Early childhood and support staff scholarships: previous recipients

Previous scholarship recipients have created a wide variety of valuable work, and in many cases have put the work towards their postgraduate studies.

See the previous recipients' work here. Note: Due to restrictions imposed by COVID-19 the National Executive agreed to changes and/or time extensions for some of the successful proposals for 2021.  

2021 (final reports due in 2022)

Silei Hala is a support staff member at Te Papapa School. Her successful proposal was titled "Koe toe fakamalohi ange 'ar fengaue 'aki fkako moe ngaahi famili 'ulaki ta'u 'ae hiu 'ae tamasii pe taahine kihe'ako (Strengthening Learning Partnerships with Tongan Families in the first year of School)." The aim of her project is to strengthen learning partnerships with the Tongan community and, in doing so, impact positively on the literacy agreement of Tongan students during their first year of school. She will concentrate initially on family engagement at transition to school but will also continue until the children turn six years of age. 

Brittany French is a support staff member at Te Kura a Rito o Newtown. Her successful proposal was titled "Creativity at School." She will use the scholarship to pay for part of the course fees for the Postgraduate Diploma in Arts Therapy at Whitecliffe College of Art and Design. The focus of the course is to enable graduates to use their creativity to help others and will equip her with the skills to empower tamariki, especially those who struggle with managing emotions. 

Christine Toerien is a support staff member at Torbay Primary School. Her successful proposal was titled "Bringing back the Arts." She will complete a research and inquiry in action paper through the University of Canterbury, and has identified The Arts as an area that needs investigating. Her aim is to bring The Arts back more prominently into schools and highlight the benefits that children can receive from engaging in them. Christine has worked with children with a range of needs and is keen to help diverse learners succeed. 

Hermann Arp is a support staff member at Mangere College. His successful proposal was titled "Pasifika Teacher Aide Project for Secondary School (PTAPSS)." He will use the scholarship to write a handbook using as a benchmark the Pasifika Teacher Aide project for Primary and Intermediate Schools written by Rae Si'ilata. He aims to create a nuanced and innovative "Best Practice" supporting education framework for the actual educational needs of Pasifika high school students particularly post COVID-19 lockdown and in the ever-changing technological world. 

Cara Baigent is a kindergarten teacher member at Central Kids David Henry Kindergarten Tokoroa. Her successful proposal was titled "Child Centred Play Therapy - Postgraduate Certificate." The course is a specialised way of working therapeutically with tamariki based on theory and an extensively researched model. The presenters have qualifications and years of experience as play therapists and working with children experiencing trouble in their lives. She has already completed stage 1. 

Stuart Macann is a kindergarten teacher member at Taitoko Kindergarten. His successful proposal was titled "Poutuarongo Reo Māori." Research within his kindergarten whānau identified support for including more te reo and tikanga Māori in the curriculum. Discussion at an early formal level are taking place about launching the kindergarten as a bilingual/bicultural ECE service. He will use the scholarship to continue his journey in an immersion te reo Māori environment at Te Wānanga o Raukawa in a part time capacity. He aims to complete two further papers in the degree programme. The learning will equip him to continue delivering a curriculum that is culturally responsive to Māori. 

Rachel Taylor
 is a kindergarten teacher at Pioneers Nursery. Her successful proposal was titled "Successfully completing and achieving a Postgraduate Diploma in Leadership (ECE)." She has enrolled in the diploma course to further her leadership skills and to inspire current colleagues. She wants to take up a leadership role in future where she can make a difference and continue to be a learner herself. Choosing to study with Te Rito Maioha will strengthen her leadership by adding a bicultural focus which will support a sustained and shared understanding of what it is to be a culturally responsive practitioner; developing her knowledge about Māori leadership will also assist her to articulate the learning needs of tamariki. 

