Our People

Active Explorers Ashburton

Sonya Mackay, Centre Manager

Kia ora, my name is Sonya, and I am lucky to be the centre manager here at Active Explorers. I have a degree in Early Childhood Education and begun my teaching career here back in 2008. I have been the Nursery Head Teacher over the past 12 years until recently moving into the Centre Manager position.

Having such a lovely centre and passionate team is a real privilege and I love the relationships and care our team have with and for all our community of learners.

I look forward to sharing in every child’s journey and supporting my team in providing the best possible care and education for your family.

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Sian Wild, ECE Teacher

Kia ora my name is Sian and I am looking forward to being a part of your learning journey. I graduated from Rangi Ruru Early childhood college in 2014. I have grown up locally on a farm just out of Rakaia, where I still help out with harvest, planting and all sorts of farm work. I now live in Ashburton with my partner. In my spare time I enjoy going on walks or bike rides, catching up with friends or getting into the garden.

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Vonnie Doak, ECE Teacher

Hello there! I am Vonnie and I have been working at Active Explorers since 2007. I have a fabulous husband and in our spare time we enjoy holidaying in the caravan or hanging out with our granddaughters Hahna, Jemma and Isabella. Our grandson Damien lives in Australia, where visit at any opportunity. I have three daughters, Kate, Emma and Karen. I love my job and keep the ship afloat running around after the team making sure everything is in pristine condition. I love meeting our families and being a part of your children’s lives.

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Amie Beech, ECE Teacher

Kia ora family and friends of Active Explorers!

My name is Amie Beech I am a mother to two girls and I have a Bachelor of Teaching ECE. I have been working as a teacher here since April 2018. I believe in building strong reciprocal relationships with children that incorporate contexts of their wider lives, through this children are respected and valued for who they are, where they come from and how they can build on what they bring with them.

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Aimee Paterson, ECE Teacher

Tēnā Koutou, I am your administrator extraordinaire who, when required, I utilise my Primary Teaching Degree to work alongside your children! I have been at Active Explorers since 2011. In my spare time I love making memories with my three sons and husband, hitting the gym, getting in the garden and reading a good book.

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Jaid Van Den Berg-Kaire, ECE Teacher

Greetings everyone, my name is Jaid, I am originally from Nelson, however, I now live in Ashburton. I am studying through Te Rito Maioha where I am studying for a Bachelor of Teaching ECE. I am passionate about nature-based play, getting creative and prompting sustainability through my teaching. Another of my passions is creating strong and positive relationships with whānau and tamariki, learning everyone’s strengths and interests whilst encompassing te Ao Māori.

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Chris Leslie, ECE Teacher

Kia ora! My name is Chris Leslie and I have been at Active Explorers since 2007. I have taught in every area of the centre and now have stepped into a relieving capacity as I enjoy semi retirement. My husband and I have three delightful children who have blessed us with six grandchildren. Besides spoiling my grandkids, I enjoy socialising with our friends and love to host dinner parties or go to movie nights! I am very lucky to be a part of your child’s life, I can’t wait to get to know you all.

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Amy McKay, ECE Teacher

Kia Ora my name is Amy. I have been working at Active Explorers Ashburton since July 2019. In our wee family I I have a partner and two beautiful children. We also have a very enthusiastic young Springer Spaniel named Oscar who is just lovely with the kids. In my spare time I enjoy being outside with my children, going for walks and being active. I am so happy to be a part of this team and look forward to getting to know you all.

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Abbey Donaldson, ECE Teacher

Kia ora family and whānau, my name is Abbey and I am super excited to be part of the teaching team at Active Explorers. I have moved from Christchurch along with my dog Marlo who is a pure cocker spaniel. In my spare time I enjoy being active. I spend a lot of time at the gym, running, biking. swimming, out on the motorbikes and pottering around the outdoors. My teaching is grounded on a strong passion for the natural world. I love all things bugs, animals, the circle of life and growth. I feel that learning how to appreciate the smallest of taonga (treasures) transfers into the wider world and community. I am super excited to be teaching at such a lovely centre.

