Our team

Our members of our teaching team are all passionate about the learning and development of children. Our childcare centre employs qualified teachers who hold diplomas in teaching as well as degrees in education. We pride ourselves on having 100% qualified permanent teachers.

Kellie Weatherston

Senior Teacher / Centre Manager

Bachelor of Teaching ECE (FULL)

Joanne Sole

Assistant Head Teacher

Diploma of Teaching ECE (Equivalency)

 I originally trained as a Karitane nurse and proceeded to gain my Diploma in Early Childhood in 1995. I have been a teacher at Kopuwai Early Learning Centre for about 30 years. My passion is the relationships I develop with our akonga and supporting and encouraging their creativity and imagination through stories, dramatic play, music and art and craft. 

Shelley Smith


Bachelor of Education ECE (FULL)

I have been part of the Kopuwai whanau for the past 13 years. I enjoy working in our small community based, mixed aged setting, developing relationships with akonga and whanau. Developing knowledge, skills and attitudes to our akonga to help them become confident competent life long learners. I live with my husband Craig on life style block in Springvale, where we have a variety of animals.

Shannon Tait


Bachelor of Education ECE (FULL)

I have been a part of the Kopuwai Early Learning Centre family since 2008, when I held the position of Office Administrator. I began study as an ECE teacher and gained my degree in 2013. At this stage I began teaching at Kopuwai. Outside of work, I enjoy the Central Otago outdoors via my bike or running, with a trip to the coffee shop to finish off. I am married to Mark and we have two children, Hannah and Mika.

Maria Snodgrass


Bachelor of Education ECE (FULL)

 I joined Kopuwai in 2015 after starting my teaching career in Wellington and moving to Alexandra with my three sons in 2011. I enjoy opportunities to inspire provoke and wonder while still supporting, challenging and encouraging children in this unique whanau learning environment. When not teaching I love gardening, hats, Earl Grey tea, Winter, walking, and being with my family.

Catherine Gale


Bachelor of Education ECE (FULL)

I have been a part of the Kopuwai whanau for approximately 10 years as a parent, reliever and now a permanent teacher. I have recently graduated with a degree in Early Childhood Education which I am very passionate about. I enjoy spending time with family and friends, camping and the great outdoors in the Summer time. I also enjoy a good book and a glass of wine.

Julie Gadd


Trained Teachers Certificate (Primary)

Having relieved at Kopuwai since 2007, I was fortunate to become a permanent member of staff in 2017. I have 16 years teaching experience with Year 0 – Year 4 classes.  When I’m not teaching, I enjoy cooking, gardening, walking and sharing good food and wine with family and friends.

Veronica Ingram

Office Manager

I joined the Kopuwai family in 2012 as a parent and on the Committee. In 2015 I was fortunate to take on the role as Office Manager and I love it! No day is ever the same. The job is so varied, full of fun and has heaps of challenges. The added bonus of my job is being able to watch my youngest son learn and grow with all the wonderful teachers, other akonga and awesome environment before he turned 5 and started school. When I'm not at work (or thinking about work) I love spending time with my two sons Harper & Will.


Jenna Nolan

Kitchen/ Teacher Support

“Teachers have created a calm, settled, home-like environment inclusive of all and a place where everyone learns together. Parents are comfortable to stay and play with their own and other children.”                                                     

“The teachers have a clear understanding of the centre's main learning priorities and these are evident in practice.”

ERO 2016

Our Centre's programme is developed around children’s present needs and interests, the principles of Te Whãriki.

Our modern childcare centre has large indoor spaces to cater for all of our children and different age groups.