Meet the Staff


Joanna Bennett

(Owner / Manager )

Tena Koe, I am married to Neal, we have 3 wonderful children, Stacey, Clay & Wade.
I have a heart for children and am passionate about teaching, I believe all children are a gift from God and are like little seeds just waiting to be loved and nurtured so that they can grow and develop. I consider it a privilege to be a part of a child's learning journey and am committed to serving our Pre-School Whanau & community.
I look forward to getting to know you all.


Neal Bennett


Hi! I am married to Joanna and share our 3 great kids. I am a Joiner by trade and have also been involved in building and landscaping, my main role at the centre will be building, garden & playground design and maintenance and taking care of the farm.   



tania_moss.jpgTania Moss

Baby Bears Teacher

Tena Koutou, I feel very privileged to be able to work with the baby bears & be part of the team at Country Kids Pre-School. I am married to Richard & have 2 daughters. I believe that to teach well I need to partner with your family to learn more about your aspirations for your child. I believe in teaching children with respect & it is my desire to be able to help empower them to become competent learners. I look forward to getting to know you & am excited about this new learning journey. 

IMG_3613.JPGRobin Mischeski

Baby Bears Teacher

I have two wonderful adult children who are at that stage of life where they are learning to navigate the world of flatting, budgeting and pursuing their chosen careers. I am passionate to see children grow, develop and learn as an individual and in their own unique way. I love taking care of your precious babies and working alongside you as they grow and develop.


kelly2.jpgKelly Phillipson

Baby Bears Teacher

Kia Ora, I am married to Bryce. I grew up on my Grandma's farm near Te Aroha, with my parents and my two sisters. I discovered the joy of children while babysitting the children at church and watching my cousins grow up. I knew that I wanted to work with children so I went to Waikato University and got my Bachelor of Teaching - Early Childhood. I look forward to getting to know all the children and their families, learning lots and having fun. 


Sue Wheeler

Administration & Steady Bears Teacher

Kia Ora I am married to Steve and have three wonderful children David, Lisa and Anna; they are all married and I have been blessed with seven grandchildren to date…

I love working with children and love seeing their inquisitiveness and desire to learn about their world. Children are like little sponges soaking in everything they experience. It is a real privilege to be able to be part of your child’s journey as they make these discoveries for themselves. I look forward to getting to know you and your child.


david.JPGDavid Bollen

Steady Bears Teacher

I am excited to journey with your child/children as they develop here in Steady Bears. I am   a great believer in exposing kids to a loving and nurturing environment helping them feel safe expressing their ideas, desires and feelings freely. I love to see kids discover the excitement of adventure, whether it be through literature, play or their journey of understanding God's heart for them. 



Raechel Thompson

Steady Bears Teacher

I really value and respect relationships between families/whanau, children and teachers, and believe this is the foundation for belonging and rich learning experiences for children. I am passionate about early childhood education, respecting each child for their individuality and supporting and nurturing them as they grow and learn. 



website_photo.jpgLarissa McCullough

Big Bears Teacher

I am one of the Big Bears teachers and I studied for my Bachelors degree at BTI and have been teaching for over two years. I come from a family of six with three brothers and have been raised in Tauranga. It is a pleasure to be able to teach the wonderful children at Country Kids Preschool. 


Robyn.JPGRobyn Dixon

Big Bears Teacher

Tena koutou katoa. I am passionate in building relationships with tamariki and whanau. To make connections with our rich culture and celebrating each child's unique God given gift. I was brought up on a farm and love the opportunity to support tamariki having hands on experiences at Country Kids. 

anna_dixon.jpgAnna Dixon - On Maternity Leave

Steady Bears Teacher

Every day I arrive at preschool and my heart is warmed by the many smiles, cuddles and hellos. I feel so privileged to be able to be part of your tamariki learning journey and be able to love on them, as they feel like an extension of my own whanau. I have a passion for celebrating every milestone, especially the small ones that happen every day. It is such a joy to see the sense of pride and confidence that is built in when this happens. 



11.jpg Hannah Harward

 Steady Bears Teacher 

I have just completed my Bachelor in Early Childhood Education at Bethlehem Tertiary Institute (BTI). My heart for early year’s education and care is in building relationships with you and your child to best support them in their learning and development. I love to see children find joy in learning through exploration and the arts, particularly music, and growing into the fullness of their God-given potential. 











Debbie Lindsay

Big Bears Teacher

Kia ora, I am Primary School and Early Childhood trained and have being working as an ECE teacher for 10 years. I desire to see all children reach their full potential and grow towards what God intends them to be. My heart’s desire is for all children to be able to learn in a nurturing and caring environment where children are supported in their play, learning, growth. I look forward to being part of you and your child’s preschool journey.




Pam.jpgPam Lees

Teacher Aide

Kia ora. I have 25 years of experience working with children in a variety of settings. I have two children, David, and Sarah, and one delightful granddaughter Emme who lives in Australia. I believe on of God's greatest desires for his people is to take time to build meaningful relationships that make a difference in each other's lives! As I work alongside you and your family, I trust we can together make a difference that reflects God's purpose for your child, and family in this community. 




Elaine Cook

Teacher Aide

Hi! I am blessed to have 3 lovely daughters and son in laws and 3 step children, I have 17 grandchildren whom I’m very proud of and I enjoy being part of their lives. I have always had a heart for children and enjoy being part of the 'Country Kids' team serving the community.