TREETOPS STAFF

At Treetops we are proud of our Teachers and Non Teaching Staff. We believe that the quality of our staff is one of the most important factors in Treetops’ students’ excellent education.

As part of our ongoing commitment to an outstanding education at Treetops, all our staff are provided professional development opportunities throughout the year, along with a system in place to ensure regular communication throughout the different school areas and a small, but strong, support system in the Administration.

From the first person you’ll meet when you walk through the Administration doors, to the last teacher you see packing up in the evening, Treetops staff members are working at Treetops because they have a strong belief in the Montessori and International Baccalaureate education philosophies, and love witnessing an excellent education of the whole child.

Peter MacLean

Principal

With broad leadership experience, as a Regional Manager Refugee Services – Nauru, and previously School Education Director – Education NSW and a school Principal – Victoria, Peter is a renowned community and education leader.

Peter’s specific skills are in building leadership teams to achieve a supportive environment and improve programs and outcomes. His experience within education has seen him connect with people from a vast spectrum of diverse backgrounds, and given him the opportunity to support some of the most disadvantaged of our society.

With experience in Government negotiation, professional development and organisational policy, Peter has brought a strong and clear leadership to Treetops.

Peter is a keen cyclist and sports enthusiast. His wife and two of his three children have recently joined him in WA following his appointment.

Jayne Simpson

Deputy Principal, Director of Enrichment Programs

Jayne, who has been teaching at Treetops for 14 years, is currently in the position of Deputy Principal and Director of Enrichment Programs. Jayne has two children, both of whom attended Treetops. She and her family, together with a dog, cats and chickens, live on an acre in Darlington close to the school.  Jayne’s interests have included endurance cycling, mountaineering and rock climbing, ski-ing and organic gardening.

Jayne was educated in England, and came first to Australia to compete in a 5,200km mountain bike race across the centre of Australia with her husband, on a mountain bike tandem!  This turned out to be a life-changing experience in many different ways and she and her husband emigrated to Western Australia shortly afterwards.

Formerly a Primary Class teacher, Jayne’s interest for working with students with specific learning difficulties was ignited in Scotland when she worked with a dyslexic and very talented student in her class who, one year off the end of Primary, was still struggling to read.  He went on to a career in professional acting and she went on to complete training and specialist qualifications and set up Learning Support Departments which became integral to the learning experiences offered to students in three K-12 schools.

Jayne began her teaching career at Treetops when asked to first assist with a student with special needs who she continued to support throughout this student’s 13 years at the school.  The recent donation of the furnishings for a resources room for enrichment classes by this student’s family mark both their satisfaction with the assistance received and the growth of enrichment throughout the school.

While enrichment education remains her passion, Jayne has utilised her lengthy and broad experience in educational settings to assist in the administration and management of Treetops.  She enjoys problem solving, systemising, and supporting her colleagues and the broader Treetops community.

Giselle Thornton

Montessori Playgroup Leader

Giselle has been at Treetops for over 11 years and has worked in almost every part of the school! However, she is best known for her beautiful nature and warm way of welcoming new families to the school through her role as Playgroup Leader.

With experience in every Montessori cycle, Giselle brings extensive understanding from her Education Support role and previous years in child care and public school education.  With a passion to ensuring a child’s learning journey begins from a happy and confident experience, Giselle most loves watching a child grow more confident from accomplishing a task independently. She appreciates the Montessori method of learning through perceived play and especially enjoys working in our Playgroup because of te environment that allows children to reach their own potential.

Giselle has two children and, along with her husband, has cared for over thirty children as a foster carer over the last 15 years.

Geraldine Woodley

Children’s House Directress

Geraldine’s first introduction to Montessori was at the Hornsby-Ku-Ring-Gai Montessori School in Sydney where she worked as Assistant Directress under the guidance of one of the most qualified and experienced Directresses in Australia. After earning her Montessori diploma in 1985 and gaining eight year’s experience in a very reputable Montessori school in Sydney, she decided to move back to Perth to be with her family.

She is the mother of a teenage son and comes from a large musical family of six brothers and three sisters. She places a great emphasis on family and loves spending time with them as they help keep her grounded.

She commenced employment at Treetops in 1989 and was one of the pioneer staff members.

In 2002, she was nominated for the National Excellence in Teaching Awards. Geraldine’s unshakeable belief is that the principles that underlie the Montessori method offer the very best foundation for the future development of today’s child. She also believes that each child enters her classroom for a reason; they have lessons to teach!

She is passionate about teaching, passionate about Montessori, and passionate about Treetops.

