Gems Lake Hayes Estate
12 Onslow Road
Lake Hayes Estate
03 428 2116
Meet the Lake Hayes Estate Team
Lana has over ten years experience in Early Childhood Education. Her real passion lies in working with infants and toddlers and she believes that the teaching and learning environment is always a reciprocal one where both children and teachers can learn something from each other every day.
She is certain that using a respectful, nurturing, primary care giver approach within a play based curriculum allows this special age group to thrive in the early childhood setting. She has a huge interest in brain development in children and practices the Pikler and Reggio approaches of respectful caregiving, encouraging natural motor development and the influence of a well developed and managed environment. By using her extensive knowledge in these areas it allows her to support children with their own unique learning needs.
Lana loves the natural, home like setting the whole team have created at Gems and endeavours to provide the children with as many recycled, up-cycled and real life resources to explore as possible while they are here.
Background in Customer Care and Event Management
Artistic Equine Administrator
One of our few true "Locals", Lou joined the Gems team in 2016, and quickly became a valued, supportive team member. Lou is Lana's right hand lady, and the smiling face you will see when you walk through the doors at Gems Lake Hayes.
Lou has an amazing eye for aesthetics and is a creative soul at heart, leave it to Lou and the place will look wonderful. Her back ground in event management has seen her naturally fall into the role of chief event coordinator for all of our functions, in between keeping the administration side of things at Lake Hayes on the straight and narrow.
In her own time, Lou is an avid and accomplished equestrian rider. Lou's love for four legged family members extends to canines, Seraph (Jack Russell) will often be tucked under Lou's desk when it is too cold to stay at home. Lou dabbles in artistic charcoal commissions, when she finds the time!
Katie is our very own very young “Grandma” in the kitchen joining the team right back at the start of Little Rockets now Gems. She previously owned and ran a busy café in Cromwell and also worked for two years at Mt Difficulty winery.
Katie is passionate about good, wholesome, home cooking with a particular love of baking. This shows clearly every day in the food she carefully prepares for the children. Katie also has a very strong love of children and this is illustrated in the relationships that she has built with many of our little people.
Katie's and Adam's newest addition to the family is Beau, who attends Gems Shotover Country while mum is at work.
Bachelor Education Primary, Graduate Diploma of Teaching ECE, Full Teacher Registration
Head Teacher, The Nest
After you have met Marianne there are no prizes for guessing that she is originally from Scotland. Marianne moved to New Zealand with her Kiwi husband three years ago under the condition that they lived in Queenstown and she believes it is one of the best decisions she has made in her life.
Her teaching career began nine years ago on graduating with Honours in Primary Teaching from the University of Glasgow. She attained a lot of valuable experience as she worked across the stages of the Primary School but she found that the lower down the school she went, the more passionate she became about the teaching and learning. So when she made the move to New Zealand she also made the move to early childhood, and has since gained a Graduate Diploma in ECE.
We are lucky to have her steadying influence in our babies room and cherish having someone who can really roll their RRRRRRRR's!
Bachelor of Teaching ECE
Teacher, The Nest
Originally from Auckland, Jenny spent two years in Whistler where she perfected her snow boarding technique. The outdoors is very important in her life and Queenstown has proved just the place to be when your other interests also include hiking and biking with a little bit of surfing and yoga thrown in.
This love of sport translates clearly to her work in the Babies Room where free play initiates free movement encouraging the young ones to learn at their own pace.
Jenny was a reliever at Gems before being employed on a permanent basis. At the same time she studied and has now graduated with her teaching degree and it has been fantastic to see her grow and develop her teaching skills over that time.
Bachelor or Education (Teaching) ECE, Provisional Registration
Teacher, The Nest
Anna grep up on a farm in Waiuku, South Auckland. Living on the coast she spent a lot of time at the beach, which was a great place for walking the dog or riding the horses.
She had always thought about working with children. But it wasn’t until after spending 5 months in Costa Rica as a volunteer in a kindergarten, when she decided to go ahead and study ECE.
After graduating, she wanted to see what NZ had to offer outside of Auckland and was drawn to the outdoor lifestyle of Queenstown. At first, she was working in Skiwiland up at Coronet Peak. Then, at the end of the winter, she started working as a reliever at Gems, while thinking about her future plans and what she wanted to do next in her life. She ended up loving it here so much that she decided to stay!
Her passion is working with infants and toddlers, so the Nest is the perfect place for her. She is particularly interested in brain development in the early years.
Diploma Vocational School for Social Pedagogy (State Certified Early Childhood Teacher - Germany)
Head Teacher, The Hive
Alissa believes that every child is a unique individual with their own unique character. She cares for them as that individual by respecting and supporting them in their potential and building on their strengths by giving them her full attention. Children learn by doing, so she considers it very important that they are surrounded by a safe, interesting, natural and open environment full of space to learn, explore and experiment.