Louana McCormack
 is a support staff member at Opaheke School. Her successful proposal was titled "Knowledge and Empowerment." She will be continuing the Bachelor of Library and Information Studies having already completed a Certificate in library studies. The papers she will work towards include "cultural competencies in the information environment" and "Te ao Māori in the information environment." Being able to support Māori and Pasifika students by using culturally responsive practices learned from her studies will foster acceptance and will encourage and build relationships between tamariki, herself and the wider local community of Opaheke. 

Cathy Dykes is a kindergarten teacher member at Papamoa Coast Kindergarten. Her successful proposal was titled "Promoting the importance of becoming a fully qualified, bilingual teacher in Early Childhood Education." She is already in her second year of study and will complete her degree at the end of 2021. The learning she has completed so far has reinforced her understanding of the importance of learning about New Zealand's cultural identity and her aim is to learn to speak te reo Māori more fluently to make a difference in her teaching practice. She will share with support staff sector the knowledge gained promoting the importance of having a bicultural qualification. 

Michelle Warner is a support staff member at Fraser High School. Her successful proposal was titled "Management of Chemical Hazards." As a science technician a key part if her job is the preparation, handling, storage, and disposal of chemicals. While she has studied chemistry at a tertiary level her intention is to learn more about hazards, legal requirements and dealing with lapses in containment of hazardous chemicals. To achieve this she is enrolling in an Otago University paper "Management of Chemical Hazards." This will strengthen her ability to contribute to the sector by increasing her competency and accountability in her role and through achieving additional skills and training. It will also open access to a career pathway.

2020 (final reports due in 2021)

Jared Lambert, head teacher at Berhampore Kindergarten: His project "Certificate in Arts (Psychology)" will allow him to begin a master's degree in Educational and Developmental Psychology. Jared began working in an early childhood centre when he was 17 years old. At 18 he began his studies and three years later he gained a permanent position as a full time qualified teacher. During his nine years in early childhood education he has been involved in research projects resulting in articles and a book being published. 

Nelly Kendall-Carpenter, a teacher at Carterton Kindergarten: Her project is "An investigation into how waste materials can be resources for ECE centres." She will revisit the REMIDA centre in Reggio, Italy to further investigate how it is run and stocked and the involvement of the community and the municipality of Reggio. What she learns will help her propose a similar centre in the Wairarapa where all people in the community, adults and children, can see new possibilities and life in discarded materials, instilling in the future generation a reason for caring for the environment. 

Robyn Mockett, a teacher at Paparangi Kindergarten. Her project is: "How can UNESCO's Education Sustainability development goals be interpreted in an Early Childhood Education setting to support child development for social and emotional competency through curricula development." At the time of applying, Robyn was completing a Masters of Education. Her scholarship topic is the area she intends to investigate for her thesis. The scholarship  will allow her to carry out the research phase - engaging with centres and working with teaching staff to understand the sustainability goals and promote them as self-reflection skills, values and attitudes for learners. 
Read Robyn's report

Hui Zhou, a teacher at Merrilands Kindergarten: Her project is "How do early childhood teachers perceive their role in building emotion regulation skills in young children and what strategies do they use?" She gained her Bachelor of Teaching and Learning (Early Childhood) in 2019, has a Post Graduate Diploma in Education with Distinction in Early Years and is currently studying for her Master of Education. In her qualitative study, she will collect and analyse teachers' perspectives on promoting emotional regulation in young children and the teaching strategies used. 
Read Hui's report

Fiona Sorensen, a teacher aide at Fitzroy Primary School: Her project is called "Te Kete Aronui (aspire, inquire, inspire)" and reflects her desire to become a qualified primary school teacher. She will enrol for the three year online distance learning Bachelor of Teaching at Waikato University. Her aspiration to gain a formal teaching qualification was fostered by observing the primary sector as a vibrant and ever changing profession working with a diverse range of society. While studying, she will continue as a teacher aide, sharing her journey with support staff colleagues in her school and encouraging them in their profession. 
Read Fiona's report

Erica Lasham, a support staff member at Waimauku School: Her project is "Improving and providing better learning for the Blind/Visually impaired and other learners with related special needs." Erica will be extending her Feuerstein training to gain certification in the Tactile Instruments of Enrichment for the Blind/Visual impaired. The programme includes a learning intervention that uses touch and movement to enable blind/visually impaired students, and others with learning needs, to explore the world around them in a clear and orderly manner. The skills gained will assist her to mediate students' learning and help learners develop their thinking skills, gain confidence and recognise their potential.

