Star Team

Click on a team member to find out more

MELISSA LAING | DIPTCH (ECE) | OWNER/MANAGER | FULL TIME

Hi, I’m Melissa Laing the owner and manager of Star Early Learning. I started Star in June 2010 because I wanted a place that advocates for children and gives them ample opportunities to explore and develop at their own pace.

I wanted to create a space that I would have wanted to play and explore in, similar to my own childhood, filled with many rich sensory experiences in the natural environment.

I believe that with the help of an amazing team, we succeeded in this and have created Star to be standout in its field. I am extremely proud to be a part of it.

I love working alongside my team, getting to know each of their passions and strengths, and utilizing these at the Centre. I love coming into work each day and couldn’t ask for a better job.

Casey McLennan | BT (ECE) | Head Teacher | Full Time

Kia ora my name is Casey McLennan and I am the head teacher here at Star Early Learning. I have two children, Stella and Roman that are the absolute loves of my life. We try to go on many adventures together in our spare time and I simply adore my role as a mother. I love my role at Star, which began in February 2013.  Shortly after starting I began my journey working towards a Bachelor of Early Childhood Education, in which I graduated in 2016. My passion in life is for children and providing a safe, nurturing environment for them to learn and thrive. My goal is to create an environment where families feel comfortable that their most treasured possessions are being cared for by people they know and trust. I recognise this can be a hard time to think about early education for infants and toddlers but when you have a team so passionate about caring for your whānau hopefully this transition can be an easy one!

RACHAEL BRODIE | BEd (ECE) | 2IC Teacher | FULL TIME

Kia ora, I’m Rachael. I have a bachelor of education and have worked in Early Childhood Education since 2006 both in Wellington and Nelson. I live in Brightwater with my husband and our three boys. We love going camping, having weekend adventures and spending time in the outdoors. 

My passion in ECE is in infants and toddlers and especially to be inspired by pikler principles. I love supporting children to be involved in respectful routine times and to delight in rituals throughout their day. After a few years being away from ECE it is wonderful to be back and to be part of such a forward thinking and passionate team. I look forward to getting to know all the families and tamariki here at Star. 

ABBY PESTELL | BTL (ECE) | Teacher | FULL TIME

Kia ora, my name is Abby Pestell. I grew up in Nelson, when I finished high school I then moved to Melbourne to study dance for a year where I completed a certificate 4 in Dance. In my second year in Melbourne I worked as a nanny and at Mount Hotham Ski Field at a children’s snow park. After 2 years in Melbourne I moved to Christchurch to begin my studies as a teacher. I have a Bachelor in Teaching and Learning (Early Childhood). I found my passion for working with infants and toddlers when I was on a placement here at Star whilst studying at Canterbury University. After completing my studies I taught in Christchurch for over a year and have now moved back to Nelson to be closer to my family.  From a very young age my Mum said I would always talk about wanting to be a teacher when I ‘grow up’ and well here I am. I love watching children grow and learn, I enjoy being part of their learning journey, supporting them where I can and scaffolding their learning, also building relationships with their family and whānau. I look forward to getting to know you and your child and sharing special moments with them as we start our journey together. 

SOPHIE MARSHALL | DIPTCH (ECE) | Teacher | Part Time

Hello my name is Sophie Marshall, My teaching journey started in 2004 when I left sunny Nelson to begin my early childhood study in Christchurch. Since then I have had experience working in both a teacher and head teacher role in several different centres in Christchurch and Nelson.

I began teaching at Star Early Learning in August 2012 and soon discovered my passion for working with children aged under 2. I began teaching at Star Early Learning in August 2012 and soon discovered my passion for working with children aged under 2.

In 2015 I took some time off teaching as my husband Luke and I welcomed our beautiful wee daughter Mila into our family and again in 2018 to welcome our son Anderson.

What I love most about Star is the respect based philosophy and natural environment. The incredible caring team of educarers make it such a fun place to work and play. I consider it a huge privilege to work alongside you and your child as they continue their learning journey with us.

