Leonie Kelly


My name is Leonie Kelly, I am married and have two adult sons.  After working at the University Creche for a number of years, I came to work at Marshwood in 1998 and I took over ownership in April 2004.  I hold a Bachelor of Education; Teaching Early Childhood Education and a Montessori Diploma, and am a fully Registered Teacher.  I have lectured Early Childhood on a part-time basis, as well as being a Visiting Lecturer to Students on Teaching Practice.  I have also had the pleasure of having been on the Council of Montessori Aotearoa New Zealand.

My journey at Marshwood has been one that has given me great pleasure as well as wonderful personal challenges.  I have been fortunate enough to have made connections with a large number of families from our local community and have been able to build strong relationships with them, having up to four children from the same family go through Marshwood, as well also sometimes cousins.  These community connections are extremely important to me and I enjoy further developing these relationships with families who are from many different countries and cultures.

I am also fortunate to have had a professional working relationship with a number of wonderful teachers at Marshwood, which is evident in the length of service of many of the Marshwood teachers.

Vasu Paramalingam

Head Teacher of the Kiwi Class

Hi, my name is Vasu Paramalingam.
I am married with one adult child and came from the beautiful island of
Sri Lanka 30 years ago.  I love the peace and tranquillity of New Zealand and the amazing landforms of this beautiful country.

I hold an AMI diploma in Montessori and equivalency in Early Childhood Education and am a fully Registered Teacher. I have 25 years of teaching experience in New Zealand, having worked in many Montessori schools both in Wellington and Auckland. I have been teaching at Marshwood Montessori for over 10 years.

I enjoy interacting with children and I believe that all children are capable learners according to their own needs.  Dr Montessori believed that children have an intrinsic need for order, to move, to communicate, and to explore both indoors and outdoors.

Mio Kawai

Head Teacher of the Pukeko Class

Kia Ora. My name is Mio Kawai and I am from Japan. I moved to New Zealand after my successful first visit to this beautiful country in 1998. I live locally in the area and have a 15-year-old daughter. Having my own child hugely influenced me to develop my interest in Early childhood education. I went back to university (AUT) and completed Bachelor of Education (speciality in Montessori Early childhood teaching) in 2006. That is where my passion for Montessori education grew. I am a fully registered teacher and also recently gained a Postgraduate diploma in Specialist teaching (Early Intervention) through University of Canterbury as well as holding a Diploma in Architecture in Japan.
I have over 10 years teaching experience in New Zealand and have worked in Montessori schools in Auckland and Canterbury areas. I am passionate about art, music and language in curriculum area, and most of all, Montessori philosophy. I would also like to contribute my knowledge and skills of Early Intervention and support children with special needs and their families in the local community. I have joined in Marshwood in 2017 and am very excited to be part of Marshwood learning community.

Su-Lin Ong

Kiwi Class

Kia ora, my name is Su-Lin Ong. I was born and raised in Singapore where I worked in the hospitality and tourism industry after first studying in this area. I then had the privilege of working in a Montessori preschool for 2.5 years, during which time I also completed the Diploma in Montessori accredited by MMI (London). This then led to the further motivation of undertaking a Bachelor of Education (Montessori Early Childhood Teaching) at the Auckland University of Technology when my family moved here four years ago. I graduated in 2016, and the conviction of the Montessori philosophy has since guided my personal practice.


I believe that children are born with immense potential, and when offered a prepared environment where there are opportunities and freedom to practise doing activities, they may then reveal their capabilities, confidence, and joy being paramount to their well-being. With this growing independence, the children themselves will then increasingly delight in their own endeavours and also express a love and care for their environment and community. I am excited to be working alongside everyone in the Marshwood community and being a part of the children’s journey here.

Hiroshi Perera

Pukeko Class

Kia Ora!

My name is Hiroshi Perera. I am a Montessori Teacher from Colombo, Sri Lanka. I started my Montessori career in 2006, trained at the Good Shepherd Maria Montessori Training Centre (affiliated to the Association of Montessori Internationale, founded by Dr. Maria Montessori) in Colombo, Sri Lanka. I have studied the principles and practices of the Montessori Method for children from 3 to 6+ years of age, eventually attaining my A.M.I. Montessori diploma qualification in 2008.

I worked as a Montessori teacher at Good Shepherd Montessori House of Children in Sri Lanka, also worked at AMI centre assisting the directress of training in carrying out day to day operations.  

I migrated to New Zealand with my husband and daughter in 2014.

Since I have been here, I have also obtained more than three years of hands-on experience in dealing with Special Child Needs in Mission Heights Junior College, Auckland. Before joining with the Marshwood Montessori, I was working at Best Start Montessori Hernebay.

I am a passionate teacher who aims to develop the potential of the whole child. I have a genuine love of working with children in this age group.

I aim to help cultivate this potential in our children, bringing out the very best of their creativity and independence, helping to focus on their specific needs through individualised learning, the Montessori way.

Jerico Espuerta

Kiwi Class

Hello, kia ora, kumusta I am Jerico Espuerta. I originated from the Philippines and moved to New Zealand when I was 8 years old, and apart from English, I speak Tagalog. I am a new father with a very supportive wife.

I graduated in 2014 from AUT University with a Bachelor’s degree of 
Education specialising in Montessori Early Childhood Teaching. I have now applied for Provision Teacher Registration. I have been working at Marshwood Montessori since February 2015, after completing my final Teaching Practice there.


I strongly agree with the Montessori philosophy of helping children to become independent and to be able to solve problems by themselves starting from a young age, which is only for the best. It is one of the most wonderful feelings to see children achieve a particular task or follow an interest that they have with guidance from their teachers when appropriately needed.

Marshwood Montessori 

20 Mount Taylor Drive,

Glendowie, Auckland, 1071

PO Box 25098,

St Heliers, Auckland, 1740
(09) 521-5288


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