Our Team


Vanessa Russell : Centre supervisor
Kia Ora, my name is Vanessa and I am the head teacher in the preschool room. I have been teaching for over 20 years since I gained my Diploma of Teaching ECE in 1998 from Auckland College of Education. During my time working I have completed (part time) my Bachelor of Education (from Auckland College of Education) and Graduate Diploma in Education Management (from UNITEC). I have also had the opportunity to be an Education Support Worker for children with special needs, supported students while on practicum and visited and supported students out in other centres while on practicum. I am fully registered and hold a current first aid certificate.

I believe that all children are individuals and have the right to good quality early childhood education. Children are natural learners and explorers and providing an environment which is explorative, informative and stimulating, children are able to learn and develop alongside their peers and teachers.

I am committed to empowering and supporting children and their families so together we can help children become well rounded, confident and competent learners.


Jacquie Alsop:

Head Teacher – Babies Room

Hi, my name is Jacquie and I have over 20 years experience in teaching ECE. I have a Teaching Diploma and am fully registered. Through out my teaching career, I have attended many professional development courses covering all aspects of Early Childhood. I see professional development as an important way of keeping current with my teaching.

I believe that it is important to respect children and to see them as individuals. This gives children the confidence and courage to try different things, making them confident and capable learners. Learning is a never ending journey and I look forward to helping your child along the pathway.


Ashley Corke:

Unqualified Teacher

Hello, my name is Ashley. I am an unqualified teacher here at Secret Garden ELC. I love being around children and I am extremely passionate in working with my colleagues and the children to help them develop and grow into individuals. I spend time both in the babies and preschool room interacting with children with a variety of activities that stimulate and excite them.


Kent : Teacher

Kia ora my name is Kent Hallman and I  graduated from AUT in December 2014 with a Bachelor of Education (Steiner specialty). I have been fortunate enough to be a stay at home Dad with my daughter Scout and my son Nathaniel for the last nine years. It was this experience which motivated and excited me about the possibilities of working in the field of early childhood education. I firmly believe that the child should be at the heart of their own learning journey and as adults it is a privilege to observe and walk alongside them on this journey.
Each child is one of lives treasures and mysteries, and as relationships are fostered it falls on us as teachers to find the key to unlocking these little mysteries and setting them free to realise their true potential.
My first foray into teaching was as an ESOL teacher in an adult education centre in London where i encountered a vast aray of cultures and experiences which i now look back on fondly as setting me off in search of the wonderful opportunities working in education offers.


IMG_3023Danika: Teacher

Kia ora, my name is Danika and I have a Bachelors Degree in Early Childhood Education (Montessori Speciality).  I taught Montessori for two years before staring my journey into mainstream at the start of 2017.

I believe that each child has their own journey and as educators it is important to help facilitate their journeys by providing positive learning experiences that cover all aspects of Te Whaariki.


IMG_2849 (2)Lesley : Teacher






IMG_2848Moyra: Teacher






Cheryl Williams: Centre Cook

Kia ora, my name is Cheryl. I am the cook at Secret Garden ELC. I am enjoying creating healthy, nutritious meals for all our children. I love finding ways to present food to children that is fun and exciting and entices them to try new foods. I enjoy the challenge of meeting each child’s particular dietary needs, so please feel free to speak to me if your child has any food allergies or special requirements.