She strives to make learning fun and memorable for the children and also places a strong emphasis on personal development. Her biggest reward is when past students come back to visit even after twenty years or so just because of the connection they feel to Children’s House. She simply cannot think of a job that she might enjoy more!

Sandra Hendy

Primary Teacher (Wattle)

Sandra began her career in education when she qualified as a Montessori teacher in 1996.  She is a huge advocate for children who strive to be independent and for children to be lifelong learners. Every child has a talent and she is passionate to help them on their learning journey.  Sandra encourages kindness, respect and confidence and ensures that children are aware of those that are less fortunate.

A graduate of Trinity College Dublin, Sandra earned a Bachelor of Education in 2004. She taught in Ireland for a further four years before her love of travel brought her to Indonesia. She had her first posting at an International IB School in Medan, North Sumatra in 2008. The IB curriculum and its principles combine beautifully with the independence and purpose of Montessori. Sandra graduated with the Primary Years Programme IB Curriculum in Singapore. She has a background in teaching positions at government, independent, Montessori and bilingual schools in Ireland, Indonesia, Dubai, Switzerland, Georgia, London and Western Australia. Sandra’s country upbringing on a farm in Ireland and her love of nature was one of the many reasons for joining Treetops.

She attended boarding school at Kilkenny College where she was a member of the school orchestra and choir. Sandra is a member of I Voci Choir and is a pianist.

Sandra has a strong belief in encouraging positive mental health in young people and practises mindfulness techniques with her students while and building their confidence and self-esteem. She is a volunteer with Ronald McDonald house which provides accommodation to families of sick children undergoing treatment for serious illnesses at Princess Margaret Hospital and support to their families. She has also recently begun training with ASeTTS which provides services to people who are humanitarian entrants or are from a refugee background.

Rachel Forknall

Primary Teacher (Marri)

Rachel is a Montessori Alumni and is very excited to be working at Treetops.

Rachel graduated from the University of Notre Dame Australia in 2014 and graduated with a Bachelor of Education (Primary) with a minor in Science. She spent her first year of teaching at an IB school in Darwin in Northern Territory. Rachel thoroughly enjoyed her experience in the Top End but is excited to be back in her hometown. She is looking forward to learning more about Treetops and is excited about implementing the Montessori and IB teaching philosophies.

Rachel became a teacher because she wants to support her students and guide them to achieve results to the best of their abilities. She enjoys watching students grow throughout the year and become confident, balanced and independent learners. Rachel has always wanted to teach at a Montessori School as a Montessori Alumni.

Treetops has a very friendly, warm, natural and welcoming environment and she is looking forward to being involved in the community.

Emma Moore

Primary Teacher (Karri)

Emma began her “working” career on the farm – from 1993 through to 2014 she fixed tractors, constructed electric fences, and continually moved stray cows off crops, roads, neighbours properties , and once even from a chook pen. However, she always had the burning desire to utlise her qualifications and teach.

With six sons to continually instruct, moving into teaching was a smooth transition. Emma graduated from UWA in 1993 with a Science Degree, with a second Major in “Human Movement”, (now called Physical Education.) University was a different life from her previous “protected” world as a WAIS gymnast, travelling around and competing all over Australia. However, it’s farming that Emma firmly believes farming shaped her teaching philosophy. The concepts of never giving up, no matter what is thrown at you, fixing situations as best as you can, as sometimes you are on your own with no help and no one to give you the answers. Emma thrives on that ability to instill knowledge in children, and best of all loves to witness and eager face when that knowledge inspires them to seek more information.

To Emma, teaching at Treetops is like being at home. Not only for our amazing physical environment, but in the enthusiasm of parents, the love of teachers for the children, the excellent education and the close connection that a multi-age system produces. Emma believes the Montessori environment provides everything children need to be able to develop an inner love for learning.

Jodi Kerslake

Teacher for Humanities, English, and Drama, International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP) Co-ordinator, Pamoja On-Line Education Site-Based Co-ordinator (SBC), Year 11 & 12 Advisory Teacher  

Jodi Kerslake has been a parent and a staff member at Treetops since 2004. She has worked in both the primary and secondary areas, which gives her a very good understanding of overall childhood development.

Jodi was specifically attracted to Treetops because of its adolescent programme, and remains committed to facilitating an educational environment in which young people can thrive. Most recently, she has focused on the options for year 11 and 12 students at Treetops.

Jodi began her working life as a university tutor at Curtin University, teaching professional English to business and science students as well as teaching within the Arts faculty. As she moved into secondary education, Jodi was involved in the establishment of two independent high schools – Port Community High School in Fremantle and Alia College in Melbourne. Jodi has also managed community centres and a caravan park, and worked as a health educator for Family Planning Victoria.