Cheryl Baldwin, a teacher aide at Tauranga Intermediate School: Her project is "Supporting Neurodiverse Literacy Learners." Cheryl has worked as a literacy support tutor for nine years. She works with small groups to help support decoding and comprehension strategies in an environment where rich discussion is encouraged. She will extend her school's existing screening programme by exploring the benefit of screening priority learners for symptoms of visual processing discomfort (known as Iren Syndrome). She will share her new learning via staff and Community of Learning workshops and professional discussion with colleagues. 
Read Cheryl's report

Donna Le Marquand, a library manager at Blockhouse Bay Intermediate School: Her project is "Supporting Priority Learners in a Library Environment." She will focus on developing a deeper understanding of Māori and Pasifika communities to identify perceived barriers to accessing and using school libraries. She will also continue studying towards a Bachelor of Library and Information Studies through the Open Polytechnic of New Zealand. Her aim is to complete three papers; Te Ao Māori in an Information Environment, Cultural Competencies and Library and Information Service Project. This study will assist in identifying some of the existing barriers to success in the library environment with the aim of making the library an inclusive, supportive environment for all students. 
Read Donna's report

Anne Stephenson, a librarian at Hutt Valley High School: Her project is "PhD in Education (3rd year): Information Literacy in compulsory education in New Zealand: data collection and analysis." This will be the research component of her PhD. It will include the definition and explanation of what information literacy is; the possible variation in the use of information literacy, related terminology across sectors in New Zealand education, the impact of the changing landscape on education and the policy, systems and practices in place to manage the impact. 

Lucy Charlesworth, a teacher aide at Nelson College for Girls: Her project is "Using additive bilingual practices to support emergent bilinguals in secondary education." Lucy has supported ESOL students, in both mainstream and ESOL classes at Nelson College for Girls since 2014. Her project will focus on recently arrived refugee students with limited English and those with limited education in their home language. In 2018, she began a Master of Teaching English of Other Languages course part-time through Canterbury University to learn more about how these vulnerable learners can be better supported in a secondary school. The course includes practices that encourage students to use their home language in addition to English to enhance their learning.  
Read Lucy's report


Jane Mulholland is an ECE teacher at Annabel's 3 Year old Kindergarten in Darfield. Her project is to complete a “Graduate Teaching Diploma (Early Childhood Education).” Jane already holds a B.A. Honours Degree in History & History of Art from the University of London. She has also been an education support worker with the Ministry of Education. An NZEI member since 2012 her six years in early childhood education have been as an unqualified kaiako. She intends evaluating the difference gaining a teaching qualification has made to her ability to provide quality early childhood education.

Christina Rizos, a Head Teacher at Owhiro Bay Kindergarten, was the lead for a joint application from members at the Owhiro Bay Kindergarten and the Owhiro Bay School. The project is “Learning New Zealand Sign Language as Owhiro Bay One Learning Community.” On a shared site both services have children who communicate using the NZ Sign Language. The members will commit to regular classes during the year with the aim being to see the NZ Sign Language become a living language within their One Learning Community.

Fiona de L'Isle is a teacher aide at Glamorgan School. Her project is “Edward Samuels Goes on Tour”, a maths resource for staff working with ESOL students. Fiona is also an artist and her project is an illustrated maths resource to be used by teacher aides and others working with ESOL students in primary schools. She has written and illustrated other books featuring the little mouse called Edward Samuels.

Anne Stephenson is a school librarian at Hutt Valley High School. Her project is “PhD in Education, 2nd year.” The NZEI worksite representative’s topic is the role of school libraries in New Zealand education, the deployment and impact of school librarians and the discrete teaching and curriculum integration of information literacy.

