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: Currently undertaking a 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.

Bilby Room 2IC, Jingjing Jiang

Highest qualification: Diploma in Early Childhood Education and Care

My name is Jingjing, and I work in the Bilby Room as the 2nd in charge. I hold a Diploma in Early Childhood Education and Care and continue to pursue further studies through short courses and workshops, to further increase my knowledge and skills.

I have been working within childcare centres since 2012, and at Armidale Montessori since early 2014. During this time, I have enjoyed working with children and educators in various roles, which has provided me with great understanding, knowledge and experience of early childhood education. 

I love to work with children in the Montessori environment. We provide a safe, engaging, nurturing and peaceful environment for children and strive to create an atmosphere of equality and mutual respect between children and educators. We support children to develop trust and confidence 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

Educator, Dylan Howey

Highest qualification: Currently undertaking a Diploma in Early Childhood Education and Care

My name is Dylan and I have been working at Armidale Montessori since 2021.

I have always enjoyed getting to know the minds, imaginations and personalities of children. Montessori allows me to do this while also giving me the opportunity to learn and grow beside, not only the children, but my fellow educators.

My favourite thing about Montessori is how it provides a safe, nurturing environment in which children take charge of their own education and learning.

It is great to be able to watch as the children become more independent and confident in themselves.

Educator, Zoe Neale

Highest qualification: Currently undertaking a Bachelors in Education (Early Childhood and Primary)

I moved to Armidale from Brisbane in February 2022. I have spent the last two years moving around and working in a variety of childcare jobs. I moved to Armidale to focus on my Bachelor of Early Childhood and Primary Education at the University of New England.

Ever since learning about the Montessori philosophy at university, I have been extremely interested and wanted to learn more about it. When I saw the educator position advertised at the Montessori Preschool, I knew it was something I would love to do.

I joined the Montessori team in February of 2022. Throughout my time here, I have been given opportunities to further my knowledge and feel I am learning a lot from the other educators. I am grateful to have been given this opportunity and enjoy every day I spend with the children.

Asst. 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.

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.