Jenni Potter – Centre Director / Owner
Kia ora, I'm Jenni Potter the Curious Cubs Centre Owner and Director. We opened Curious Cubs Hillcrest in June 2013 and have enjoyed growing and developing an Early Childhood Centre that we are very proud of. I grew up in Hillcrest and qualified from the University of Waikato in 1993 with a Diploma of Teaching Early Childhood Care and Education. I have worked as a teacher and Centre Manager in several early childhood centres in New Zealand and Australia and recently worked as the Education Manager for a group of private Childcare Centres. In the last few years I have undertaken post graduate study and have gained a certificate in Educational Leadership and Management from Unitec in Auckland. I have also spent many years working and travelling the world on board luxury yachts and then worked as a crew and charter yacht agent. My husband Ian, our daughter Chloe and I live in the country near Hamilton and we enjoy relaxing and spending time at our lifestyle property.
Debbie Readhead – Centre Manager
Kia Ora, I’m Debbie, I graduated from WINTEC in 2008 with a Diploma of Early Childhood Education and then in 2012 I upgraded to the Bachelor of Early Childhood Teaching, also at WINTEC. My passion for working with young children began when I was at high school during work experience in a kindergarten. I then began working as a teacher’s assistant before undertaking my studies in 2004. While studying I was working with people who have disabilities; I enjoyed my time down that path but had to follow my passion into early childhood. I enjoy watching children develop their own theories about how the world works by allowing them the time and space to investigate through their play. I love the uniqueness each child brings with them to help build our community of learners and how much we as teachers can learn off the children. I have worked in a range of early childhood settings, from small community based centres to large corporate organisations, I was able to gain a lot of knowledge and experience over the past 12 years in these different settings. I thoroughly enjoyed my position at Curious Cubs Hillcrest as Centre Manager and i am looking forward to the new experiences and challenges here at Curious Cubs City. I have travelled overseas, as well as worked in the UK where I was working in a clothing store. My husband and I had an amazing experience overseas but were happy to return home to New Zealand. We have a daughter Kaia who attends Hillcrest Normal School and a son Mason, who attends Hillcrest Curious Cubs.
Melissa Carley – Team Leader Tigers, Toddlers
Kia Ora, my name is Melissa Carley and I am a qualified nanny and early childhood teacher. I completed my studies at WINTEC here in Hamilton in the year of 2012. My passion lies with the toddler age group where I have spent the majority of my time since training to be a teacher. I am a big believer of respectful practice and ensure that this is adhered to throughout each day. I am looking forward to working with families as partners in their child’s development and learning. Most importantly I am excited to be spending quality time with the children and gaining an understanding of their individual ways of communicating.
Kate Phillips – Team Leader Lions, Young Children’s room
Ki Ora, My name is Kate and I was born and raised in England. I have from a young age had a passion to work and learn alongside children. I have worked in all age groups and love the learning opportunities and wonder that come with each. I trained in the UK from an NVQ3 to a Foundation Degree in Early Childhood Education 0-8 years and with further study became even more passionate. In 2007, my now husband was moving back to New Zealand and I decided to join him. New Zealand became my home and I furthered my study and completed my Diploma in Early Childhood Education. In 2014 we welcomed our first daughter into the world and my love for teaching strengthened watching her milestones and interactions. I took my teaching down a different path of Home-base Educating so I could be with my baby but also provide other social interactions for her as well as keep my passion alive. As we grew we both went back to centre life. In 2016 we completed our family with another daughter, again I returned to home-base Educating. I am now ready to embark on this next stage of our educating journey together at Curious Cubs. When I am not working, I love spending time with my family and friends, getting out and about, being active and creating memories. As a teacher I am energetic, passionate, caring and love learning alongside others, following their individual interests, creating life-long learners who are confident and ready to take on the world around them. I look forward to getting to know you and your child/ren at Curious Cubs. Thanks Kate
Anthea Bennett – Team Leader , Cubs – Infants
Kia ora, my name is Anthea Bennett. After working for a number of years in the Banking industry I started my Early Childhood career 12 years ago working with Over Two's as I studied towards my diploma in ECE teaching at Wintec. After I completed my diploma I shifted to working with Under Two’s where I have worked ever since. I also completed my Bachelor in Early Childhood Education in 2009. I thoroughly enjoy this age supporting children as they master skills and gain confidence in their abilities. As a teacher it is my privilege to work with whānau using those relationships to provide opportunities for children to gain a curiosity for life and learning as they develop life-long skills and dispositions. I firmly believe that all children are unique and that we should build on their strengths and let them develop at their own pace. Ko te ahurei o te tamaiti arahia o tatou mahi - Let the uniqueness of the child guide our work.
