BELLEVUE Staff


Kia Ora, E Kaaro, Bongiorno, Hello!
My name is Irene Martin. I was born in London in an area called Hampstead Heath. My parents are Nigerian/Brazilian/Sierra Leonean immigrants. I was previously married and have 2 fabulous children who are half Italian.

I became a teacher in 2001 and have loved every day in the classroom. Children really are the best people in the world to work with.
I have lived in London my whole life. Two years ago my youngest daughter and I decided to travel the world and see what it had to offer. We have travelled to nearly all the continents – we just need to get to Antarctica. During our travels we had our beliefs confirmed that the future really does lie with the younger generations and it is our duty to arm them with the tools for success.

I bring to my teaching 20 years experience. I started as a teacher aide, I have taught ages 3-11, lead Maths & English, been an assistant and deputy principal and a head of school. I also bring yoga, meditation, world travel & cultural understanding and ultimately, a desire to create learners equipped for a life we can’t yet predict.

My trip has ended in the perfect place – New Zealand, a land filled with opportunity, nature, kindness and love. I look forward to meeting you and getting to know you all. My classroom is your child’s second home – please feel free to approach me with questions. I look forward to working together with you all.

Irene Martin
Lead Teacher, 6-9

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 6–9

I consider it a blessing to work with the 6-9 year old children in the Montessori environment alongside Irene and Karina.  I appreciate having the students for three years as this allows me to have a deeper relationship with them and I get to know a lot about each child’s interests, experiences, strengths, motivations, and needs. Supporting children socially and emotionally is an important aspect for me.  I admire Maria Montessori’s rich source of educational wisdom, especially with her main aim of assisting the development of the human spirit.

I have completed Montessori papers through AUT, Montessori NZ and The Montessori Foundation, have a Bachelor of Teaching from Waikato University, a Certificate of Art and Creativity, and an Advanced Diploma in Steiner Education.  The best education, however, has come from being in the classroom.  The children have been my teachers and they guide me often on best teaching practices.  Each child is unique with different requirements on how to meet his/her specific needs. 

JayJay Smith
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 3 years. I have taught in the senior Montessori classroom for the last 2 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

I have taught the Senior Montessori Class for eleven years. I completed my Upper Elementary (9-12) Montessori Diploma through the North American Montessori Centre. Prior to teaching at Montessori@Bellevue I taught at Otumoetai Intermediate.

One of my passions is dance; I learnt and taught tap dancing. I am also a keen musician and really enjoy teaching music at school. This might involve the children singing as a group, learning songs on the marimba or making their own music. As a Montessori teacher I have developed a love of mathematics; the materials have helped me understand mathematical concepts better and made maths fun!

The calm environment and the opportunity to work with children in a holistic way drew me to Montessori. Montessori, for me, feels like learning for life.

One of the strengths of our Montessori unit is the sense of community and this is particularly evident when the children work together or the classes combine for an important event. Our team has a diverse range of strengths and we work closely together to help the children.

Deirdre Harrison
Teacher 9-12

I have a Bachelor of Education (Honours) in Teaching Studies and am in my ninth year working at Montessori@Bellevue, currently as a relieving teacher 3 days a week covering classroom release time for all the teachers and for the remaining days, as teacher assistant in the 6-9 classes.  I love being able to work with all the children in the syndicate and spend so much time with them all through the years.

I was first introduced to Montessori when looking for a pre-school for my daughter.  We were so taken with the teaching philosophy and how the child was considered that she started Montessori preschool at 22 months old and stayed on at Montessori@Bellevue until year 7.

A few years ago I introduced sewing to the classes and the children have enjoyed being incredibly creative with their design and embroidery, learning intricate stitches and persevering for hours.

Steph Mackenzie
Relieving Teacher/Teacher Assistant 6-12

I have a passion for working with children and spent three years working in the foster system prior to joining Montessori@Bellevue. I have certificates in Difficult Behaviour Management, Crisis Intervention and Child Brain Development and have a wealth of experience working with traumatised children.

Prior to this I have worked within the dairy, forestry and construction industries and worked with animals, training dogs and working with tigers at Zion Wildlife Park.

My personal interests include bio dynamic farming, sustainable living and organics. I like everything outdoors from bugs to marine life and all things nature and have greatly enjoyed helping the children with their individual interest projects and investigations.

Rhiarne Gribbin
Practical Life Specialist 6-12

Honorary Staff

2x Turtles
Red Eared Turtles

3x Fish
Goldfish