Hannah Teinapi | GradDipT (Primary) | Teacher | Full TIME

Kia ora! Ko Hannah Teinapi tōku ingoa.

I have a degree majoring in Te Reo Māori and Theatre Studies, as well as a Postgraduate Diploma in Primary Teaching. I taught in two different primary schools in Kirikiriroa (Hamilton) over three years before relocating to Whakatu (Nelson) in 2019, weeks before the birth of my daughter, Ahva.

Growing up, I always wanted to work in Early Childhood. The birth of my own child seemed like an opportune time to make the switch from Primary to ECE. I began working at Star at the end of 2019 – I am absolutely blessed to be part of such an amazing team of educators!

I have a passion for supporting and enabling the growth of our tamariki. I love watching them learn and explore, being a part of their development in such a crucial time of their lives.

I look forward to joining with you as we journey these years alongside your child.

Ngā mihi nui ki a koe.

Mandy Simcock | BT (ECE) | Teacher | Full TIME

Kia Ora my name is Amanda and I am very happy to have recently started teaching at Star Early Learning. I have worked in early childhood since 2010 firstly by providing home based care for two years then graduating in 2016 with a Bachelor Of Teaching (ECE).

I feel it is an honour and  privilege to teach  children at such a very important stage of their learning journey. I have a genuine passion to educate and care for children through building respectful relationships with children, their whanau and the teaching team. 

I am committed to providing a nurturing, peaceful and calm learning environment where all children can develop have a strong sense of belonging,  feel happy and content as they learn through their play at their own pace . 

I am really looking forward to getting to know all the children and their interests and urges as I work with and alongside the children and their whanau. 

I love spending time in the beautiful Nelson area with my own family and cherish the time we have together. 

LILY MCINTOSH | STUDENT Teacher | Part Time

Hi I’m Lily McIntosh. I am a third year student with Te Rito Maioha/Early Childhood New Zealand. I have a passion for working with children and am loving being on this learning journey alongside them. Children bring me so much joy, we are continuously learning from them, as they are from us and it is a privilege that I can be a part of their first few years of life. I love to spend my spare time in the outdoors, whether that’s playing Football, Touch Rugby or going for an evening run. I also enjoy dancing and love to spend time with my family and friends. I feel very lucky to have become a part of the Star team and look forward to getting to know you all!

LAURA WILLIAMS | STUDENT Teacher | Part Time

Kia ora! My names Laura Williams, I’m currently in my third year studying towards my degree in early childhood education while working part time at Star Early Learning. I began working at Star back in 2015 doing casual relief work before moving to Wellington. After completing my level 4 certificate in Early Childhood Education and working for a few years I decided it was time to move home and be with my whānau.

In my spare time I enjoy horse riding, reading, spending time with my friends and going on adventures around our beautiful country!

Since I was a child I always knew this was the career path I wanted to take, I have a passion for working alongside young children and watching them develop and learn new skills.

I’m looking forward to meeting you and beginning this journey together!

KELLY Barnett | DIPTCH (ECE) | Teacher | Maternity Leave

Hi, my name is Kelly Barnett. I was born here in sunny Nelson, and returned home in 2018 after living in Wellington for five years with my partner and son Carter.

I have moved back home to be closer to my family and truly believe since having my son, just how important it is for children to develop relationships and spend quality time with close family.

I have a diploma in Early Childhood and have been working alongside children aged 0-5 years since 2010, absolutely loving the daily challenges and joy it brings.

I believe early childhood is the most important part of a child’s life as it shapes and develops a child for their growing future. I believe that children’s independence should be encouraged while being given time, space and respect to make choices regarding their learning and development.

I am passionate about children’s learning and development, believing that it should be shared, celebrated and enjoyed, while allowing children to construct their own knowledge and understanding through learning naturally at their own pace, building on their strengths and following their individual interests.

I feel very privileged to have become a part of the amazing Star team and look forward to working alongside you and your family.