Dorothy Whitham – Early Childhood teacher
Kia ora, I'm Dorothy Whitham and I am very excited to be joining the Curious Cubs whanau! Years ago, I was an Au Pair in Ireland, this is where I found my passion for working with children. When I returned home, I enrolled at The University of Waikato to study and achieve a bachelor of teaching in Early Childhood. For the last 5 years I have worked and learnt alongside an amazing preschool team and I am now ready to share my knowledge with our Curious Cub Whanau! During those 5 years I gained incredible experience, working with others and helping to create an amazing environment, with many learning experiences for the tamariki. I thrive on planning and following through with new projects and learning opportunities for everyone involved. I am also mum to my fabulous 6 year old son, who is great fun and attends Hillcrest Normal Primary School. I look forward to teaching, learning and sharing new experiences with you all!
Ashleigh Thomas – Early Childhood teacher
Hello my name is Ashleigh. I am currently in my final year of studying towards the Bachelor of Teaching. I have been working in Early Childhood Education for the past two and a half years and have spent most of this time working with the under twos. Working with this age group has made me realise that I am very passionate about this age and enjoy supporting the children to reach their milestones. I strive to build strong, trusting relationships with each child and their whānau within my care. I love to create an environment where the children and their families feel a great sense of belonging and inclusiveness. I’m very nurturing towards the children and their well-being and love to encourage them to create, explore, trust and make sense of their world. In my spare time I love to spend this with family and friends exploring the outdoors and what nature has to offer. My partner and I also love to go camping up North and explore our beautiful country. I am very excited to be a teacher at Curious Cubs and embark on this wonderful new journey together.
Ursula Nance – Early Childhood Teacher
Kia Ora, my name is Ursula Nance and I am very excited to join the Curious Cubs family/whānau. I am a qualified teacher, having graduated with a Bachelor of Teaching – Early Childhood Education from Te Tari Puna Ora o Aotearoa/New Zealand Childcare Association in 2013. I am married to Roy and we have a 22-year-old daughter called Tarryn. We are originally from Cape Town, South Africa and have been in New Zealand for the past 9 years and feel very blessed to be here. We recently relocated to Hamilton from Gisborne in December 2017 to be closer to Tarryn who will be starting work as a registered Nurse at Middlemore Hospital in Auckland. I have worked with both toddlers and pre-schoolers and am passionate about teaching and fostering a lifetime love of learning. The early years are a critical time for children’s learning and development and the experiences and relationships they have during this time influence their future success. I believe in a nurturing approach to teaching, based on aroha, kindness and respect as each child embarks on their unique learning journey. Children are active learners and creative thinkers and I will strive to provide stimulating, hands-on learning experiences for them to explore as they learn through play and social interaction. I am thankful for the privilege of being part of your child’s learning journey and feel very honoured to have the opportunity to work and learn alongside such a passionate teaching team. I look forward to getting to know our children, my colleagues and our families/ whānau and working in partnership with all to ensure that our children grow into competent, confident learners and communicators, secure in their sense of belonging.
