Our People

School Leadership Team

Mr Tony Austin

Tumuaki - Principal

Glenys Johnston

Deputy Principal / SENCO / Hub Leader

Peter Dobson

Deputy Principal / ICT Leader 

Asha Patel

Senior Teacher / Hub Leader

Administration Team

Carolina Rhodes-Robinson

Office Administrator

Sacha Wilson

Office Assistant  /Teacher Aide

Ngake Hub

Years 0-2

Asha Patel

Hub Leader / Kaiako in Kiwi 

Kia ora koutou,

My name is Asha Patel and it is a priviledge to welcome new students and whānau to our wonderful kura. I have been teaching at Kilbirnie School for over 15 years across the school in different teaching roles and as the New Entrant Teacher since 2018.  Being a kaiako to our newest students is a very rewarding and fulfilling role. I'm passionate about providing a positive learning environment where our newest students feel safe, valued and are encouraged to reach their full potential.  

The dedicated staff, supportive parents and amazing students make Kilbirnie School an exciting and positive place to work. 

Denise Copley

Kaiako in Kiwi 

Kia ora Koutou

Education has always been my passion, and I have been working as a part-time teacher since 2021. I received my initial teacher training in Sydney and have taught students from year 1 to year 8 for 15 years in Sydney. I have a special fondness for younger students due to their boundless energy and eagerness to learn. Over the past 18 years, I have been teaching in Wellington, where I have continued to expand my expertise.

In addition to my teaching qualifications, I am also a trained SPELD teacher with a particular interest in supporting neurodiverse students. I am dedicated to creating a welcoming and inclusive environment in the classroom, where all students can thrive in a positive and nurturing environment. Working with children has allowed me to deepen my understanding of the diverse educational needs present in the New Zealand educational system. I truly value the importance of having an inclusive classroom that caters to the individual needs of every child. 

Kilbirnie School is a vibrant and uplifting environment to be a part of thanks to its committed staff, engaged parents, and wonderful students. 

Juliet McPhee

Kaiako in Tūī

Kia ora,

I am very excited to be part of the learning community in the Ngake Hub at Kilbirnie School. I absolutely love teaching juniors so I am thrilled to be teaching the Year 1 and 2 tamariki. I endeavour to create a space that fosters a sense of wonder, a place of safety and belonging and a love of learning.

I am kept busy outside school with my two teenagers and my beloved black lab Axel. The beach is our happy place as a family and we make the most of all our local beaches when Wellington puts on a stunning day.

Molly Hayes

Kaiako in Ruru

Kia ora,

My name is Molly and I teach year 1/2s in Ruru. I started teaching at Kilbirnie School in 2023 and I work collaboratively alongside Juliet. 

I absolutely love teaching juniors; their enthusiasm, curiosity and humour is what makes each day fun and interesting. I aim to create a positive class culture, pursuing the children’s interests and developing their self belief while fostering a love of learning and school. 

Outside of school, I like to keep active, spend time with my friends and will often make the weekend trip back to Palmerston North to visit my family. 

Whataitai Hub

Years 2-3

Glenys Johnston

Deputy Principal / Hub Leader / SENCO / Kaiako in Rimu 

I have been working at Kilbirnie School since Easter 2009. Later I moved to the Whataitai Hub as a Senior teacher and then was appointed as one of the Deputy Principals in 2020.

One of my major responsibilities other than teaching in the Whataitai Hub (Year 3) is being the Special Education Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO). It is so rewarding to support tamariki and whanau of the children who learn differently.

I enjoy doing art/crafts, reading and karate when not working at school. Travelling is also one of my favourite things.

Tina Davies

Kaiako in Rimu / Kaiako Release

I have been a part time member of staff at Kilbirnie School since 2017. My main role is working in Rimu alongside Glenys Johnston but I also get to work in the Whataitai and Matairangi hubs when the class teachers have release time.

I am originally from the UK - I think my accent might give me away. My family and I arrived in NZ in 2006. I’d been a teacher there for 10+ years before we left, working with many different age groups.

In my spare time I love going to the gym, reading and crafting. I am also a member of a women’s Dragon Boat team. 

Elaine Cooper

Kaiako in Kōwhai

Tena koutou katoa, my name is Elaine and am honoured to be the kaiako of Kōwhai, in the amazing new Whātaitai Building.  I absolutely love seeing the passion and enthusiasm that the ākonga bring to their learning. It's truly inspiring to watch them grow and develop their skills right before my eyes. Teaching in Kilbirnie is a dream come true for me, as I get to work with such amazing individuals every day and participate in wonderful initiatives like Garden To Table.

When not teaching I can be found spending time with my family, dogs and friends and often at the Ākau Tangi watching floorball.  

Matairangi Hub

Years 4-6

Lou de Lange

Kaiako in Manaia / Hub Leader

Kia ora,

My name is Lou de Lange and I teach in the lovely and fabulous Matairangi Hub!

I was a student teacher at Kilbirnie School during my teaching studies in 2017 and I am over the moon to now be working at this AMAZING school as a full-time teacher. I love how supportive and kind the teachers, parents and students are.

I enjoy teaching the older year levels at Kilbirnie School as they have so many exciting interests and emerging passions that they can bring into the classroom and use across many subjects. Being able to teach all sorts of subjects is definitely an exciting part of teaching at the primary school level. I have always loved exploring anything to do with the performing/creative arts, history and writing. Surprisingly (due to my tendency as a child to avoid the subject), teaching Mathematics has become a real highlight of my day as there are plenty of opportunities to make lessons hands-on, fun and creative. 

