Who’s Who at Nova

Staff Qualifications

  • Bachelor in Teaching and Learning University of Canterbury
  • Diploma of Teaching ECE New Zealand College of Early Childhood Education
  • Diploma of Teaching and Learning
  • Degree Primary Teacher Training
  • Aperfield Montessori Diploma in Early Childhood Education
  • TIME Montessori Diploma 6-12
  • MWEI Diploma in Montessori Studies
  • AMI Diplomas 3-6 and 6-9
  • London Montessori Centre Diploma 3-6
  • Christchurch College of Education Higher Diploma of Teaching
  • M.Ed. in Montessori Integrative Learning
  • Toronto Montessori Institute
  • Montessori Primary at Centro Internazionale Studi Montessoriani in Bergamo
  • American Montessori Society Certificate Boulder, Colorado
  • Montessori Centre of Minnesota Primary Training Course
  • BSc Human Nutrition- Glasgow Caledonian University
  • Graduate Diploma of Teaching and Learning (Primary) –Christchuch Coll of Ed
  • All teachers hold a Certificate of Registration as a teacher in New Zealand

Pauline Matsis, Montessori Teacher (Primary), Co-Head of School and Trustee

faculty_paulineBefore the beginning of my Montessori journey thirty three years ago, I worked with children and adults with Special Needs. When my two sons were born, they became the catalysts for joining with Marsha in founding Nova Montessori. I saw the importance of schools in shaping children’s lives, intellects and world views, and readily embraced Montessori’s approach to education. it has been an amazing journey of discovery ever since.

Nova has played a dominant role in this wonderful journey and I feel incredibly privileged to be working alongside such amazing children, educators, administrators and parents, all of who participate in the ongoing dialogue of life at Nova Montessori.

Shubha Narayan, Montessori Teacher (Children’s House), Co Head of School and Trustee

faculty_shubhaIt was over 11 years ago I first walked into Nova Montessori School as a visiting teacher, it was at that point I decided to not only be a visitor, but to actually teach at Nova. Through my commitment to the children and the Montessori approach to education, life and learning I finally realised my dream of being here at Nova.

Nova is the one place I come to, to be rejuvenated as a Montessori teacher and as a human being. It not just touches my heart but the hearts of many. It is a place of learning, which invites the potential of all children and parents to unfold. Nova brings to one’s conscious awareness the inter-relationship of it all. It is an educational community of teachers and learners.

I am a Montessori early childhood and primary trained teacher. I work with children of all ages in the school. I have three children two of who went to Montessori early childhood services, and my youngest attended Nova primary school and is currently in Burnside High School.

Jackie Hawes, Montessori Teacher (Children’s House)

faculty_jackieI have lived in my home country of England for the majority of my life, and came to live in New Zealand along with my family in 2007.

My teaching history encompasses every sector, from adults to primary aged children and it was here in New Zealand that I began my training as an Early Childhood Educator. During this time, I became very interested in Maria Montessori’s philosophy whilst working in a Montessori centre and without a second thought I embarked on training to be a Montessori teacher.

I am now privileged to be a directress at Nova Montessori Children’s House (3 to 6) working alongside the children and their families within this unique Montessori educational community.

Paula Thackaberry, Montessori Teacher (Primary)

faculty_paulaI relocated to New Zealand from America with my Kiwi husband and we have made our home in Christchurch. I am a Montessori teacher/guide in the 6 to 9 Learning Community. Our two sons are enrolled at Nova, where they continue their Montessori education of several years.

I found Montessori fourteen years ago and after my first observation in a working classroom I was so excited I immediately searched out training centres to learn more and I have been a Montessori teacher ever since, working with children between the ages of 3 to 12. The Montessori approach to education makes so much sense and the proof of it is in the children; it’s a beautiful thing to see students happy to be at school every day!

My boys and I are thrilled to be a part of the Nova Montessori family.

Doreen Pearey, Montessori Teacher (Children’s House)

faculty_doreenI originate from the north east of England where I trained as a primary teacher.

As my children grew I became involved in early childhood education and it was at that time that I discovered Dr Montessori’s unique approach to learning and education, which has deepened and kept me involved and excited for over twenty-five years.

I have experience in many areas of early childhood life, I have experience in many areas of early childhood life, and I have watched with interest as Nova Montessori School and Children’s House has developed into the holistic educational centre that it is today.

I am so pleased to be a part of working alongside the children in the Children’s House.

Letitia Neill, Montessori Teacher (Primary)

faculty_letitia-2When I began studies toward a Bachelor of Education I was planning to build a career as a primary school teacher. Along the way I discovered the insightful words of Maria Montessori and the profound legacy that is the Montessori approach to education. Since then I have not looked back as my passion and inspiration for education and for life are renewed every day through what has grown from a career as a teacher into a vocation.

I feel priviledged to be here at Nova, as a Montessori teacher/guide in the 6 to 9 Learning Community, where I can share my love of learning with the amazing children, parents and staff as we enjoy the wonders of the universe.

