Star Team

MELISSA LAING  | DIPTCH (ECE)

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

HAYLEY BALL | BT (ECE)

HAYLEY BALL | BT (ECE)

HEAD TEACHER | FULL TIME

Kia ora, my name is Hayley, and I am the Head Teacher at Star Early Learning.

I have been working at Star since the start of 2021 and feel very privileged to be part of the Star whānau!

I have been working in early childhood since 2013 and have predominately worked with over 2-year old children. I believe early childhood provides many opportunities for children to grow confidence, resilience, and support children in becoming lifelong learners. I look forward to supporting you and your child in their learning journey with us.

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

CAITLIN RIORDAN | BT (ECE)

CAITLIN RIORDAN | BT (ECE)

ROOM LEADER | FULL TIME – WHETU ITI

Kia ora, my name is Caitlin and I the Room Leader at Whetu Iti.

I have been working in early childhood education since 2010 in both New Zealand and Australia with my passion working with infants and toddlers. I graduated at the end of 2014 with a Bachelor of Education (ECE).

My husband Sean and I have two beautiful children who have helped shape me into the teacher I am today. Charlie is our sassy 5 year old girl and Kobi is our loud 3 year old boy.

I value respectful practice, allowing children the time and space to explore their environment and interests at their own pace. I love establishing trusting relationships with the child and their whānau and working collaboratively to ensure the best care is provided for them.

CHRIS HUNTER | BT (ECE)

CHRIS HUNTER | BT (ECE)

TEACHER | FULL TIME – WHETU ITI

Kia ora my name is Chris Hunter.

My husband Simon and I are part of a large blended family with seven children between us.

I am originally from Nelson and come from a teaching background having worked as a Primary School Teacher in the past. My interest in early childhood development and learning saw me returning to study in 2017 to complete my Post Graduate Diploma in Early Childhood Education. While I was a student on placement during this year I was lucky enough to be sent to Star Early Learning.

I am very excited to have the opportunity to join the team at Star and look forward to meeting you all.

ESTHELA VIANA | STUDENT TEACHER

ESTHELA VIANA | STUDENT TEACHER

FULL TIME – WHETU ITI

KELLY BARNETT | DIPTCH (ECE)

KELLY BARNETT | DIPTCH (ECE)

TEACHER | PART TIME

Hi, my name is Kelly Barnett. I was born here in Nelson, have moved away to study, lived in Wellington for five years then moved back to sunny Nelson as it’s just so irresistible!

I live with my Husband BJ and together we have two children, Carter and Florence.

We love loving in Nelson and have moved back home to be closer to our families. I truly believe since having my children, just how important it is for them 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 being a part of the amazing Star team and look forward to working alongside you and your family.

LAURA WILLIAMS | BT (ECE)

LAURA WILLIAMS | BT (ECE)

TEACHER | FULL TIME

Kia ora! My names Laura Williams, I’ve recently completed 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!

TENNILLE LAMOND | STUDENT TEACHER

TENNILLE LAMOND | STUDENT TEACHER

STUDENT TEACHER | FULL TIME – WHETU ITI

My name is Tennille.

I was born and raised in Invercargill before moving to Nelson with my family in my early teens. I currently reside in Richmond with my partner, two school-aged daughters, two cats and a dog. I have two older children that live and study in Christchurch.

I was raised in a large Māori family and whakapapa back to Ngai Tahu and Kati Mamoe. In my spare time I like to cook/bake and hang out with my many nieces. I am currently finishing my  2nd year of my Teaching degree. I also studied Business Management before deciding to pursue my passion in working with young children.

I look forward to spending time with you and getting to know you and your child along the way as we all share in this wonderful journey together.

ALI STROUD | BT (ECE)

ALI STROUD | BT (ECE)

TEACHER | FULL TIME | WHETU NUI

Kia ora my name is Ali Stroud, and I am excited to be joining the team at Star. 

I have recently completed my Bachelor of Teaching in early childhood education here in Nelson, which is where I grew up. For the past 3 years during my study, I have loved working alongside children ages 3-5. I am passionate about supporting and empowering children as they learn and grow, and I am looking forward to meeting you all and working alongside you and your whānau.

BRIANA MILLA

BRIANA MILLA

STUDENT TEACHER | PART TIME – WHETU NUI

Kia ora,

My name is Briana, I was born in Whanganui but moved to Nelson with my mum, dad and 3 sisters when I was 5. My partner Chad and I have a 2-year-old daughter Navy who attends Whetu Iti. I am in my first year of study, doing my Bachelor of Early Childhood Education. I will be doing 2 days at Whetu Nui each week to gain experience in my teaching career.

I have always wanted to be an early childhood teacher since I can ever remember and is a passion of mine that’s only grown more since having my own daughter.

Growing up with the nurturing, loving and encouraging nature of my parents I learnt how to safely take risks and lead my own play while confident in knowing they were there if needed. Starting my teaching career this is something I really value and appreciate. This is something I see happening at Star.

I am really looking forward to getting to know you and your child more,

Ngā mihi, Briana.

HANNAH TEINAPI | GRADDIPT (PRIMARY)

HANNAH TEINAPI | GRADDIPT (PRIMARY)

TEACHER | FULL TIME – WHETU NUI

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.

SARAH BLAKE | BT (ECE)

SARAH BLAKE | BT (ECE)

TEACHER | PART TIME – WHETU NUI

Kia ora Star Early Learning whānau!

My name is Sarah Blake and I joined the Star team in 2022.

I live in Redwood Valley with my partner Daniel and our 4 children.

I have been an early childhood teacher for 13 years and completed my qualification 9 years ago.

I have a passion for meaningful, respectful and authentic teaching that respects whānau and home culture at the centre of the child. I cannot wait to get to know you and your children during their learning journey at Star.

STACEY HUNTER-WRIGHT

STACEY HUNTER-WRIGHT

TEACHER | PART TIME – BOTH WHETU ITI AND WHETU NUI

ABBY FENEMOR | BTL (ECE)

ABBY FENEMOR | BTL (ECE)

TEACHER | MATERNITY LEAVE

Kia ora, my name is Abby Fenemor. 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)

SOPHIE MARSHALL | DIPTCH (ECE)

TEACHER | MATERNITY LEAVE

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.

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.

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!