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 (Yvonne Leong), all permanent staff are continuously adding to their skills and knowledge through further education and practical experience. Beyond this, most staff have experience including music, languages and art.

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

Centre Director, Dushani Gamage

Highest qualification: Bachelor of Commerce and Law

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 in accounting and law, not 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, Yvonne Leong

Highest qualification: Graduate Diploma in Education (Early childhood with distinction)

My name is Yvonne Leong, and I am originally from Sabah, Malaysia. I graduated as a qualified Early Childhood Teacher and commenced working at Armidale Montessori Preschool in mid-2019 as a Room Leader within the Bambini Room. In 2022 I was promoted to the position of Education Leader.

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 Leader, Libby Howey

Highest qualification: Diploma in Early Childhood Education and Care

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 commenced working at Armidale Montessori as an educator at the start of 2018. Since then, I have had the opportunity to work in a number of roles, including the Bilby Room Leader position, and now, the position of Bambini Room Leader. I am grateful to be part of such a diverse, inclusive and supportive network of educators and families, which makes me really enjoy doing what I do.

Bilby Room Leader, Kristy Ostenfeld

Highest qualification: Diploma in Early Childhood Education and Care

I have been working at Armidale Montessori since late 2015. 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.

Bambini Room Educator, Kelzang Lhadon

Highest qualification: Bachelors in Education Primary & Secondary

Hi, I am Kelzang Lhadon from Bhutan. I moved to Armidale at the beginning of 2022 to support my husband, who is studying at UNE. I have a Bachelor’s in Education and have been teaching since 2002. I am proficient in teaching primary and high school.

Now I am fascinated by Montessori’s philosophy of educating children. I started working Armidale Montessori Preschool in October 2022. Joining Armidale Montessori Preschool has been the best part for me. Every day is a learning experience with support from Director, Education Leader, Room Leader and senior colleagues. Additionally, having access to frequent Professional Development opportunities broadens my knowledge and skills in supporting and guiding children.

As an educator at Armidale Montessori, I have opportunities to keep my passion for teaching alive, and I get to serve children and the community.

Bambini Room Educator, Popy Sarker

Highest qualification: Diploma in Early Childhood Education and Care

My name is Popy Sarker. My whole family recently moved to Armidale from Melbourne, Victoria. I have felt welcomed and cared for since moving to this beautiful scenic city. I started working at Armidale Montessori Preschool in January 2023, and am enjoying being a part of the wonderful Preschool community.

I hold a Certificate III and Diploma in Early Childhood Education and Care.

I first developed an understanding and strong affinity for Montessori early childhood education philosophy during the time I worked in the Pullman Montessori School in the beautiful city of Washington State in USA. Since then, I have nurtured my interest and skill through Montessori training and work in multiple Montessori services such as Montessori Academy in Turramurra (Sydney), and recently, in Wyndham Vale Montessori Centre (Melbourne). In these services I enjoyed providing children with a prepared Montessori environment in which they could grow and learn.

I believe all children are unique in their rate of growth and interests. As an educator we need to provide a focused learning environment to follow children’s interest and extend that interest and performance.

My own child was in a Montessori environment in her early life, and I have noticed how beneficial the Montessori education was for my daughter’s early growth. Therefore, I am an advocate for Maria Montessori guided early childhood education.

Bilby Room Educator, Christabelle Kinscher

Highest qualification: Diploma in Early Childhood Education and Care

My name is Christabelle Kinscher. I started my studies in childcare while I was still in high school and continued them graduating. Working with children has been a passion of mine for many years and Armidale Montessori has given me the great opportunity to put my studies from my Diploma into action within a supportive and inclusive environment.

I started working at Armidale Montessori at the start of 2022 and have been working in both rooms and with all the educators and children. This has given me the opportunity to see children at different stages of their learning. I love seeing children develop over time and gain a deeper understanding of their world and their own skills. I am glad to be part of a supportive team that can provide the space and time for children to grow and learn.

Being part of this team has given me the opportunity to develop my understanding of the Montessori approach, from the basics covered during my studies.

Thank you, Armidale Montessori, for letting me be a part of your fantastic work family.

Assistant Educator, Karen Marshall

Highest qualification: WT Bachelor of Education – Early Childhood & Primary

Hello, my name is Karen and I’ve very recently moved to Armidale so that I can complete my final and 4th year of my Bachelor of Education – Early Childhood and Primary Teaching.

I believe that every child is unique, worthy and capable. It’s a privilege to be a part of their learning journey, fostering their strengths through the relationships built with them in a supportive and joyful environment.

I am honoured to be a part of the Armidale Montessori family. and look forward to strengthening my pedagogy and practices within this incredible environment.

Casual Asst. Educator, Nikita Neimanas

Highest qualification: Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care

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 started working at Armidale Montessori in 2017. I started off as a casual educator and worked my way up to the position of 2nd in charge within the Bambini Room. After a 13-month maternity leave absence, I have returned to work at Armidale Montessori in 2022 as a casual educator.

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.

Casual Asst. Educator, Kencho Lhaden

Highest qualification: Postgraduate Diploma in Education and Bachelors of Science

Hello, I am Kencho Lhaden from the tiny Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan. I came to Armidale in January 2023 as my husband is pursuing PhD at University of New England.

I have a Postgraduate Diploma in Education and a Bachelors of Science majoring in Mathematics and Chemistry from Bhutan and a certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care from Australia.

I was a teacher in Bhutan. I taught in primary and middle secondary school.

I joined the Montessori preschool in August 2023 as an assistant educator on a temporary contract.

I am looking forward to learning more from our Director and colleagues.