Senga White is the Research and Learning Coordinator and Head of Library Services at Southland Boys’ High School. Her project is “Information Literacy Skills for Lifelong Learning – a Collaborative Approach.” It aims to widen her investigation into information literacy collaboration intersections, with a view to gathering further evidence to strengthen the case for developing a New Zealand-wide approach to teacher/librarian collaborative practice



Te Mania Gabel is a teacher at Te Kohanga Kohungahunga Hamilton. Her project is “Nga Manukura a Hineteiwaiwa –the unique gifts of Hineteiwaiwa.” Te Mania was completing a Masters in Education degree. The scholarship assisted her with a research project looking at the current processing and practices for Māori children with special needs in Māori early childhood settings.

Penelope Pokoati
is a teacher at Brian Webb Kindergarten Tawa. Her project is called "Carving the Coconut- Growing Pasifika teacher leadership in ECE services and networks. She is the Komiti Pasifika representative on the Wellington Area Council. Her project aims to explore what influences teacher participation in leadership roles and professional networks.

Kathleen (Kat) Hall
is a teacher aide at Newtown School Wellington. Her project is titled "Engaging, representing and expressing diversity - a model for oral language learning." She is enrolled in part-time study for a Masters of Arts in Applied Linguistics programme, her classroom based research project, involving the classroom teacher and English as a second language students, aims to develop a model for oral language learning.



Michelle Simms - A library manager at Te Totara primary School since 2008, Michelle has a Diploma in Library and Information Studies. Her project is titled “How reading for pleasure can benefit students AND librarians.” She intended recording and disseminating the latest international research on the academic benefits and increased empathy skills that arise for students who are reading for pleasure; and, by considering the United Kingdom situation, investigate how this might impact on the working conditions of school librarians.

Karyn Anne Humphries - 
A teacher aide at Otama primary school, Karen attended several courses on supporting learners with high functioning Autism, Down Syndrome, Dyslexia, speech and behavioral issues. Her project was to complete a Post Graduate Diploma in Specialist Teaching (Autism Spectrum Disorder) through Massey University and through advanced theoretical and research-based study of specialist teaching upskill her understanding of providing for learners with autism. She was to share the information with members of NZEI through regional network meetings and by providing a paper for the NZEI website.

Kate McAnelly - 
A teacher at Kindergarten South, Kate’s project is titled “Achieving citizenship for all: How do people in a kindergarten support the active participation of a child with a disability and their family?” This was to be her Master of Education dissertation, critically examining how a kindergarten community of learners best comes together to support the active participation of a disabled child and its family. As a relieving teacher she has experience of a wide range of inclusive practice and had extensive plans for sharing her work.

Mary Hardiman - 
A pre-school manager at ACG Sunderland Preschool, Mary’s project is titled 'We are Proud to say “I am an Early Childhood Teacher." She will carry out research at a post graduate level carrying out theoretical research and practical inquiry into the impact a qualified teaching team would have on the learning outcomes for children in ECE. She will then develop strategies for teachers to communicate the importance of teacher training and knowledge for early childhood education.


Early Childhood Education Scholarship recipients

Josephine Turia: A teacher at Ra Itu Koanga Reo, Josephine has a Diploma Teaching and learning Early Childhood Education. Her project is “promoting an intensive course “Dance with me in the Heart” primary care curriculum whole centre approach, within our Pasifika centre.” She aimed to reflect what she knew of the care curriculum learning approach and experience to develop and strengthen teaching and learning practices within the koanga and the wider community opening a better understanding of how early childhood teachers can find ways of innovation to work with parents and their communities.

Helen McConnell: An early childhood teacher at Te Aho o te Kura Pounamu – The Correspondence School, Helen has a Bachelor of Arts (Education), a Diploma in Teaching and a Post Graduate Diploma in Education and Professional Development. Her project was to complete her Masters in Education degree with the purpose of investigating culturally responsive curriculum theories which support the engagement of students and their whānau in quality early childhood education programmes.

