Our Preschool Staff

We have a number of full-time and part-time staff at the Preschool which ensures we are able to offer the best teacher to child ratios for your child.

Our staff are registered teachers who have many years experience, and a love of, working with children.


Irene Callen, Head Teacher
Bachelor of Education (Applied) with Distinction
Diploma of Teaching (ECE)
Teacher Registration
Certificate of Early Childhood Education
Certificate of Management in ECE
Certificate of Adult Teaching

Irene’s teaching career started with her own children at Playcentre and has spanned over 40 years working in many different fields of early childhood education including the tertiary level. She resonates with various early childhood pedagogies that include a spiritual dimension. Other key points are emergent curriculum, inclusion of teacher passions, the value of projects, a love of nature, and science as a wonderful medium for teaching children how to think and learn.

The preschool team has developed a culture of practical philosophy with many daily practices emerging. We prepare the students for their entry into the Ficino School and have a strong Transition to School Programme.

Interests: Philosophy, meditation, theatre, music, travel, movies, crafts, cooking, reading, gardening and walking.


Huiping (Crystal) Li – Preschool Teacher
Bachelor of Economics
Graduate Diploma of Teaching (ECE)
Master of Business Administration

Crystal changed her career path from business to early childhood education not long after she migrated to New Zealand and had her twin boys twenty years ago. She firmly believes the first years set the foundation of one’s entire life and would like to be part of the journey of many young children. She brings with her over twelve years of experience as a fully registered teacher in various early childhood settings in Aotearoa.

Crystal holds “children learn through play” dearly in her heart. She sees her role as kaiako as encouraging and supporting children to grow holistically and fulfil their potential. She also believes in “an environment as the third teacher” and endeavours to provide a wide range of enriching experiences and a well-resourced environment in her pedagogy.

Interests: In her spare time, Crystal enjoys jogging, reading, singing, and travelling.


Dimuthu Jayawardena – Preschool Teacher
Bachelor of Teaching (Early Childhood Education)
Montessori Diploma
Primary Education Diploma
Advanced certificate in Preschool Education
Trained Art Teacher
Certified Scout TrainerAccounting & Marketing (Partly Qualified)

Dimuthu has been an early childhood teacher since 1999. Initially, she had a career in Accounting and Marketing. Her first child became an inspiration to begin early childhood education and gained first early childhood qualification from the Open University of Sri Lanka and carried on to Montessori, art teacher training, and primary education. Then Dimuthu worked in British Schools (International) which follows the national curriculum of England and Wales. She gained valuable experiences in the British schools working as the senior classroom teacher whilst also being involved with extra-curricular activities. In addition, Dimuthu worked as an art teacher in a prestigious art school where I gained art education and experience.

The turmoil of civil war in Sri Lanka resulted Dimuthu and her family relocating to New Zealand. She studied early childhood education in New Zealand too. Afterwards worked full-time, where she was trained in the play based, Reggio philosophy and learned a ‘project-based learning’ style and led a Montessori centre.

Interests: reading, art, cooking, sewing, music, scouting