I attended Wellington Teachers College when my youngest was five.  Field based training worked for me hands on and practical.  I graduated with Diploma of Teaching in ECE, which was a huge achievement for me.

Working in ECE has been my passion for 27 years.  Everyday is different- it brings challenges, but is very rewarding.

I value respectful relationships with infants and toddlers and pre-schoolers, discovering each child’s uniqueness.

Building trust, security, understanding and care through collaboration with families and team members.

I work to nurture and promote the growth of a secure confident child who can communicate, participate, learn and work with others.

As a teacher I continue to learn and improve my practice as there are always new ways of thinking, new research and new theory.

I love spending time with my daughters and grandchildren.  I like to be creative- I currently have a goal of making six soft dolls to give away at the end of the year in a shoe box appeal.  I enjoy mixed media painting when I have time and my grandsons enjoy joining in with me.

Emily Carter

Kia Ora my name is Emily Carter, I live in Totara Park with my fiancé and 2 beautiful children.

I originally studied for a diploma in ECE in the UK around 10 years ago and I am now currently completing my degree in ECE through the New Zealand Tertiary College.

I am passionate about the learning and development of young children and believe through positive relationships with children and their families we can support and nurture our children to become confident and competent learners.

In my spare time I love going to the beach and taking my children on bush walks in our amazing country.

I look forward to sharing the learning journey of your tāmariki with you.

Kia ora I am Michelle Cooper.  I have recently moved to Wellington from Nelson to be closer to my grown up children.  I have been working in Education most of my adult life.  I originally trained as a teacher and taught at a number of primary schools in the Hutt Valley in the 1980”s.   I spent several years in the UK and on my return to New Zealand settled in Nelson to bring up my children. I have always been passionate about education and have found my niche working with our under-fives.  I decided to re-train in early childhood and gained a graduate diploma in Early Childhood in 2005.  If I can help a child have a positive experience in early childhood, where they discover the joy of knowledge and the excitement of learning, then I will be satisfied and they will be well set for the next stage in their education and  understand that education is lifelong.   

I have many interests.  Throughout the years I have been involved in many sports both as a participant and a coach.  I was a swim coach for Waimea club in Richmond Nelson for sixteen years. 

Music and drama have played a big part in my life also.  I was involved in theatre in Nelson and I dabble in several instruments, including guitar.  I am proud to say I have passed on my passion to my children and intend to give the children I teach the chance to experience the joy also.

Hannah Bartholomew 

Kia Ora my name is Hannah Bartholomew.  I am truly passionate about fostering positive, reciprocal relationships with mātua, whānau and tamariki. It is my personal belief that through strong relationships, communication will thrive. Positive communication allows us to learn in depth about children from their first educators (their parents and whānau) which will help us provide the best early childhood environment for them. I believe it is important for the mātua and whānau to decide how formal and open our relationship is with them, and it is our responsibility to communicate in a method that best suits the individual family.  I am excited to offer my skills and abilities to a centre that supports a warm and inviting education environment.

Noelene McGill

Hi, I am Noelene McGill I have worked in early childcare for twenty years and the last eleven years I have worked at Children First, cooking and teaching.  I have two wonderful children and four beautiful grandchildren, who I love spending time with.  I enjoy watching and playing sports.

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