Jodi is passionate about small schools and Montessori education. She enjoys opportunities for developing cross-curricular activities and integrated projects. Previous cross-curricular projects include historical newspaper investigations using the State Library of WA archive; a whole-school performance based on the bio-diversity of South-West WA; yearly exhibitions showcasing the use of social science and language skills; publication of student creative writing in Makes Me Feel Alive annual; and high school productions of The Tempest and students’ own scripts in conjunction with Visual Arts programme. Jodi also enjoys writing learning programmes tailored to suit both the students and contemporary social issues, such as representations of disability, the potential impact of Artificial Intelligence, disruptive technologies, and changes to the nature of work. Jodi believes that iteration is key to skill development, and is most proud of the projects in which students stepped outside of their comfort zones.

Jodi is a qualified junior soccer coach, and can play the flute and the piano (though not very often, as she prefers to remain on good terms with her neighbours).

Mary Pollard

Classroom Music Teacher / Instrumental Teacher/School Choir Year 1 – 10 

Mary is a pianist and coordinates the classroom music program, private instrumental lessons, the school choir and any other ensembles as needed.

Mary has been at Treetops for a number of years as she has three of her own children currently enrolled at the school. Mary has worked at a number of scholarship music schools across the city, including Churchlands Senior High and Perth Modern School. She has been trained in and uses Kodaly Methodology in the classroom and believes that every student has the ability to increase their knowledge and skills through using their voice as their primary instrument. Mary has been a conductor with The Australian Youth Choir for 10 years and has traveled throughout Australia, the UK and Europe with the choir as an accompanist and conductor. She has a passion for working with Children of all ages and believes that singing as part of a group is a very important when creating belonging within communities such as class groups and schools. This is one of the reasons that Treetops also has a staff/parent choir that occasionally performs at school events.

Mary encourages all students to have a role within the music program, whether it be through learning class songs, whole school songs, school choir or learning an instrument. There is approximately one-third of the school’s population currently learning an instrument at school. Mary chose to become a teacher because of the wonderful influence of a handful of teachers in her own years at school and has chosen to work at Treetops because of the holistic approach to learning, the emphasis and importance placed on music within the school and because Treetops is a unique and diverse school with a strong sense of community and care for all students.

Sharon Crossman

Languages Teacher – Japanese

Sharon‘s teaching philosophy is best encapsulated by Albert Einstein, that is “I do not teach anyone. I only provide the environment in which they can learn”. The environment Sharon creates in her Japanese classroom is one of authenticity. Realistic scenarios and culture-rich resources provide the basis for genuine language learning that can be transferred to the real world.
Sharon has been learning Japanese since she was twelve, so is well placed to understand the needs of her students. At age twenty she plunged in the deep end and went to live in Japan on her own. Three children and various Japanese-related jobs later, Sharon decided to return to university to complete her teaching diploma. After teaching at a public high school, Sharon joined Treetops in July 2013.
Sharon loves witnessing the “lightbulb moments” that students have and feels privileged to be a part of their learning journey. She chose to teach at Treetops for the challenge of initiating the Japanese language program. She especially enjoys the flexibility in content delivery and the fact that she has the autonomy to adapt programs to reflect students’ interests.
Sharon has had some impressive achievements in her teaching career. In January 2013 she was one of only two Western Australian recipients of the Endeavour Language Teaching Fellowship. This involved three weeks of intensive Japanese language tuition at Kansai University in Osaka. She was instrumental in securing a Classroom Resources grant for Treetops in 2014 and was selected to attend the Intensive Seminar for Japanese teachers at the Japan Foundation Sydney in January 2016. She is an active member of the Japanese Language Teachers Association of WA.
Sharon is happily married with three children and has been a Glen Forrest local for eighteen years. She loves walking in the bush with the her dog and singing while she cooks.

Kim Steimer

Specialist Teacher – Science, Year 9 & 10 Advisory Teacher

Kim is from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where she graduated with an IB Diploma and is very excited to be teaching at a Montessori and IB school.
She believes every child is a natural learner and that her job is to foster this in each child and young adult she teaches. Kim is excited to join Treetops mostly for its focus on the individual and independent learning.
Kim attended George Washington University, majoring in Chemistry and Biological Anthropology. After her studies, she returned to George Washington to work as a laboratory technician. Her love of travel and service began while at University when she was able to lead a group of students through Belize and Mexico. After teaching in the US for one year she moved to the  International School in Costa Rica where her taste for globe-trotting (and also the beach!) really took hold.
Now living in Fremantle, she loves beautiful Australia and is excited for her new journey with Treetops.

