BELLEVUE Staff


I consider it a blessing to work with the 6-9 year old children in the Montessori environment alongside Deirdre and Juliet.  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

I have taught the Montessori Classrooms for eleven years. I completed my Lower (6-9) and Upper Elementary (9-12) Montessori Diplomas 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 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.

Please pop in to Room 18 and introduce yourself, I look forward to meeting you. 

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 have a Bachelor of Education (Honours) in Teaching Studies and am in my tenth 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

Honorary Staff

2x Turtles
Red Eared Turtles

3x Fish
Goldfish