Our People

Juliette Thompson, Centre Manager

What inspired you to work in ECE? 

When I was growing up, I always wanted to work with children and be a preschool teacher.  I had younger siblings and I loved helping with them!  When I was old enough to babysit, I had several regular babysitting jobs which I loved.  I couldn’t wait to start training to be a preschool teacher. 

How long have you been working in this sector?

I have been working in this sector for 20 years! As soon as I graduated with a Diploma of Teaching (ECE), I started my first job working in the nursery of a busy preschool.  Two years later I moved to an assistant supervisor position at another preschool, working with a small group of toddlers.  I worked my way up to a supervisor role and a year later became the centre manager at Lollipops Blighs Road and have been here for 10 years!

What do you love most about what you do?

I love getting to know families and helping them with their childcare needs.  I love seeing children move into the preschool until they are ready to start school and knowing that they have had the best possible opportunities here.

What are three things that set your centre apart?

The team here sets us apart!  Everyone is passionate about what they do and works hard to build genuine relationships with the children and their families. 

We are helping children grow up healthy and happy – we provide nutritious meals and lots of opportunities for physical activity as well as mindfulness!

Our Nursery area is the perfect home away from home for babies to grow and learn in!

What is your favourite time of year at the centre?

I love Christmas!  The centre is transformed into a Christmas Grotto by the awesome team, there is Christmas music playing, decorations everywhere and everyone is so happy!  We have a fantastic end of year Christmas Party with our preschool families.

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

In my spare time I enjoy spending time with my family (I have four children, so life is very busy)!  We like going for walks, bike rides and working in the garden so we love sunny days!

Diploma of Teaching (ECE) – Honours, Registered Teacher, First Aid Certificate

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Hayley Gurden, Kiwi Room Team Leader

Kia Ora, my name is Hayley Gurden. I am team leader in the Kiwi Room working with 2-3.5 year old tamariki. I have worked at Lollipops Blighs road since June 2017 and have been team leader since January 2018.  Working with children is something that I have always wanted to do since I was younger, and I love working here.

I am passionate about working collaboratively with children, families/whanau, teachers and the community to create strong relationships. I believe in providing an environment that is fun and engaging for the tamariki which empowers them to be confident and competent learners. I believe in providing tamariki with learning experiences that are responsive to their individual needs and learning choices.

I am from the West Coast and moved to Christchurch to study towards my degree in 2014. I graduated at the end of 2016 with a Bachelor of Teaching and Learning (Early Childhood).

Outside of Lollipops I enjoy spending time with family and friends as well as time outdoors going for walks in the bush or up mountains. I am a competitive swimmer and train regularly for competitions and to keep fit and healthy.

Patrice McNeill, Pukeko Room Team Leader

Hi, my name is Patrice.  I am the Team Leader of the Pukeko Room, working with children aged 3.5 – 5 years. I am a registered teacher, originally from Ireland. I came to New Zealand in 2015 with my husband and two sons. I am very passionate about my role as a teacher and I feel privileged to be involved in the children’s learning journeys. I enjoy martial arts, walking, swimming and also enjoy writing short stories for children.

Bachelor of Arts with Second Class Honours in Early Childhood Studies and Practice

Shannon Loveridge, 2IC/Team Leader, Nursery

Kia Ora,

Ko Shannon toku ingoa, My name is Shannon!

I am the 2IC and team leader in the nursery, I have worked with children all ages and stages in the early childhood industry for over 11 years and have thoroughly enjoyed it. My passion for teaching and caring for children started when I entered my first centre in 2007, it was from then that I couldn’t see myself in any other career.

My whanau and I are from the North Island but have been in the South Island for over 5 years now. In my spare time I like to spend time with my wee family exploring the South Island, health and fitness and catching up with friends.