Julie Willems-Maxtone, Montessori Teacher (Primary and Children’s House)

faculty_julieI began my Montessori journey with Binda Goldsbrough in the early 1980s. I was already a trained Child Care Worker and after returning from my OE, I was looking for something new. What a wonderful journey it has been. I met Pauline and her two young sons at The Montessori Courtyard when it was in Peterborough Street as I was their teacher, and since then I have helped set up and worked as a Directress at Abberley Park Montessori Pre-School and Montessori Casa Dei Bambini.

Both our daughters have been through Montessori (3 to 6) and for a while when they were younger I worked in the state education system at their school specialising in working with Dyslexic, Dyspraxic and Aspergers children on a one to one or small group basis. However I was drawn back to the Montessori approach to education (and reconnected with Pauline), as it is so much more compatible with how I see life, child development and growth.

I thoroughly enjoy my time in the Nova school community with all the wonderful children, parents and teachers. Watching the children grow into themselves with the support of such a beautiful environment is like watching a lotus flower open in the pond of life.

Cyndi Sia, Montessori Teacher (Children’s House)

faculty_cyndiMy journey in early childhood education began in 2005. During the following years, through my aspiration for each child to flourish and thrive into their own authenticity and identity, I began to question the more traditional approach to education. My research and yearning for a transformation in the way we see children led me to discover my true passion and the most meaningful and profound approach to life, learning and education – Montessori education! Being part of the Nova Montessori School community has been absolutely awe-inspiring; I have been nurtured and enriched in so many ways.

It is my greatest privilege to learn, grow and journey with you and your precious children as they each unfold and bring into awareness the immense potential that they beautifully hold within themselves.

Nanette Trewinard, Montessori Teacher (Primary)

faculty_nanetteI arrived in Christchurch 12 years ago from Scotland to study for my Graduate Diploma of Teaching. I came to love New Zealand, married a Kiwi and now we have two wonderful young children. From the moment I observed in my first Children’s House, I knew the Montessori approach was what I wanted for my children and for myself as teacher. In 2013 I began to study for my Montessori Diploma and was so fortunate that part of this took place at Nova. From the sense of peace and opportunity that I felt on simply being in the classrooms to the nurturing and welcome embrace of the Nova people, I knew I wanted to be part of this inspiring community.

Lily White, Permaculture Gardening Teacher

faculty_lilyLily White is Nova’s Permaculture Gardening Teacher. Lily is well known throughout New Zealand as a leading expert on sustainable food production, otherwise known as “permaculture.”

Lily not only supports the children by introducing all aspects of permaculture gardening, but teaches the children essential life skills for the future combined with a love of learning in the natural environment.

She teaches in schools throughout Christchurch, in Community Gardens, and at the W.E.A .( Workers Education Association) Canterbury. Lily is a much respected and sort after permaculture adviser and teacher.

Philip Snow Gang, Advisor to the Nova Montessori Trust

faculty_philProfessor Gang is Academic Dean for the Master of Education (M.Ed.) program and author of Rethinking Education and Conscious Education: The Bridge To Freedom. He is part of the Core Faculty and founder of TIES. He is also the developer of Our Planet, Our Home, a hands-on material for exploring relationships on Earth. He also appears in Russell DeCarlo’s anthology, Towards a New World View: Conversations at the Leading Edge.

After a ten-year career in engineering and business, Gang returned to school to become a Montessori teacher. He has been a Montessori school head, consultant and educator of teachers. In 1978 he helped initiate the National Erdkinder Consortium – a group dedicated to founding Montessori secondary schools.

In the early 90’s Gang was on the faculty of California Institute of Integral Studies as a professor-mentor to students engaged in doctoral studies in the School of
Transformative Learning. This was the first collaborative on-line program of its kind.

Today, Gang’s major interest is exploring eco-cosmological patterns and their implications for the human journey.

Philip Snow Gang Ph.D.
AMI 6-12 Training 1973
AMI 3-6 Training 1982

Marsha Snow Morgan, founder of Ripple Educational Community, later to be known as Nova Montessori School, also MA and Core Faculty and Cofounder of TIES (retired)

faculty_marshaProfessor Morgan has worked as a Montessori teacher, school director, educator of Montessori teachers, consultant, and workshop leader. These initiatives have taken her through Europe, South America, North America and the Pacific Rim. In New Zealand she is on the Organic Cities Trust at Christchurch and a principal to the Kids Edible Garden Project – a program to place permaculture gardens in government school. She is the 1989 founder of Nova Montessori School, also in Christchurch.

The main focus of her work is perceiving systemic patterns in the design and creation of learning communities. She explains, “We are storytellers, mythmakers and symbol designers. Addressing the present planetary crises through Montessori education may provide new possibilities for Gaian renewal.” Her graduate thesis was titled: “An Ecogenesis for Education: A Context for Learning.”

Philip and Marsha are also the creators of EarthTies, a virtual web-conferencing network promoting The Great Work.