Support Staff Scholarship recipients

Maryann Hainsworth: A teacher aide at Maungaraki school. Maryann has a Teacher Aide Certificate (Open Polytechnic of NZ) and has attained certification in Instrumental Enrichment (EI) Basic 1 Feuerstein training. Her project was titled "Application for Feuerstein training under the NZEI Support Staff Scholarship 2015," with the purpose to engage in further study at level 2 in the Feuerstein framework and eventually achieve the EI Standard Certification. Her aim was to enhance her professional skills, improve the learning experiences of the children she works with and, by sharing her knowledge with colleagues, the outcomes for other children.


Note: no scholarships were awarded for 2014-15 while the process was under review.


Support Staff Scholarship recipients

Dipika Patel: Support Staff member at Gate Pa School, Tauranga. Dipika's project, titled “Career Development – Academic Qualification Fees Payment Proposal”, was to gain the Graduate Certificate in Teaching English as an Additional Language from Massey and this was achieved in 2014. This involved four related papers. In 2015 she intends using the remaining scholarship money to take up a Professional Development Course at the Open Polytechnic and to sit the International English language Test, levels 6 and 7.

Molly Kutia: Kaiarahi I Te Reo Maori at Sutton Park School, Auckland. Molly's project was titled “Time To Take Up the Cause!” The purpose being “to extinguish a fire that constantly prevents Māori students from striving, achieving and progressing within the education system of today”. By example she wanted to show others that higher education and its benefits can be achieved through self-belief and hard work. She took leave from her permanent position at Sutton Park and for a time the scholarship money was her only income. She achieved her goal, and is employed as teacher in a bi-lingual class at Sutton Park School.

Early Childhood Education Scholarship recipient

Andre Lahood: Andre's project, titled “Professional development upgrade”, was to complete a degree he had been working on part time for several years. In this he succeeded and shared his success with NZEI colleagues encouraging them to further their studies. He has strengthened his role as a mentor with a particular interest in helping young men enter the early childhood sector.


Support Staff Scholarship recipients

Julie Storr: School Library Manager, Waitaki Girls’ High School, Oamaru. Julie's proposal was ‘Professional Development in Library Management and Digital Librarianship’ and entailed completing a Postgraduate Diploma in Information Studies through Victoria University.

Bonnie Campbell: Library Assistant, Waimea College, Nelson. Bonnie's proposal ‘Exploring new ideas, learning current best practice’ entailed attending the American Library Association Conference 2013 in Chicago.

Early Childhood Education Scholarship recipients

Tere Gilbert: Teacher Te Kōhanga Reo o Nga Kuaka, Hamilton. Tere's proposal ‘Pēhea rā e ora ai tōku Reo Māori’ entailed researching and developing an alternative model of Immersion Māori Early Childhood Education to the current Kōhanga Reo model.

Sheralee Moore: Teacher, Rotorua School for Young Parents Childcare Centre, Rotorua. Sheralee's proposal was ‘Linking the past to the future. How does the world of Te Ao Māori and modern technology make for successful Maori learners in the 21st century?’. Her research questioned how the world of Te Ao Māori and modern technology make for successful Māori learners in the 21st century.


Support Staff Scholarship recipients

Kathleen Van Der Putten: Librarian, Tokoroa Intermediate School, Tokoroa. Kathleen's project, ‘Professional Development in the School Library Sector’, included completing a Diploma in Information and Library Studies.

Mahoney Topia: Occupational Therapist, Carlson School for Cerebral Palsy, Auckland. Mahoney's project, ‘Pathway to Postgraduate Education’, entailed completing a Masters in Health Science (Occupational Therapy).

Early Childhood Education Scholarship recipient

Tanya Shorter: Head Teacher, Arataki Kindergarten, Tauranga. Tanya's project, ‘Teacher Appraisal – its relationship to motivation, collegial relationships and pedagogical change in an early childhood context in Aotearoa, New Zealand’, was a research project gathering data that enabled an in-depth exploration of teachers’ experiences and perceptions of two systems of teacher appraisal.