Melissa Laing | DipTch (ECE) | Owner/Manager | Full Time

Hi, I’m Melissa Laing the owner and manager of Star Early Learning. I started Star in June 2010 because I wanted a place that advocates for children and gives them ample opportunities to explore and develop at their own pace.

Read more...

I wanted to create a space that I would have wanted to play and explore in, similar to my own childhood, filled with many rich sensory experiences in the natural environment.

I believe that with the help of an amazing team, we succeeded in this and have created Star to be standout in its field. I am extremely proud to be a part of it.

I love working alongside my team, getting to know each of their passions and strengths, and utilizing these at the Centre. I love coming into work each day and couldn’t ask for a better job.

CASEY McLennan | BT (ECE) | Head Teacher | Full Time

Kia ora my name is Casey McLennan and I am an educarer here at Star Early Learning. I have two children, Stella and Roman that are the absolute loves of my life. We try to go on many adventures together in our spare time and I simply adore my role as a mother.

Read more...

I love my role at Star, which began in February 2013.  Shortly after starting I began my journey working towards a Bachelor of Early Childhood Education, in which I will graduated in 2016. This is a busy time in my life but I love every second of it!

My passion in life is for children and providing a safe, nurturing environment for them to learn and thrive. My goal is to create an environment where families feel comfortable that their most treasured possessions are being cared for by people they know and trust. I recognise this can be a hard time to think about early education for infants and toddlers but when you have a team so passionate about caring for your whānau hopefully this transition can be an easy one!

Rachael Brodie | BEd (ECE) | 2IC Teacher | Full Time

Kia ora, I’m Rachael. I have a bachelor of education and have worked in Early Childhood Education since 2006 both in Wellington and Nelson.  

Read more...

 I live in Brightwater with my husband and our three boys. We love going camping, having weekend adventures and spending time in the outdoors. 

My passion in ECE is in infants and toddlers and especially to be inspired by pikler principles. I love supporting children to be involved in respectful routine times and to delight in rituals throughout their day. After a few years being away from ECE it is wonderful to be back and to be part of such a forward thinking and passionate team. I look forward to getting to know all the families and tamariki here at Star. 

ABBY PESTELL | BTL (ECE) | Teacher | FULL TIME

Kia ora, my name is Abby Pestell.

I grew up in Nelson, when I finished high school I then moved to Melbourne to study dance for a year where I completed a certificate 4 in Dance. In my second year in Melbourne I worked as a nanny and at Mount Hotham Ski Field at a children’s snow park. After 2 years in Melbourne I moved to Christchurch to begin my studies as a teacher. 

Read more...

I have a Bachelor in Teaching and Learning (Early Childhood). I found my passion for working with infants and toddlers when I was on a placement here at Star whilst studying at Canterbury University. After completing my studies I taught in Christchurch for over a year and have now moved back to Nelson to be closer to my family.

From a very young age my Mum said I would always talk about wanting to be a teacher when I ‘grow up’ and well here I am. I love watching children grow and learn, I enjoy being part of their learning journey, supporting them where I can and scaffolding their learning, also building relationships with their family and whānau.

I look forward to getting to know you and your child and sharing special moments with them as we start our journey together.  

Sophie Marshall | DipTch (ECE) | Teacher | Part Time

Hello my name is Sophie Marshall, my teaching journey started in 2004 when I left sunny Nelson to begin my early childhood study in Christchurch. Since then I have had experience working in both a teacher and head teacher role in several different centres in Christchurch and Nelson.

Read more...

I began teaching at Star Early Learning in August 2012 and soon discovered my passion for working with children aged under 2.

In 2015 I took some time off teaching as my husband Luke and I welcomed our beautiful wee daughter Mila into our family and then again in 2018 to have our son Anderson.

What I love most about Star is the respect based philosophy and natural environment. The incredible caring team of educarers make it such a fun place to work and play. I consider it a huge privilege to work alongside you and your child as they continue their learning journey with us.

Hannah Teinapi | GradDipT (Primary) | Teacher | Full Time

Kia ora! Ko Hannah Teinapi tōku ingoa.