She understands that every child looks differently at the world they live in and that there are many and varied ways in which a child can explore so they need a space in which to feel safe to take their own risks; at their own pace; with support from caring adults. At Little Rockets Alissa is certain that they can have that space.
As head teacher her warm, energetic personality sets a wonderful tone in the preschool room. Alissa excels in building lasting and meaningful relationships with both children and parents, helping them along the road at the start of their lifelong educational journey. Alissa has been with Gems since its opening in 2012, and was an integral part of the set up of the rooms.
Alissa is on maternity leave at the moment.
Bachelor of Education (Primary), Level 2 Te Ara Reo, Full Registration
Head Teacher, The Hive
Inga moved here earlier in the year 2017 from sunny Tauranga, following a few years of teaching and travelling over in the UK.
Inga finished her studies in Waikato as a Bachelor of Teaching (Primary). Later on she found out that her passion really was in the preschool environment, where she has been teaching now for more than 8 years. Gem’s philosophy of child led learning is what she truly believes in and encourages while working here with us. She loves having the natural environment as the third teacher and really values the learning that comes with connecting with nature.
Inga is very passionate about farm school, which drew her to Gems in the first place. In her spare time she enjoys the outdoors, especially hunting and horse riding.
Since graduating, she has continued her studies by completing Level 2 Te Ara Reo through Te Wananga, and is currently working towards a certificate in environmental management.
Bachelor of Arts, Graduate Diploma of Teaching (Primary), Provisional Teacher Registration
Teacher, The Hive
Christina is originally from England but her adventurous spirit has led her on travels far and wide. She first discovered her love for working with children in India, living with a local family in a small fishing village. One of the highlights of her travels there was teaching English to the children of the community through songs and nursery rhymes.
A graduate of art and design and creative writing originally, Christina is naturally drawn to think up fun and exciting activities where children can enliven their senses and run wild with their imaginations. Using texture and colour in her own artwork translates very well to the types of materials which can be used with the children. In her spare time she writes and illustrates picture books, often getting inspiration from the children themselves.
Now a fully qualified teacher, she also loves exploring and learning from our beautiful environment and encouraging children to do the same. This is at the heart of Gems philosophy making Christina a perfect fit for our Team.
Bachelor of Arts, Graduate Certificate in Education (Secondary), Graduate Diploma ECE, Full Registration
Teacher, The Hive
Kate is originally from the U.K where she worked as a secondary school teacher. While back-packing her way around New Zealand in her 20’s she met and fell in love with her Kiwi husband. Two unique boys were added to their family and they make the most of our beautiful natural surroundings with bike rides, picnics and camping. Yoga and swimming are Kate’s idea of heavenly relaxation.
The early years of being a full time Mum were so enjoyable that Kate decided to train as an Early Childhood Teacher. She has an ability to follow the children’s lead, especially when it involves making up physical activities and imaginative play. A perfect fit with Gem's philosophy.
Kate’s “Big Bag of Books” is already legendary in the Pre School Room, opening up minds to the inspiring world of stories.
Bachelor or Arts, Master of Arts
Teacher, The Hive
Rachael arrived in New Zealand in 2009 from the UK, where she enjoyed worked with the early years. Since then she always wanted to work in early childhood education setting again. So eventually after 5 years up the mountain, she started working with the Gems family and has loved it ever since!
Rachael believes in our play based, child led curriculum and Reggio/Pikler philosophies. That’s how life in ECE should be! She especially loves the toddler age group – it is fascinating to watch them learn. She loves how every child’s way to see the world is different. “We can learn as much from them as they can from us.”
Her big dream is to one day write and illustrate her own children’s book. The love of books and reading has led her to study English Literature at University to MA level. She also enjoys yoga, hiking, biking, snowboarding and travelling.
Currently she is applying to study her ECE qualifications. “I never want to stop learning new things!”
Early Years Education Studies (England)
Teacher, The Hive
Ashleigh’s childcare career began 7 years ago when she studied an apprenticeship of early years education in England. She loved it from the beginning and have been working with children ever since.
From spending time in different early years centres, she discovered that children learn so much from being in nature and having the freedom of an outdoor environment. Ashleigh enjoys seeing children develop their individual personalities and their pure wonder about life.
Another passion of hers is travel. A few years ago she decided to combine the too, and spent a year in Australia working as an au pair. Then she volunteered in a kindergarten in India, before the outdoor and adventure lifestyle lured her here to New Zealand!
She has spent her first year in new Zealand working as an nanny in Ashburton. Eventually she began to miss working in an ECE centre, so decided to move to Queenstown and join the Gems team.
On her free time she enjoys hiking and just generally spending most of her time outdoors.
Ashleigh believes that children are born natural geniuses, and that it is our responsibility as teachers to encourage their natural curiosity about the world around them.
Master in Fine Arts, Diploma in Early Childhood Education
Teacher, The Hive