Early Childhood Education Scholarship recipients

Joanna Young: Teacher, Brooklands Kindergarten. The focus of Joanna’s project was to research how best to ensure whakawhanaungatanga te reo Māori is integrated into her work as an early childhood educator, and develop teaching resources to support this in the outdoor environment learning context.

Adam Buckingham: Teacher, Sandringham Kindergarten. The focus of Adam’s project was to encourage more male teachers into the profession. He gained new ideas about male participation in early childhood and shared the New Zealand experience, by attending and participating in a range of early childhood conferences nationally and internationally. Adam passed away in 2014 after a brief and rapid struggle with cancer.

Support Staff Scholarship recipients

Helen Tina: Teacher Aide, Rotorua Girls High School. The focus of Helen’s project was to learn New Zealand Sign Language to benefit both the students she works with, her colleagues, and also the parents of the students who are hearing impaired. Her focus is on the full participation of hearing impaired students and their families in the school community.

Karyn Ward: Teacher Aide, Rangiora New Life School. The focus of Karyn’s project was to complete a Master of Arts in History with the aim of increasing awareness amongst members, of the importance of ongoing learning and in the importance as educators, in understanding our cultural foundation and history.


Early Childhood Education Scholarship recipients

Gail Megaffin and Trish Walton (joint applicants): The focus of the project was to look at assessment practices in early childhood education, particularly in literacy, and develop better links between Te Whāriki and the New Zealand curriculum, to make the transition responsive curriculum theories which support the engagement of students and their whanau in quality early childhood education programmes.

Carolyn O’Connor: To create a practical resource for the early childhood sector about Education for Sustainability in a New Zealand context.

Support Staff Scholarship recipients

Sharon Kerebs: Teacher Aide, Matatoki School, Thames. The focus of Sharon’s project was to consider the extent to which teacher aides support student learning and participate in school activities.

Ian de Stigter: Science Technician, Mt Albert Grammar School, Auckland. The focus of Ian’s project was to consider gender equity issues relating to school support staff and produce a practical resource for members.


Early Childhood Education Scholarship recipients

Margaret Smith: Margaret’s project was to research and develop an understanding of the experiences of late career teachers as they approach retirement and investigate how workplaces manage and facilitate the process of transition out of full time work to ensure best outcomes for teacher colleagues and their learners.

Julene Lawton: Julene successfully completed a Diploma of Teaching (ECE) and worked towards completing a Bachelor of Teaching and Learning (ECE). Completing her Diploma allowed her to take on a leadership role in her centre.

Support Staff Scholarship recipients

Wendy Ballard: Wendy used her scholarship to create a website of online resources for New Zealand primary schools—a one-stop shop for our kids. Topics include: News Flash (child friendly sites for current events), Fast Facts, Blitz Your Homework, New Zealand, Sports, Technology, Arts and Crafts and many more.

Donna LeMarquand: Donna’s project was to work with students in developing information literacy skills that enable them to locate, evaluate and effectively use information to create new knowledge, and understanding the development of these skills to enable students to become lifelong learners.



Rosemary Searle: Rosemary’s Master's thesis was a researched report on the perceptions and use of non-contact time in early education and care centres. Key findings in her report included the importance of non-contact time in enabling professional development, and the fact that non-contact time taken individually does not provide the opportunities to collaborate that teachers need. The scholarship was crucial in providing refreshments for the focus groups who gave their time to her report.

Gillian English: The focus of Gillian’s research project was investigating the current role of teacher aides and developing guidelines for a formal training scheme that demonstrates the competence and professionalism of those staff.


Sue Donnell: Physiotherapist, Auckland. The focus of Sue’s research project was to develop a ‘sister school’ relationship between two special schools in Fiji and her own school, Carlson School in Auckland.

Ramila Sadikeen: Head Teacher, Brooklands Kindergarten, New Plymouth. The focus of Ramila's research was strengthening links with local Maori communities to enhance teaching ideas and bicultural practice within kindergartens.


Applications for the 2022 scholarships are now open. Find out more about the scholarships and how to apply.