Meet the team

Krystal Lochan

Centre Manager

I am a NZ-trained and fully qualified Early Childhood teacher, having been born and raised in Auckland.

The heart of my philosophical approach to teaching is based on respect for all learners. I am driven as a teacher to treat others how I would like to be treated. I believe it is important for children to learn in an environment where teachers genuinely care about the child, strive for authentic experiences and act as a facilitator to support and encourage children to become everything they are capable of being.

Each child is unique. I recognise skills and knowledge are imperative, however it is necessary we see the whole child – including the physical, spiritual, intellectual, social and emotional aspects. I value the importance of working with parents and whānau together to establish the best outcomes for the children. 

I am grateful to be leading a very passionate and high calibre team of teachers, and each of us are united in our desire to pursue excellence in all that we do.

We are passionate about, and committed to, the Montessori philosophy and appreciate the privilege of being able to make a meaningful difference in all your children’s lives.

Our desire at Koru is to empower our children to become confident and capable individuals, who will leave our centre with a life-long love and joy for learning.

We look forward to getting to know you all and are excited about carrying on the Koru tradition of providing a quality child-centred learning environment.

“Ko te ahurei o te tamaiti arahia o tatou mahi

Let the uniqueness of the child guide our work.”

Saori Kayano

I have been working at Koru for nearly nine years now. Originally from Japan, I moved to New Zealand in 2000. Originally, I was qualified as a nurse but always wanted to work with children so completed a Bachelor of Education (Montessori Speciality) and here I am. I love working as a teacher and enjoy settling new children, making them feel at home and part of our community. Children always surprise, inspire and amaze me by just how curious and capable they are. It is also a lot of fun working with the children.

I love music, concerts and I’m a bit of a foodie, enjoying exploring different kinds of foods and eating out with my partner and friends.

Monica Ashari

Kia Ora! My name is Monica. I am from Indonesia but have lived in New Zealand for almost 20 years now. I graduated with my Bachelor of Education specialising in Montessori in 2006 and then completed my Master in Education in 2011. I have ten years plus experience teaching the Montessori method and several other years teaching in a different sector.

Montessori education has always been my passion. I have witnessed throughout my teaching how the method and environment have helped children direct their learning by being able to choose what they want to learn at their own individual pace. Since much of the learning process is self-directed, I see these children gaining a sense of independence and confidence in their abilities, which maximises their own skills in persevering through challenges and being resilient. For me, there is nothing more inspiring than to see the face of a child who discovered something new, mastered a new skill or conquered a new challenge!

A little bit of myself. I have two little children who always keep me busy. As a family, we enjoy travelling, socialising, eating, and building Lego.

Clarisse Gorrez

Kia Ora koutou!

Ko Clarisse ahau. I am from the Philippines. I have a bachelor’s degree in Education, majoring in Early Childhood Education. I also pursued further studies and training at the Association Montessori Internationale in London to specialize in the Montessori approach. I have been guiding tamariki in their early years of development for almost 20 years. I’ve honed my teaching skills and gained experience in the field of education in four different countries, namely, the Philippines, the UK,  Aotearoa and Chile.

My teaching philosophy is focused on the belief that your tamariki are unique individuals who have so much potential. If we allow them to develop and learn at their own pace and readiness and follow their lead through your, whanāu’s and my guidance, they will grow into happy, compassionate, confident, active and connected lifelong learners.

I love travelling, getting to know people and eating different kinds of food.

I look forward to getting to know all of you and being a part of the Koru Montessori whānua-- a place where we will all make beautiful memories together.

Sophie Geary

Originally from France, I moved to London to continue my studies in 1996 and flew to the other side of the world 10 years later. Having worked as an environmental scientist and as a translator for a number of years, I discovered my real passion when I started looking for a preschool for my children. Walking into Koru Montessori, I knew straight away that it was the right place for my children but also for myself!  To be meaningful and long-lasting, I believe that the learning process should be relevant and joyful, and this is exactly what the Montessori philosophy is about. I just love how the Montessori environment provides children with real, meaningful hands-on experiences to learn from so they can become confident, independent, compassionate and happy adults. I am currently studying the Montessori method of education whilst working at Koru as a teaching assistant.

I love nature and the environment, arts and crafts, music, learning languages, reading, playing games, eating and cooking, and travelling! I also love learning new skills and just wish there were more hours in a day so I could give more time to all my interests and passions, and fit in all my little projects!

Joanna Liu

Kia Ora! My name is Joanna and I come from Shanghai China. I came to NZ in early 2019 to further my study in early childhood teaching at NZTC. I’m so glad to join Koru Montessori and work with the lovely children and families! I’ve been working as a Montessori preschool teacher in bilingual childcare centres in Shanghai for 6 years. I have obtained Teacher’s Qualification of China and the Early Childhood Credential of American Montessori Society (AMS). I believe children are competent learners and explorers and what I aim to do is to follow their interests and strengths, empowering them with the abilities to observe, to explore and to learn, and protecting their natural curiosity and individuality.

I’m a lover of music, reading, drawing and traveling. I really enjoy my new life in New Zealand and feel very lucky to be so close to the spectacular nature everyday.

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