Te Kauwhata Staff

Linda and Evan Ward

Linda is the owner and manager of the Reach Forward Early Learning Centres. Right from the very start she knew she would be involved in teaching – as a young girl she would line her dolls up and proceed to show them all how to read and write. From these humble beginnings she has soared in her career.

For the first 11 years of her work life she taught primary aged school children both here, in New Zealand and overseas. And then before moving on to owning and operating her own businesses she spent a further 11 years working in a church developing their children’s enterprises. Previous experience in opening six children’s facilities led to this stage of her career. But owning and operating Childcare Centres is not all Linda loves to do. She has a passion for training teachers to be effective and gifted professionals. She has published several professional education articles. Her collection of books continues to grow as she buys more and more to assist those under her care.

Travel features high on her goals in life. She has already travelled to over 39 countries – Europe, Africa, America and Asia but she still longs to see more.

Her husband, Evan, spent his teenage years (from 10 to 20) in the middle of the Borneo jungle whilst his parents shared Jesus with the local Dyak people. Evan speaks fluent Indonesian, Dyak and English. Both Evan and Linda support many mission ventures. Having spent many years in the jungle Evan is a practical man – the centres property manager. Spending his young formative years working with people who had very little in the way of material possessions has influenced Evan’s thoughts and actions; he is constantly grateful for the life he has, here in New Zealand. His days are filled with maintenance work, building, carpentry and technology; making him a valuable member of our team.

Both love belonging to a local church. They relax by cooking up a storm and having theme dinner parties with family and friends.

Linda leads by example, works with all her might and has the vision and capacity to grow Reach Forward into a place where children, teachers and families develop and flourish.

Anette van Rooyen – Teacher

Anette’s passion for children led her and her husband to open up their home to many children from a local South African Children’s Home; offering foster care to children over weekends and school holidays. They quickly became popular foster care parents for previously abused children and were able to give these wonderful children the urgently needed love and support they required.  Anette immigrated to New Zealand in January 2009. After experiencing the Christchurch earthquakes, they didn’t hesitate to move to North. Since then, they have toured through most of New Zealand. Anette loves the outdoors and with her children now grown up, she and her husband can enjoy the freedom of being able to pack their bags on a Friday afternoon and set off for their next adventure. The growing number of grandchildren is also keeping her young and fit!

Anette works with our young children and Reach Forward Early Learning Cnetre is so blessed to have her work for us as she is enthusiastic, energetic, cheerful and full of creativity.

Janine Kirkham

Janine has been teaching in Early Childhood centres for over 10 years. As a teenager Janine wanted to be a kindergarten teacher and even did work experience in a kindergarten, but when the time came to attend university she opted for primary teaching instead. Upon graduating Janine only taught for a short time in a primary school before making the switch to early childhood … Realising that this was where she really wanted to be.

So, most of Janine’s work life has been teaching in preschools.  However, there was some time off for having her own two children and a few years when she helped her husband, Graham, run a business training adults’ in Health Education.

Janine has a passion is for educating children in centres where she can share her Christian values and teach children to love God. Janine believes that within the child’s day there should be a healthy mixture of free play and routine. She loves working alongside children so that they achieve success.

Janine’s own two children are now teenagers, one attending Otago University, and the other at Te Kauwhata College. She has worked in Te Kauwhata since 2015 and her family moved to the town from Huntly in 2017, a kind of “homecoming” for her since her family were one of the original families to settle in the Waerenga district. Janine spends her spare time involved in Equestrian sports, helping run the local adult Riding Club, and attends Huntly Baptist church where she is involved with the worship team.

Amanda Ellis

Tēnā koutou.  Ko Amanda Ellis tōku ingoa.

Amanda and her family have lived in this special little community for a few years now and they love it.  She is married to Dion and is the proud Mum of 3 quickly growing children. They own a small lifestyle block and spend much of their spare time adopting farm animals to live out their days with them.  They currently have 2 horses, 5 goats, 2 kune kune pigs, 8 chickens, 2 dogs and 4 cats. They say that their lives are very fulfilled.