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Cindy Perry, ECE Head Teacher

My name is Cindy Perry and I began my teaching journey in 2010. I gained my Bachelor of Teaching through the New Zealand Open Polytechnic in 2015. By 2016 I was here, at Active Explorers and am now the Head Teacher of our Stepping Stones classroom!

In January 2018 I welcomed my wee boy, Lachlan who also comes to Active Explorers and loves it! Together we enjoy walks at the lake, catching up with friends and going on wee adventures!

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Tania Hill, ECE Teacher

Kia ora my name is Tania Hill and I have been working here at Active Explorers since 2012.! I have a Bachelor degree in Early Childhood and many years of teaching experience. My husband and I, are the proud parents of our wonderful daughter. All three of us are keen on motorbikes, the ladies of the family also love Netball. I hope that you and your children love it here at Active Explorers - just like I do!

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Stacy McMillan, ECE Teacher

Tena koe! I am Stacy McMillan and I am very privileged to be working alongside your precious children. I am a proud Mum to two young people, both who also attend the centre with me.. I live with my Fiancé, Andy, and we love to spend time together as a family; whether we are out and about or just at home - it doesn’t bother us! I love a good book or movie or hanging out with my friends in my spare time. I am looking forward to getting to know all of your children. I hope they love Active Explorers as much as I do!

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Nikita Jarvis, ECE Teacher

Kia ora koutou! My name is Nikita Jarvis and I have been at Active Explorers since 2015. I finished my Bachelor degree in 2016.  I have three wee cherubs, two of which also come to preschool with me every day! My fiancé and I spend our time racing after our whānau and going on adventures. I love being a teacher and working alongside the brightest minds in Ashburton here at Active Explorers.

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Renee McLennan, ECE Head Teacher

Kia Ora, my name is Renee McLennan and I have been a teacher at Active Explorers since 2012. I have been lucky enough to work within each age group here at preschool. I have a Graduate Diploma in Early Childhood Education and am also trained as a Primary School teacher. I am currently the Head Teacher in Extension Room and love working alongside the older children and supporting them in developing the skills to begin school. My husband and I are the proud parents of two little people who I am lucky enough to also work supporting. As a family we love going boating, fishing and camping.

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Iona Couper, ECE Teacher

Tena koutou, my name is Iona and I have been working here at Active Explorers since 2016. I graduated in 2001 from Rangi Ruru Early Childhood College with a Diploma of Teaching. I have three adorable wee boys, and one wonderful husband, who keep me on my toes. You can find us hanging out as a family; biking, fishing, camping and kayaking. I love working alongside your children and supporting their learning journey!

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Laurie Morrison, ECE Teacher

Kia Ora, my name is Laurie Morrison. I began my teaching journey here at Active Explorers in 2012. I have three adorable cherubs. My husband and I are certainly kept on our toes with our tribe but love that we get to see them doing all the things they love, like netball and rugby! I believe my role here in Stepping Stones is to guide, support and encourage tamariki to explore their world and develop their unique identities.

Lisa Gimblett, ECE Reliever

Hi there,

My name is Lisa and I am a regular reliever with the team here.  I spend my time in centre supporting wherever I am needed.  I really enjoy the variety of my role and spending time getting to know your children.  I have two young children and a partner and we enjoy gardening, socialising and generally relaxing in our beautiful community.

Abbie Wallington, ECE Teacher in Training

Tena koe,

I am a recent school leaver and have begun my Early Childhood qualification through the New Zealand Tertiary College.  I am really enjoying being part of the team here and being supported by such amazing teachers and families.

Kylie Schnell, ECE Teacher

Kia ora koutou, my name is Kylie Schnell, and I am a provisionally registered kaiako. I am pleased to have the opportunity to be a part of the Active Explorers whanau and look forward to getting to know you and your tamariki. When I am not at preschool, I enjoy running my dog, biking and training for different outdoor events. Something that is a strong part of my teaching philosophy is relationship and their whanau.

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Jo Fitzgerald, ECE Teacher

Kia ora, I am so excited to work with everyone here at Active Explorers. I love working with people of all ages and having the opportunity to support and grow your children alongside of you and the team here is a real honour.

I grew up here in Ashburton and have 2 wonderful children aged 7 and 5 they attend Allenton School.

In our spare time we enjoy the outdoors, gardening and baking.