Our People

Abashia Riddles, Centre Manager

What inspired you to pursue a career in early childhood?

I am passionate about working with children and being a part of their development.  I also love the close working relationships that I build with the children, their families, and my colleagues. I’ve been working in this sector for 12 years now.

What do you love most about what you do?

The interaction with the children, families and staff. Also, the fact that you never have a dull moment in this environment. Seeing the children achieving their individual milestones is extremely rewarding.

What sets Lollipops Pukekohe apart from other centres?

We are a very close-knit centre and we enjoy strong relationships between staff, parents and children. Our centre is wonderfully diverse and we have a very low staff turnover.

What’s your favourite time of year at the centre?

I enjoy celebrating different cultural events throughout the year, and particularly enjoy summer, when we have heaps of water play and the children get to spend time outside.

Where can we find you when you are not at work?

Spending time with my family and friends. I also like to go camping and fishing.

Bachelor of Teaching (ECE), Diploma in Primary Teaching.

Shahbeeha Khaanam, Team Leader

I joined the team at Lollipops Pukekohe in 2011. I hold a Bachelor of Education in ECE and is fully registered. I am the team leader in the Infant and toddler room (Kiwi).

I am passionate about working with young children and believe that as an educator we need to provide a fun, loving and stimulating environment where they learn and grow. I find working with children of all ages very enjoyable.

I am friendly and approachable towards parents and aim to create an environment where they feel comfortable communicating with us. I feel very fortunate to be working in a centre that has such a positive and supporting environment where we as staff have just as much fun as our children.

When I am not at work I spend time with my family and friends.  

Lisa Warner, Team Leader

My name is Lisa Warner, I hold a bachelor of Education (ECE). I am a fully registered teacher. I am the team leader in the preschool room.

I enjoy working with our preschool children, they have a way of seeing the world through a magic Lense. I can’t think of a better way to spend my time supporting them as they explore the magic, while building their knowledge and understanding of the world around them. Qualifications: Bachelor of Education (Early childhood) 

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Chanelle Ormsby, Teacher - Kiwi Room

I am of Cook island and Maori descend. Born and raised here in Aotearoa. I come from a family of 7 and reside in Pukekohe. I am a second year student and have always been passionate about working with children.

Lauren Phillips, Teacher - Tui Room

My name is Lauren Phillips. I have been working at Lollipops Pukekohe for 15 years and I love working here. I love early childhood and I have a strong interest in art , creativity and empowering children to learn and express themselves through art. I have been lucky enough to travel lots and this made me a naturally curios person who loves to learn about the world around me and I love encouraging children’s natural curiosity. I enjoy learning alongside them.

Mildred Mwene, Teacher

My name is Mildred Mwene. I am a fully registered teacher and hold a Degree in Bachelor of ECE teaching. I have been teaching since 2012 and I started working at Lollipops Pukekohe in January 2023. I am working in the under two’s.

My calling in teaching is at the heart desire to love, care , support, and advocate for the children to explore, discover and learn. All children are special in their own way. It does not matter where they come from.

I believe that children should be respected and treated as individual human beings. My passion as a teacher is to support children meet their needs in areas such as emotional, physical, social and intellectual development by providing an environment that is safe, nurturing and supportive. My aspiration is to strive in providing an environment that is inclusive, interactive, friendly and welcoming to anyone.

When I am not working, I am with my loving family, at church and with friends.

Rachel Desmond, Teacher

Kia ora, my name is Rachel Desmond and I am a qualified and provisional registered teacher working in the preschool room.

I found early childhood education by accident and found my passion with working with tamariki. I enjoy being part of our tamariki’s younger years and love helping them find their interests and build their knowledge through intentional teaching and play.

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Mariah Johanna Alcala, Teacher

Kia ora, I am Mariah Johanna Alcala. I hold Bachelor of Education (Special Education). I am a qualified and provisional registered teacher. I have thorough knowledge in different areas of teaching and have 5 years of experience in teaching students of various age groups.

I believe that having an enabling and supportive environment is important for effective learning to happen. I am well-prepared to make a difference in the lives of children by providing them with a safe and nurturing environment that encourages holistic growth and development.