Our staff

The majority of our permanent teaching staff at Armidale Montessori Preschool are Diploma Qualified or above. Staff include a Director and team of permanent educators, as well as a regular group of casual staff.

Lead by the Director (Dushani Gamage) and the Education Leader (Rashmi Gautam), all permanent staff are continuously adding to their skills and knowledge through further education and practical experience. Beyond this, most staff have experience in other areas, including music, languages, art, nutrition and psychology.

Why not book a school tour and come and meet our wonderful staff yourself?

Centre Director, Dushani Gamage

I moved from Newcastle to Armidale in January of 2016 with my husband and young son, after deciding to take a hiatus from my career as a Shopping Centre Manager.

I enrolled my son at Armidale Montessori Preschool a few months later, as I was attracted to the Montessori philosophy and the beautiful, open and light-filled indoor classrooms.

In late 2016 I joined the Montessori team as an administration officer and was then appointed to the position of a non-contact Director in early 2017. As my background is not in childcare, it has been a steep, but very enjoyable, learning experience.

I can truly say that this is one of the most rewarding and enjoyable positions I have held. I have the privilege of not only witnessing, but being a part of, the growth and learning journey of the delightful children in our care. With the added bonus of working with a great group of educators who are passionate and committed to educating and caring for children.

Education Leader – ECT, Rashmi Gautam

I moved to Armidale from Nepal in 2008 with my degree in Psychology. I had a baby boy in 2010. When he turned three, I decided to send him to the Armidale Montessori Preschool. At that time, I was not aware of Montessori philosophy and principles. But the calmer classroom and the school’s mission statement “help me do it myself” impressed me. After a while, I got an opportunity to work as an early childhood educator in the same preschool. I then got opportunities to learn about the Montessori approach towards child education.

One of the fundamentals of Montessori education, which I like very much, is children have natural inclination to learn and we as teachers only nurture their intrinsic desire to learn. I pursued my passion to know more about the Montessori philosophy and completed a post-graduate degree in Montessori education.

I feel ecstatic knowing that my job is to help children achieve their full potential and to help them feel happier and better about themselves.

Bambini Room Leader – ECT, Yvonne Leong

My name is Yvonne Leong, and I am originally from Sabah, Malaysia. I graduated as a qualified Early Childhood Teacher and am currently working as a room leader in the Bambini room.

I grew up in a Montessori learning environment and I always wished to work in a Montessori environment, therefore, here I am. One of the things I love about Montessori is that children are taught to be independent and not in a way that is completely autonomous from others. They are taught how to interact in community, but also to be able to contribute to that community. They are taught skills that will allow them to continue to grow into productive and contributing members of their family and society.

The other thing in Montessori is that learning is something to be discovered. I love that children are not just handed information in a book and told to learn it but are given a set of materials and exercises that require them to use their senses. I think that is what fosters the love for learning, the freedom to explore without negative consequences. I not only love working with children and families, but I believe that I have the responsibility to provide stimulating, supportive, motivating, safe and engaging learning environments to foster children’s learning.

As educators play important roles in children’s life, I strive to provide opportunities to engage with a rich environment, concrete materials and play, which will lead to constructive and meaningful experiences.

Bambini Room 2IC, Nikita Neimanas

Hi, my name is Nikita Neimanas, I come from a big family background. Being the eldest in the family I have watched and helped all my siblings grow up.

When I finished school, I started my studies in childcare. I have always loved children and have an interest and passion in their wellbeing and learning.

I have been working at Armidale Montessori for nearly 4 years. I started off has a casual and worked my way up to part time and now occupy the role of 2IC Educator within the Bambini Room.

Working at Armidale Montessori has opened my eyes to a whole lot of learning structures and skills I never knew pre-schoolers could gain and learn. It has been a great learning experience for me.

I love and enjoy working with children and families in such a welcoming environment.

Educator, Kristy Ostenfeld

I have been working at Armidale Montessori for 5 years now. I have a diploma in Early Childhood Education and Care.

I really enjoy working with children and love to see them grow in a happy and caring environment. I believe that every child is unique in their own characteristics and strengths.

I love to be able to build strong relationships with the children and support them to be their best.

I feel privileged to be a part of each child’s journey at Armidale Montessori.

Bilby Room Leader, Libby Howey

Armidale Montessori is my home away from home. I was drawn to Montessori because of its unique approach in not only caring for but also educating children.

I have always loved working with children & Montessori not only allows me to do this, but it also allows me to educate, learn & grow along with them.

My favourite part about being an educator is seeing children learn & progress at different stages & being there to guide them through this process.

I have worked at Armidale Montessori for nearly 3 years and I am grateful to be part of such a diverse, inclusive and supportive network of educators & families which makes me really enjoy doing what I do.

Bilby Room 2IC, Jingjing Jiang

My name is Jingjing and I am working in the Bilby Room as the 2nd in charge. I have been working within childcare centres for 8 years and have been working in Armidale Montessori for 7 years. During this time, I enjoyed various roles, which have provided me with great understanding, knowledge and experience.

I love to work with children in the Montessori environment. We provide a safe, engaging and nurturing environment for children. We also respect children and teach them to trust in themselves and their world. We engage their interests to increase concentration and support them as needed to promote their development.

I believe that a Montessori child can be independent, confident and good-mannered. I believe that this educational platform will give children a great foundation for the future.