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Learning Support Coordinators

Astrid Read

I am currently working as Learning Support Coordinator at the beautiful Kaharoa School.

Over the years I have had the privilege of classroom teaching, as well as  Learning Support or Remedial Teaching in a number of South African or New Zealand Schools. Since being in New Zealand I have been on a journey of teaching and learning within the New Zealand framework, and of aligning my experience and skills to this context; a continuing journey! 


I have found that this multi-faceted position which is the Learning Support Coordinator role aligns well with my educational philosophy and passion; in brief, that of ensuring that school can be a happy and successful place for all students and teachers. 

I am thoroughly enjoying being part of this awesome school and broader Kāhui, working with colleagues and other professionals to support students and whānau with their learning support needs.


Carey Bennett

Kia Ora Koutou.  Ko Carey Bennett toku ingoa.  


I am a Mum, teacher, friend, mentor and colleague and have taught in Rotorua schools for nearly 20 years.  


As Learning Support Coordinator within the Te Maru o Ngongotaha Kāhui Ako, I am here to support ākonga and their whanau when accessing learning support and advice.  My goal is to ensure a learner’s voice is heard, students are recognised for their super powers, and they can celebrate their specific styles of learning.  By ensuring that systems are in place to support ākonga, it is easier for teachers and their students to get straight to the heart of the matter….quality teaching and learning.  


As a Kahui Ako we work together to meet the immediate needs of individuals and their family, grow learning passion, and successfully scaffold students on their journey to adulthood. 


Please contact me anytime for a chat.  My door is always open.

Noho ora mai

Carey Bennett

027 2464816

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Chris Frances

Kia ora, shwmae, hello. My name is Chris Francis, I was born in Wales but grew up on the East Coast and still have strong ties to Te Tairāwhiti.


I trained as a Teacher at the Auckland Teachers’ College in Epsom and then began my career at Henderson Valley School, an amazing school in West Auckland.  It was not long before I returned to Teachers’ College to start my journey along the Special Education path with a Diploma of Teaching for students with Hearing Impairment. 

I travelled to London with my wife Sarah, where we both taught in various schools whilst exploring Europe and visiting my whānau in Wales.

When we returned to Aotearoa I accepted a Teacher of the Deaf position based here in Rotorua.  

When we started our family I accepted a teaching position at Malfroy School where I was involved with the ICT team, the PE team and was involved with the Central Kahui Ako Special Needs Team.

At the end of 2019 the Ministry of Education announced plans to introduce Learning Support Coordinators. I applied for the shared position across Selwyn and Sunset Schools.

I enjoy this interesting and ever evolving role, working to develop the best educational opportunities for our students.


Billinda Connolly-Tevendale

I am delighted to be the Learning Support Coordinator for Western Heights Primary School.  I love the variety and busyness that comes with being a LSC, no two days are the same!  I get to work alongside dedicated teachers as we strive to help each child be the best they can be.    


I have worked in education for 19 years where I have enjoyed many roles including: team leader, Reading Recovery teacher, SENCo, Acting Principal and most recently Deputy Principal.  


My goal each day is to help make others shine and be the reason someone smiles!  


Lavinia Shepherd

Tena Koutou Katoa,

Ko te uri au o Ngati Whakaue me Te Whanau a Apanui whanui. I tipu au ki Kawerau, kei te noho au i Rotorua inaianei.  Ko Lavinia Shepherd toku ingoa.


I have been working in education for over 13 years, and I am very grateful for landing my new role as Learning Support Coordinator for Rotorua Primary School. 


I enjoy being the key contact for whānau of ākonga with learning needs. Building a culture of collaboration and openness between whanau, the Learning Support Coordinator, SENCO and other educational professionals where many strategies are discussed and shared. I am passionate about improving outcomes for Maori and ensuring students build positive relationships and experience success in their learning.


Anei he whakatauki…

Ahakoa pēhea te iti, e mata tonu ana.  -   No matter how small, it has potential.

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Mereana Himona

"Mai i Ngā Kuri a Whārei Ki Tihirau…"

Tēnā tātou katoa,

He uri ahau ngā waka o Te Arawa, Horouta, me te Mataatua.

Ko Te Arawa, Ngāti Manawa, Ngāti Awa, Ngāti Porou, Ngāi Tūhoe,  me Whakatohea oku iwi.


Ko Ross Himona tōku hoa rangatira. Nō Ngāi Tahu, Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa, Ngāpuhi me Āirani Māori Kūki ona iwi.

Ko Erina rāua ko  Henare āku tamariki

Ko Te Mana tāku whangai.


A passionate teacher with many years of experience teaching at Mangakino High School, Rangitahi College - Murupara, Tarawera High School, Northern Health School and presently one of two LSCs and Senco at Western Heights High School.


A tireless advocate for neurodiverse students and their whānau to find ways to work with strengths of the student to enable them to participate and experience educational success in a school setting.  A versatile specialist education teacher with a strong focus on individual student needs across academia, behavioural and emotional development. Empathetic and accommodating in design and implementation of cultural and  relational pedagogy, catering to diverse learning needs and abilities. Proficient in employing constant communication, patience and positive reinforcement in team efforts to deliver exceptional educational tools, connecting external agencies in an effort to foster academic and social achievement for all students.


I am very proud to be a part of  Te Maru o Ngongotahā Kāhui Ako - Community of Learning.

Ngā mihi nui.


Tracey Low

Kia ora, my name is Tracey Low. I was born in Rotorua, grew up in Papamoa, then returned to Rotorua as an adult 28 years ago. Although I am of Tainui and Mataatua descent, I have taught in the Te Arawa rohe, Rotorua, for the past 22 years. In that time I have held various leadership positions. I have also been the in-school lead of Digital Technology, Maths and Literacy for Rotorua East Kāhui Ako, then an Across Schools Leader. My role included working with Early Childhood centres, schools and local hapū to develop the Curriculum from preschool to Year 9 and ensure smooth transitions from primary to intermediate for our akonga. I am passionate about ensuring all tamariki are able to access learning by having their social, emotional and physical needs met, knowing that relationships are key to success. My position as an LSC provides the context and resources to be able to do this in a deliberate, sincere and meaningful way.

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