Kia ora, my name is Donna, and it is a great privilege to be given the opportunity to work in the Montessori unit. I have been teaching for the last 19 years, six of these years I have spent teaching at international schools around the world.

I am passionate about children making their own choices.

I read a lovely quote that sums up my philosophy:
“Instead of the teacher reaching up into the world of knowledge and bringing it down for the children to access, the teacher lifts the child up so they can access it themselves.”

I am a qualified chef, beekeeper, Garden to Table expert, and my home gardening demonstrates my commitment to sustainable living.

I have spent nearly two terms in Junior Montessori and I can honestly say this is ‘my jam’.

Donna Eckstein
Teacher 6-9

Kia ora whānau, I’m Whaea Amy and I’ll be teaching in Room 18 from term 2 – how exciting! 

I was born in England and it took me about 24 hours on a plane to fly here, to New Zealand! I’ve lived in lots of different towns all over the country but found myself in Mount Maunganui about 1 month ago. I am loving living so close to the beach: ocean swims, beach bike rides (on my bicycle named Winnie) and sandy toes make me smile! 

I taught for two years in England (both junior and senior), after obtaining my degree and then I spent a year in Auckland as a year 4 class teacher in a Reggio inspired environment. Most recently I was in Nelson, teaching a year 1 class. I am excited to begin my Montessori journey. 

I love to travel and have spent many years visiting as many countries as I can, meeting all sorts of interesting people and soaking up different cultures. I really enjoy learning new languages so anything you can teach me will be super. 

I enjoy the outdoors (no doubt you guys do too!) and love overnight hikes in remote parts of the country, camping and keeping active.

I can’t wait to find out more about you guys and look forward to teaching you, come May. We will all be learning together and I will definitely need help from you with Te Reo, finding my way around the school and learning even more about this beautiful country. 

Amy Hewitt
Teacher 6-9

Kia ora koutou,
I look forward to the wonderful privilege of teaching and learning alongside your children in junior Montessori. Seeing children ‘buzz’ with excitement and pure wonder when they encounter and discover new learnings, or make connections with the world around them is what drives my passion as a teacher. I believe that children’s learning develops through a nurturing environment, and it is something that occurs naturally through discovery, immersion, observation, and participation. 

In my 12 years teaching experience, I have taught both here in NZ, and abroad. More recently, I have had the privilege of working within the Montessori classes here at Bellevue School. In my spare time I love to bake, read, play music, and explore the local walks in our beautiful Tauranga Moana with my family.

Juliet Maude
Teacher 6-9

Hi, my name is Claire Gribbin. I am a qualified primary teacher and musician. Originally from Ireland, I have been living in New Zealand for 4 years. I have taught in the senior Montessori classroom for the last 3 years. Prior to that I worked as a relief teacher at a number of local Tauranga primary schools and at Mauao Performing Arts Centre where I teach a range of instruments including voice, violin and piano.

I love being a teacher and it has been rewarding to be involved in the profession in New Zealand. In particular, I have found that the child-focused, practical and holistic approach that underpins the Montessori approach to teaching and learning most refreshing. From the moment I set foot in the Montessori classrooms at Bellevue, I knew it was an environment where I would not only enjoy teaching but would gain as much from the experience as the children obviously do.

My interests are listening to live music, singing, playing violin/piano, keeping fit and travel.

Claire Gribbin
Teacher 9-12

Hi everyone. I am Karina Fry and I am very excited to be a part of Bellevue School. 

I am from Tauranga and have taught here for some years now. I have experience with early childhood, and have taught primary ages from year 1, all the way through to year 6. I have spent the last few years at home with my own children (now 6 and 4). My husband is a secondary school teacher and we are very passionate about empowering young learners. 

When I am not teaching I enjoy reading and spending time with my family and my very lazy cat. I also love a good laugh and meeting new people. I am looking forward to getting to know you all. 

Karina Fry
Teacher 9-12

I’m thrilled to be part of the Bellevue School Montessori team, I truly believe in the Montessori philosophy and am in awe of the courageous, confident, happy children I am meeting each day in my new position as a Learning Assistant. A Montessori learning environment is close to my heart as I have worked with children at St Mary’s Primary school in its prepared Montessori atrium space over the last ten years. My initial Montessori assistant training started in 2012, alongside studying toward an art degree. In 2019 I completed a Teacher Aide certificate where my focus during study was on working with children with specific learning needs and ESOL.

I incorporate art and creativity into my work with the children where I can, in all mediums including drawing, painting, collage and sculpture. One of my first conversations with the senior Bellevue Montessori students was regarding the transformation of a dull fence into a site specific work of art that will compliment their learning space. I love assisting the children with their practical life activities and am enjoying learning about their vast number of learning materials and beautiful work environment, including the four fish tanks, the garden and the well stocked wood work shed.

I live in the countryside in the Welcome Bay hills with my 18 year old son Taylor and 20 year old son Ben. I enjoy spending my free time oil painting, knitting or sewing and weather permitting working outdoors on our large rural section. During the summer months and weekends I’m kept extremely busy working as a hair and makeup artist for weddings and school balls.

Desiree Osterman
Practical Life Assistant

Honorary Staff

2x Turtles
Red Eared Turtles

3x Fish