I have a degree majoring in Te Reo Māori and Theatre Studies, as well as a Postgraduate Diploma in Primary Teaching. I taught in two different primary schools in Kirikiriroa (Hamilton) over three years before relocating to Whakatu (Nelson) in 2019, weeks before the birth of my daughter, Ahva.

Read more...

Growing up, I always wanted to work in Early Childhood. The birth of my own child seemed like an opportune time to make the switch from Primary to ECE. I began working at Star at the end of 2019 – I am absolutely blessed to be part of such an amazing team of educators!

I have a passion for supporting and enabling the growth of our tamariki. I love watching them learn and explore, being a part of their development in such a crucial time of their lives.

I look forward to joining with you as we journey these years alongside your child.

Ngā mihi nui ki a koe.

Mandy Simcock | BT (ECE) | Teacher | Full Time

Kia Ora my name is Amanda and I am very happy to have recently started teaching at Star Early Learning. I have worked in early childhood since 2010 firstly by providing home based care for two years then graduating in 2016 with a Bachelor Of Teaching (ECE).

Read more...

I feel it is an honour and  privilege to teach  children at such a very important stage of their learning journey. I have a genuine passion  to educate and care for children through building respectful relationships with children, their whanau and the teaching team. 

I am committed to providing a nurturing, peaceful and calm learning environment where all children can develop have a strong sense of belonging,  feel happy and content as they learn through their play at their own pace . 

I am really looking forward to getting to know all the children and their interests and urges as I work with and alongside the children and their whanau. 

I love spending time in the beautiful Nelson area with my own family and cherish the time we have together.

LILY MCINTOSH | Student Teacher | Part Time

Hi I’m Lily McIntosh. I am a third year student with Te Rito Maioha/Early Childhood New Zealand. I have a passion for working with children and am loving being on this learning journey alongside them. Children bring me so much joy, we are continuously learning from them, as they are from us and it is a privilege that I can be a part of their first few years of life.

Read more...

I love to spend my spare time in the outdoors, whether that’s playing Football, Touch Rugby or going for an evening run. I also enjoy dancing and love to spend time with my family and friends.

I feel very lucky to have become a part of the Star team and look forward to getting to know you all! 

LAURA WILLIAMS | Student Teacher | Part Time

Kia ora! My names Laura Williams, I’m currently in my third year studying towards my degree in early childhood education while working part time at Star Early Learning.

Read more...

I began working at Star back in 2015 doing casual relief work before moving to Wellington. After completing my level 4 certificate in Early Childhood Education and working for a few years I decided it was time to move home and be with my whānau.

In my spare time I enjoy horse riding, reading, spending time with my friends and going on adventures around our beautiful country!

Since I was a child I always knew this was the career path I wanted to take, I have a passion for working alongside young children and watching them develop and learn new skills.

I’m looking forward to meeting you and beginning this journey together! 

Kelly Barnett | DipTch (ECE) | Teacher | Maternity Leave

Hi, my name is Kelly Barnett. I was born here in sunny Nelson, and returned home in 2018 after living in Wellington for five years with my partner and son Carter.

Read more...

I have moved back home to be closer to my family and truly believe since having my son, just how important it is for children to develop relationships and spend quality time with close family.

I have a diploma in Early Childhood and have been working alongside children aged 0-5 years since 2010, absolutely loving the daily challenges and joy it brings.

I believe early childhood is the most important part of a child’s life as it shapes and develops a child for their growing future. I believe that children’s independence should be encouraged while being given time, space and respect to make choices regarding their learning and development.

I am passionate about children’s learning and development, believing that it should be shared, celebrated and enjoyed, while allowing children to construct their own knowledge and understanding through learning naturally at their own pace, building on their strengths and following their individual interests.

I feel very privileged to have become a part of the amazing Star team and look forward to working alongside you and your family.

 

For more information, please contact us.

If you are interested, send us an inquiry and we will get back to you as soon as we can!