Amanda originally trained as a Primary School teacher, but during her training she discovered her passion was in ECE.  So, she finished her primary teaching qualification and went straight into teaching in a centre. She completed her post grad in Early Childhood Education in 2006 and the rest is history.  She has been teaching in this sector since February 2000.

Sheree Pana

Sheree was born in the Philippines. She arrived in this beautiful country on December 2016. She is married to Manuel Pana and she is blessed with a daughter named Sam Pana. She lives in a farm house in Te Kauwhata and she loves the quietness and calmness of the farm. She enjoys spending time with her family and friends, especially during the holiday season.

From the day she arrived here in TK, she fell in love with the place and the people. She plays badminton on Thursdays at TK gym and she has a church connect group every Friday.

Sheree graduated with a Bachelor in Elementary Education at Xavier University – Ateneo de Cagayan in the Philippines.  She has always been passionate about teaching and she loves being around children. She is a NZ registered ECE teacher.

Marilyn Verheyen – Teacher

Marilyn has been teaching for over 35 years and has spent most of her time with the primary junior school aged children. She has always thought of herself as a ‘foundational teacher’ who loves to see children become capable and independent learners who have a love for literacy and numeracy. She makes learning fun with loads of activities well suited to our young learners. She decided to move to our Early Childhood Centre as our curriculum is similar to a new entrant room but has lots of freedom for children to learn at their own pace.

Marilyn grew up on a farm on the Coromandel and has fond memories of playing in the river and bush. She has three adult children and she tells us that when her children were young she spent many hours watching them play sport. Because of this, she is now a patriotic arm-chair sportswoman, closely following our national netball and rugby teams. Marilyn has a passion for music and dancing. She regularly attends church and loves working in a Christian environment.

Rachel Warwick

Rachel is a primary trained teacher and has spent much time with children of all ages and stages. She has taught in New Zealand and overseas. At one time, she was a nanny to five children and at another time she worked in an Early Childhood centre in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado USA. This allowed her to follow her passion for snowboarding. But she says her biggest training to date has been her own two children. She loves the teachers at Reach Forward Early Learning Centre and works part-time at the centre as her children are still very young. Rachel currently lives in Huntly with her husband, children and recent additions Clucky and Lucky (their chickens). As a family they enjoy getting out in the weekends to explore the local surroundings. They love the beach, bushwalks and picnics.

Bailey Fletcher

Bailey was born and raised in New Zealand. She has attended local schools and over the years she has enjoyed playing sports at local clubs. Family time, fishing, camping and exploring the outdoors were Baileys favourite childhood memories. Baileys kind, caring and fun personality makes her who she is today. Learning from different experiences through school showed her that one of her major joys was to help and care for others no matter what age. Bailey began her work life in an administration job, but she has always wanted to work in early childhood. The opportunity arose, to work and study so she grabbed it. Bailey is looking forward to being a fully qualified early childhood teacher. Bailey has a passion for helping children and developing them for their future. Bailey enjoys travelling and being with friends. Family is always a big part of her life and she is always there for them.

Kirsten Drummond – Teacher

Kirsten was born and raised in Johannesburg, South Africa, completing her Post graduate degree in early education at the University of South Africa.  After meeting a ‘kiwi’ bloke whilst working in London, England they decided to move to beautiful New Zealand in 2010 to start a new life together. What a journey it has been, lots of travelling together and exploring lots of amazing countries. Kirsten has a great passion for travelling, being lucky enough to have explored over 40 different countries. Giving her the opportunity to experience different cultures and meet people from all over the world.

She has a strong passion for working alongside children, observing and supporting them in their growth and development in their early years. She believes exploration and discovery are wonderful elements of childhood. Kirsten is a caring, trustworthy, fun loving and nurturing teacher who has enjoyed working with children for many years.

In her spare times she loves spending time with her husband and their little girls. They love being outdoors; taking in all the beauty that New Zealand has to offer as they walk through New Zealand’s native bush, enjoying the fresh air. She loves cooking, finding new recipes and preparing lovely meals for family and friends.

What our parents say