Alice Hunt – Early Childhood Teacher
Kia ora, I’m Alice and I am excited to be joining the infants in your Curious Cubs team! I have recently completed my Bachelor of Teaching and can’t wait to be able to use all my new knowledge with your tamariki. Alongside my love for teaching, I also enjoy doing art, exercising, dancing, cooking and spending time with friends and family. I was born in Hamilton but have lived in Mount Maunganui over the recent years, so the beach is where I spend most of my free time. I am thrilled to be able to be a part of your children’s growth and development and am eager to share all their special moments here with you. I believe that strong relationships are a foundation for supporting children’s development and holistic well-being. I encourage these beliefs through creating an inclusive environment that promotes contribution and belonging for different cultures, genders and backgrounds. Throughout my teaching practices I believe that my values are always very present, and these values such as respect, trust and kindness are extremely important when developing strong relationships. I look forward to being part of the Curious Cubs team and getting to know you and your whanau!
Jooeun Hong – Early Childhood Teacher
Kia ora, my name is Jooeun and I am excited to be joining the preschool team! I have recently graduated from the University of Waikato gaining my Bachelor of Teaching degree and I’m thrilled to be starting my career at Curious Cubs. My interests include cooking, baking, playing music and spending time with my friends and family. I grew up in Pokeno but moved to Hamilton for studies and I am proud to now call Hamilton home. I have always had strong passion for teaching and I feel very blessed to be able to begin my teaching journey with such an awesome team! I am very relationship driven so I am super excited to meet everyone and make those connections that are so important in supporting children’s learning and development. I strongly believe that children and their families should feel a sense of belonging and well-being in their environment so I always strive to ensure that children and their whānau feel warm and welcomed in their early learning environment. As a teacher I am bubbly, energetic and caring and I have always loved sharing the amazing teaching and learning moments with children and their families. I look forward to getting to know your children and whānau.
Alison Polglase – Early Childhood Teacher
Kia ora, my name is Alison Polglase, I am excited to be joining the Curious Cubs team. I grew up in Dunedin getting my passion for early childhood from my Mum. I always knew I wanted to work with young children and graduated from Otago University in 2010. I moved to Rotorua where I started working with infants and toddlers and where my passion truly developed. My husband and I moved to Hamilton in 2015 to be closer to his daughter and I continued my work with infants and toddlers. In my spare time I love reading, needlework, baking, cake decorating and spending time with friends and family especially my 1year old daughter. I love working with infants and toddlers and watching them grow and develop at their own pace, learn new skills and abilities. I believe that the relationships are important and enjoy working with families to achieve the best outcomes for each individual child. I look forward to getting to know the children and their families who come to Curious Cubs and help with their learning journeys.
Anna Boston – Early Childhood Teacher
Hello my name is Anna. I am excited to be joining the toddler team at Curious Cubs. My passion for early childhood education began after observing my twins and youngest child build awesome relationships with teachers and tamariki and exceling in an early childhood centre. These experiences really inspired me to go and study and enter the early childhood sector, I graduated from Wintec with a Bachelor of Early Childhood Education in 2013. I believe parents are children’s first teachers and they set children up to succeed in life with their nurturing and love. ECE teachers help children prepare for life through providing stimulating environments and assisting problem solving skills in a kind and respectful manner. My personal interests include swimming, gardening and reading. I also like to provide messy play, water, art activities and music for children of all ages. I am a mother of five children, Mason and Adam who attend St John’s College, Zane, Chanel and Troy who attend St Columba’s school. As a family we enjoy watching comedy movies and having a great laugh. We also enjoy any activities outdoors (big rugby fans) and exploring our great country. I look forward to getting to know you all, being a great role model for your tamariki and building trusting relationships with families.
Shannon Finch – Early Childhood Teacher in Training
Kia ora, my name is Shannon. I love the outdoors, I enjoy kayaking, tramping, swimming, camping, mountain biking, rock climbing and adventure racing. I also play netball for the Frankton club and soccer for the Hamilton Wanderers. Last year I spent three months in Pennsylvania, United States working at a Summer camp with children. Those three months at Summer Camp are what made me decide to work with children. I joined the Curious Cubs team at the start of 2017 as a reliever and I am extremely excited to become a part of the preschool team permanently. I am going to be studying a bachelor of teaching (ECE) starting in February 2018. I thrive watching children develop new skills and try new things in different areas of their physical and mental wellbeing. I can't wait to see what my time here at Curious Cubs has to offer.