Outside of school I love baking, cake designing, swimming, dancing and gardening. I like to make the most of what Wellington has to offer. I love going to live shows, watching sports and partaking in dance lessons. This year I have graduated into improver tap dancing after taking up the dance style last year.  Perhaps if I keep at it,  I’ll be allowed a solo at one of the school productions?

Peter Dobson

Deputy Principal / Kaiako in Whai / ICT Leader

Kia Ora Koutou, 

Ko Peter tōku ingoa. 

I teach in the Matairangi Hub on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. My class combines Year 4-5 students. I am one of the Deputy Principals and I am in charge of ICT. 

I have been teaching for 20 years and I still have as much enjoyment in learning alongside all my students as I had when I started.

Katrina Te Rito

Kaiako in Whai / Kaiako Release / Sports Coordinator

Kia Ora,

My name is Katrina Te Rito (the kids call me Mrs Te Rito). I have been working part time at Kilbirnie School since 2006. Prior to that I taught full time at Owhiro Bay school and I also taught in London for several years and in Palmerston North.

I mostly work in Matairangi hub, releasing Peter Dobson on Thursdays and Fridays. I also provide classroom release for other teachers in Matairangi and Whataitai hubs.  I am also the sports coordinator for the school. I am passionate about the importance of sport for all children. I am also passionate about the ARTS.

I have fours sons, all of whom have now finished school. In my downtime I love touring the country in our motorhome, keeping fit and active, watching our two younger sons play basketball, cooking, reading and enjoying Wellington’s café and cultural scene.

Soazik Dunkin

Kaiako in Tohorā

Kia ora, bonjour,

My Breton name is pronounced "Swahzeek". I am originally from France but have been calling NZ home for over 20 years now after spending some time in Canada and Germany. 

I have a keen interest in languages, grammar and words and one of my favourite times of the day is reading our class book. My students always remind me if I forget to “do a voice”! I also enjoy running STEM activities where we learn collaboratively and creatively.

Seeing students develop their self-belief is a real joy and I strive to create an environment where it’s safe to take risks and make mistakes. 

I have two sons and outside school hours, you'll often find me encouraging them at floorball - I play myself with a very social team! -  or scoring a cricket game.

Specialist Teaching Team

Rachel France

Kaiako Release / Specialist Kaiako for Te Reo and Music

Ko Rachel France tōku ingoa. 

Ko Pākeha ahau.

He kaiako reo me he tauira o Puoro Haumanu ahau.

I am a Te Reo Māori teacher and a masters of music therapy student. I am a part-time teacher at Te kura o te Awa a Taia, Kilbirnie School. This year I am teaching two days a week. I teach Te Reo Māori, Tikanga Māori and Kapa Haka across the school on a Thursday and provide Choir for year 4 - 6 on Wednesday lunchtimes. I release Molly and Juliet one day a week. 

In my non-teaching life, I am a performer, so I share my music and theatre background with the students to bring their performance skills up to a very high standard. I am a strong advocate for Hauora and am currently working towards a Masters in Music Therapy at Te Herenga Waka, which is a wonderful journey and is providing me with more tools in my kete to support our akonga (students). 

My personal teaching philosophy is to keep learning fun, and my scaffolding for language learning is through Waiata (song) and Nga Kemu (games). I aim to provide a safe and happy learning environment where students can take risks and be confident to be themselves.

In my spare time I love spending time with my whānau and my dog, going to gigs and the theatre.

Aimee de Groot

Specialist Kaiako for Literacy Support

Kia Ora Koutou, 

Ko Aimee tōku ingoa. 

I am excited to be part of the teaching team at Kilbirnie School and support the tamariki's literacy needs by working with students individually or in small groups. 

I love summer, being at the beach, gardening and spending time with my family and friends. 

Learning support team

Barbara Ryan

Teacher Aide

I have been working at Kilbirnie School for more than 15 years.  Presently I work in the Matairangi Hub, which is years 4-6 with the Manaia, Whai and Tohorā Homerooms. I work with small groups of children and run STEPS, Rainbow Reading, Spring into Maths and The Code programmes within the classrooms.  I also work with a writing focus group for year 6 students and help with Eastern Zone Sports Activities.

My 2 eldest children attended Kilbirnie School. 

I really enjoy working with the children at Kilbirnie School because it is a fun environment and I like the variety that my job offers.  I am on duty every lunchtime, and I love doing this as I get to know all the children in the school.

Tamara Kan

Teacher Aide

Kia ora tātou.

I work alongside our teachers to support our youngest children in the New Entrants.   It's a real privilege to meet our new children as the begin their journey at Kilbirnie and to see them grow and develop as they move through their primary school years. 

I have a daughter who attended Kilbirnie School and it has been great to be part of the community as both a parent and a staff member.

I have a special interest in art and creative practise and I run a lunchtime art group for kids who like to draw and make things. 

Wendy Johnstone

Teacher Aide / Librarian

I have worked at Kilbirnie school since 2006. Currently I am a teacher-aide in Ngake Hub mornings Monday - Thursday. I am also the school's librarian and I am in the library every day throughout the lunch break and in the afternoons. I love being in the library as every class in the school comes to the library once a week and it is really interesting engaging with the students about what they are reading. I especially enjoy reading to the juniors when they come in.

My two adult sons attended Kilbirnie school many years ago and they still talk about many happy memories they have from their time here.

I thoroughly enjoy working here as the variety of work in a school means no two days are the same!

Windya Samarasinghe

Teacher Aide

Sacha Wilson

Teacher Aide / Garden to Table Programme / Office Assistant

Alana Stewart

Teacher Aide

Bec Gardiner

Garden to Table Programme

Caretakin​​​​​​​g team

Mark Gittings



Mark's sidekick