Grow, Play, Learn with Elm Tree Early Learning Centre

Early Learning Centre

Our Team

Sarah, Finance and Education Manager

Originally from the Waikato, Sarah moved to Tauranga in 2009 after completing her Diploma of Early Childhood Education. She is a registered teacher.

She is a registered teacher, passionate about infants and toddlers. Sarah believes in providing children with choices, supporting them with positive guidance, and values children’s individual ways of being.

Alongside her passion for teaching, Sarah looks after Elm Tree’s finances.

Fully Registered Teacher

Donna, HR & Marketing Manager

Donna holds a Bachelor of Teaching Early Childhood Education, and a Certificate in brailling from the RNZFB. She is passionate about supporting children with special needs with their emotional wellbeing her priority. She respects children’s differences and encourages them to be the best that THEY can be.

Alongside her passion for our children, Donna looks after the wellbeing of staff and whanau, as well as promoting Elm Tree as a centre of choice.

Provisionally Registered Teacher

Michelle, Team Leader - under 2's


Shell is originally from Wellington, having moved to Tauranga in 2005. She holds a Bachelor of Teaching Early Childhood Education. Shell is passionate about extending children’s physical abilities and encouraging adventurous play to grow confidence and lifelong problem solving skills.

Fully Registered Teacher

Melinda, Early Childhood Teacher – Under 2’s

Originally from South Africa, Melinda is now a New Zealand citizen and has made this beautiful country her home.  Melinda has been working with infants and toddlers for the last 6 years and is passionate about embracing diversity and creating a sense of belonging for every child and family. 

Melinda believes in providing an authentic learning environment through positive and respectful relationships with families & tamariki, whereby children feel safe, happy, and enjoy their learning experiences. Her goal is to build foundations for children to be lifelong learners and encourage them to be active participants in their own learning.

Priyanka, Early Childhood Teacher - Under 2's


Priyanka holds a Bachelor of Teaching Early Childhood Education. She was born in India and moved to New Zealand after finishing high school. She is fluent in English, Hindi, and Punjabi. Priyanka has a strong passion for working with children under two years of age. She believes in respectful and culturally responsive practices which encourage children’s individuality, exploration, and wonderment.

Provisionally Registered Teacher

Anita, Early Childhood Teacher – Under 2’s


Anita has just relocated to Tauranga after teaching at her last centre in Rotorua for 13 years. She holds a Diploma in Early Childhood Education and is passionate about providing quality preschool education and care for children under two years of age. Anita enjoys encouraging infants and toddlers to become confident, competent learners, preparing them for a life of joyful learning.

Fully Registered Teacher

Shona, Team Leader - Over 2's


Shona and her family have recently moved to Tauranga from Sydney where she was teaching for over 10 years. She loves watching how children grow and develop, and seeing their sense of achievement and pride as they hit new milestones leading up to when they head off to school.

Fully Registered Teacher

Darren, Early Childhood Teacher - Over 2’s


Darren holds a Bachelor of Teaching Early Childhood Education. Originally from Wellington Darren worked as a scientist until chemical poisoning forced a change of career and a move to Tauranga.
Darren is passionate about supporting children’s natural curiosity, and of course, encouraging their love of science.

Fully Registered Teacher

Sandra, Early Childhood Teacher - Over 2’s


Sandy was raised in the Bay of Plenty and has worked as an Early Childhood Teacher for over 20 years. Sandy is passionate about children’s learning and believes every child should learn through free play, developing their life-long dispositions through creativity and expression.

Fully Registered Teacher

Emma, Early Childhood Teacher – Over 2’s


Emma studied towards a Social Sciences degree majoring in Psychology before moving to Tauranga and nannying for 12 years. She joined Elm Tree in 2018 and hopes to take up future studies in Early Childhood Education.
Emma is passionate about the individual needs of young children, with respectful practice her number one priority.

Natasha, Early Childhood Teacher – Over 2’s


Tash been teaching for five years and holds a Bachelor of Teaching Early Childhood Education. She is currently completing a Postgraduate Diploma in Specialist Teaching. With a special place in her heart she upholds our commitment to Te Tiriti o Waitangi, working collaboratively with whanau and our team to support successful outcomes for every whanau and child. Tash is passionate about inclusion and celebrating diversity.

Provisionally Registered Teacher

Liangxu (Andrea), Early Childhood Teacher – Over 2’s


Andrea was born and grew up in China. After living in Los Angeles for a year Andrea, her husband, and son moved to New Zealand where she completed a Graduate Diploma in Early Childhood Education. Andrea is a strong believer in the Reggio philosophy which encourages children to be confident and competent learners through free play with quality care and support from teachers. She is also passionate about sharing with children her passions of playing the keyboard, and modern and Chinese classical dance.

Provisionally Registered Teacher

Caitlin, Early Childhood Teacher – Over 2’s


Caitlin studied Psychology and Education at Auckland University and is soon to start her Masters of Developmental and Behavioural Psychology. She is passionate about children’s individual rights, encouraging exercise and movement, and reading. She has worked with all ages but loves her toddlers as it is such a wonderful time of development and growth.

Priti, Early Childhood Teacher


Priti is originally from India and moved to New Zealand in 2003 where she completed her Bachelor of Teaching Early Childhood Education in 2018.

Priti is passionate about developing respectful and culturally responsive practice and she believes all children deserve to be treated with respect and be given equal opportunities.

Sarah-Jane, Centre Cook


Sarah-Jane was born and raised in Tauranga and has five gorgeous children. 

She takes pride in delivering delicious and nutritious food for the children of Elm Tree and is passionate about healthy eating and happy children.