Peter Zylstra

Specialist Teacher – Visual Art, Design and Technology, Year 9 & 10 Advisory Teacher

Peter was born in Canada, and lived in a number of different countries until happily settling in Australia in 2006. He now lives in Darlington with his partner and two children. Peter’s teaching experience includes lecturing at universities in the US, a secondary school in Mexico, TAFE programs in WA, artist residencies, community inclusion workshops and guest lectures at various art institutions. Peter brings valuable industry knowledge to the classroom from his work across community and cultural development, social services and film and media production. As a practicing artist and photographer, Peter has been involved in over fifty exhibitions throughout the world and numerous curatorial projects and publications.

Peter has a Graduate Diploma of Education (Art and Media specialisation), a Master of Fine Arts, and a Bachelor of Fine Arts.

Peter has taught in a variety of settings that includes working for many years with people from diverse cultural backgrounds, experiences and abilities. Early in his career, Peter was a Counsellor then Assistant Director at an educational summer camp for at-risk students. The many positive outcomes from this experiential learning program had a profound impact on his career as an educator. In the subsequent twenty years, he has continued to strongly support creative exploration through tactile, collaborative and inquiry-based learning due to their positive impact on learning and overall student wellbeing. Along with wanting to work in his local community, these educational values are why Peter has chosen to work at Treetops.

Paul Gillespie

Specialist Teacher – High School Mathematics, Year 7 & 8 Advisory Teacher

 

Sandy Eaton

Teachers Aide

Sandy emigrated from England with her husband and two sons in 2009 after a career as a Teacher’s and Special Needs Assistant in the UK. Educated in South Africa and with extensive travel experience around the globe, Sandy and her family chose Darlington to bring up their family.

With a Cert IV in Education Support, Cache Level 2 CPP Introduction to Pre-school Practice and Diploma in Personnel Management, Sandy believes Treetops provides a safe environment for all to build confidence in their ability to achieve both academically and socially, to become independent learners. She appreciates the close-knit community of parents, staff and students and the Montessori approach to education promoting independence.

Sandy believes it is important that we give children the best start to their educational journey, under the direction of the teacher, and that we help children with their educational and social development, both in and out of the classroom. She loves that no two days at Treetops are the same and that she has the opportunity to utlise her skills in cooking, art, puzzle solving, working with small groups and one on one and helping children reach their full potential. For Sandy, witnessing a child master a task is the ultimate reward.

Sandy has fully embraced the Australian environment; she is often rescuing bobtails, geckos and spider bugs. She’s passionate about our oceans and is a qualified Padi diver.

Liz Wilson

Teachers Aide

Liz is the mother of three children ranging from 8 years to 18 years of age and comes from a very big family. This places her well to be in her fifth year at Treetops! She has experienced various educational philosophies with her own children but feels the learning at Treetops is a wonderful, nurturing environment for a child to flourish.

Liz has seen the 3 year Montessori work cycle help a child develop from a timid 3 year old,  to a 6 year old child who is creative, spiritual, independent, emotional, physical and intellectual human being that has had a fantastic grounding to embrace their learning journey.

Liz has a passion for working with children which began in her teens when she became a swimming instructor and enjoyed watching children achieve levels they hadn’t previously believed themselves capable of.  This lead to running a Private Swim school for children who had fears  or problems with learning how to swim and this naturally lead Liz into education.

In Liz’s personal life she has a passion for lead lighting, art and making things look beautiful around her. She loves nothing better than heading out with her friends for a 6am bike ride to welcome in the day.

Tamera Skewes

Teachers Aide

Tamera Skewes is an experienced Education Assistant who is married and is a mother of two girls. She believes all children have the right to an excellent education that focuses on respecting and encouraging each child’s individual differences while providing a nurturing environment to teach social interaction and emotional skills.

Tam has been employed as an Education Assistant since 2008. She has extensive experience in assisting children with a variety of special needs and learning difficulties as well as those with psychological and emotional challenges.

Before children, Tam worked for several years in the residential building industry and with a husband who is a builder, this equates to her being a jack of all trades. Tam and her family have a genuine love of the great outdoors and they are often out camping over the school holiday period. She has a passion for AFL and somehow manages to cope with the rivalry between the Dockers and the Eagles during the football season.

Treetops Administration

Treetops Administration staff combine a multitude of skills to run a vibrant and dedicated system for every day running of the school and support for teaching staff and parents and students. Treetops permanent Administration and Non Teaching Staff include a Business Manager, Bursar, Director of Communications, IT Specialist, Maintenance Officer and, most importantly, an amazing Receptionist.