Bex Phillips – Early Childhood Teacher in Training
Kia ora, My name is Bex (short for Rebecca) and I am excited to be joining the Curious Cubs teaching team! I’ll be working in the preschool room and I am looking forward to meeting you all! I will be working 4 permanent days a week while working towards my ECE qualification. I will be starting my final year of study in February, through Wintec doing my Bachelor of Teaching for Early Childhood Education. I have loved studying in an area I am so passionate about and cannot wait to further my knowledge and experience. I am 19 years old and was born and raised in Hamilton, I’m the oldest child in my family having a younger sister. I am a very active person and love being outdoors. I’m a competitive Netball player and am a member at a gym. I’ve always loved working with children and I have had lots of experience as I’ve been babysitting since I was 11 years old, looking after children between 6 months to 12 years old. In 2014 I was an au pair for 12 days looking children aged 6 months, 3 and 4 years old. In 2015 I became a student and a reliever at an early childhood centre where I worked and completed course requirements right up until the end of 2017. I started relieving here at Curious Cubs around September 2017 and was lucky to be offered permanent work! I am looking forward to starting my new teaching journey here at Curious Cubs and cannot wait to meet you and your children! Children are so creative and energetic and I can’t think of a more rewarding career than nurturing their minds and watching them grow into capable members of the community! If you have any questions please do not hesitate to ask!
Caitlin Taylor – Early Childhood Teacher in Training
Kia Ora, my name is Caitlin Taylor. I am from Taupo and moved to Hamilton at the beginning of last year to start studying Early Childhood Teaching. I am a year two student at WINTEC. I am based in the Toddler’s room here at Curious Cubs City. In my spare time I seeing my friends and family and exploring more of our beautiful country. I believe it’s vital to build trusting relationships with the tamariki and their whānau in order for them to feel safe and secure while in my care. I feel that children learn best through unhurried, calm and positive interactions with educators that are attuned to their needs. I look forward to meeting all the children and their families and getting to know the children’s current strengths and interests.
Baylee Woodhouse – Early Childhood Teacher in Training
Kia Ora, I’m Baylee and I have been a teacher here at Curious Cubs since July. My passion for working with young children started in high school when I did 2 weeks work experience in an ECE centre, shortly after I was offered a permanent position there. I grew up in Waihi and moved to Hamilton at the start of 2017. Since growing up near the beach, I really enjoy swimming and being in the sun. I also love spending time with friends and family. I am going to be studying for my bachelor of teaching starting in 2018 through New Zealand Tertiary college. I am very passionate about working with young tamariki and contributing to their intellectual, social, emotional and physical development. I love being a part of the Curious Cubs team and working alongside everyone.
Nikki Bush – Administrator
Kia Ora. I’m Nikki, I was born in the UK and raised by two wonderful parents. I moved to New Zealand in 2000 with my kiwi husband Russell and our 3 wonderful children, who have all grown up now. Russell and I became grandparents for the first time to a gorgeous baby boy this year, which is such a tremendous feeling. In my spare time I enjoy gardening and spending time with my family. I became a New Zealand citizen last year, which I am proud to call myself a kiwi. I was a stay at home mum until our youngest child started school. I went back to work in 2005 where I worked at a well known supermarket chain in the office dealing with accounts, cash handling and other office duties. I left in 2012 to work as an administrator in an early learning childhood centre, it was then I realised this was the best job for me! I love greeting the children and their families each morning and personally getting to know them all. In 2017 I am delighted to have joined Curious Cubs, where I am looking forward to developing a great relationship with all our whanau through good communication.
Schirlei De Andrade – Centre Chef
Kia Ora, My name is Schirlei, I'm very excited to be part of the Curious Cubs team. I recently moved from Auckland with my partner, to stay close to my stepson, I have worked as a chef for the last 10 years in New Zealand, 5 years of that working with kids, helping them to grow healthy...eating healthy. I'm graduated as a Teacher (Portuguese grammar) and I have a diploma of Nutrition and Cooking. I look forward to preparing delicious and nutritious meals for your tamariki.