Meet the team!

Our Team

Carissa Vaudrey

Managing Director and Co Founder

Playschool Au Pairs was born from my passion of everything new and exciting. I love to explore far away places, undertake new challenges and meet new people. Having started Playschool Education in 2008, Playschool Au Pairs was a natural progression and since its inception we have grown at lightening speed.

Playschool Au Pairs is an experienced Au Pair agency offering quality Au Pairs, exceptional follow up support and a genuine passion for what we do.

As a mum of seven year old twins who has had 7 Au Pairs in the past, I am able to base my business decisions on how this would affect my Family and Au Pairs then use this experience in my current business practice. I ensure we offer our Families and Au Pairs only the best service at all times.

Playschool is large enough to offer a wealth of knowledge and equipment but also small enough to care. Click here to view our IAPA Certificate of Membership.



Deane Bearman

Payroll and Accounts Manager and Co Founder

I am Deane Bearman and I am the Payroll and Accounts Manager for Playschool Au Pairs as well as a Co Founder of the Company. I have a long history in the Education industry founding my own Nannying Agency in 2001. I enjoy the challenge this industry brings, both In-home Care as well as Au Pairing. I am a mum of two children aged 10 and 12 and have hosted several Au Pairs myself.

My role is to manage the background work that goes into the financial aspects of the business and ensuring our Families and Au Pairs needs are met through the financial support services we offer.

I am very excited to be a part of the business development we currently have underway in 2016, extending our services to other parts of the world and increasing who we offer our services too.



Laura Slater

Family Placement Co-ordinator

My name is Laura and I have joined the Playschool Team as the Family Placement Coordinator. I was drawn in by Playschool’s positive workplace culture, as well as their commitment to provide ongoing support to their families and Au Pairs. I am passionate about helping people and I am excited to be working with an equally passionate and dedicated team here at Playschool.

I recently graduated from The University of Auckland with a double major in Psychology and Education. I chose to study Psychology and Education because I care deeply about making a difference in the lives of others. I think it is extremely important that people feel heard, valued and accepted, especially during their most difficult times. I have also worked in various Customer Service roles and office environments where I enjoyed building relationships with clients and colleagues. These fast-paced work environments have taught me how to think on my feet and adapt to a wide range of situations.

Our stakeholders place a great deal of trust in Playschool, so I understand how important it is to make a successful match and provide ongoing support to our families and Au Pairs. I am driven by a passion to understand and support youth and families and my approach to building these relationships is based on respect, trust and integrity. I believe that warmth and kindness should never be underestimated and this is always at the heart of my relationships with others.



Bacherlor of Arts Double Majoring in Psychology and Education

University of Auckland

Kirsty Hall

Programme Manager

I have always had a strong passion for children and being an educator to triplets made me aware that I wanted to proceed in Early Childhood Education and make a career out of extending and developing children’s ideas and theories. I spent the next 3 years studying at the University of Waikato for my Bachelors in Education in ECE and then came back to Auckland to teach. Teaching runs through my family as my mother has been a primary teacher for over 20 years!

I have spent 2 ½ years working with 3 year olds in a Reggio Inspired centre. The opportunity arose to become a Program Coordinator and I was excited to start this new chapter in my life. I believe that children learn their most important life skills in their early years and what better place to learn these than in the home environment. I have been working for Playschool since July 2010. I am excited and humbled for the opportunity to come into people’s homes and visit families and be a resource to them. I love meeting with families and sharing those ‘magic moments’ with the children and their educators alike and watching as these children grow and develop. Playschool is a great resource to use when extending your child’s learning.

Home based care is a stimulating opportunity for children as it allows them to learn in a familiar environment where they feel loved and nurtured.



Bachelor of Education ECE
New Zealand

Waikato University

Kushla Ryan

Territory and Programme Co-ordinator

Whilst training for my Diploma through distance learning, I worked as a Teacher in a well known centre, KinderCare learning Centre, in Henderson. This gave me my foundations for excellence in child care and education. After completing my Diploma I wanted to find out and experience other childcare services so I thought it felt like a great time for change so I made the decision to move to a new centre (Apples Childcare and Learning Centre). A few months into the role I was appointed Head teacher of the Pre-school room from ages 3-4, I had a blast in this role, I enjoyed working alongside families and their children, trying to achieve the best possible care and education in an aesthetically, warm and inviting setting. Reflecting on my own childhood is what started to develop my interest in home based childcare; I wanted to find out how I, as a teacher, could help support families and Educators further develop children’s learning while being cared for at home. From here I joined the team at Playschool as a Programme Co ordinator and I am now able to help out with all sorts of questions and further extend children in their natural environment of home! I enjoy my visits with my families and I love seeing how the children are progressing. My personal philosophy incorporates, learning through a safe, happy and fun environment with added help along the way when needed. Playschool allows me to utilise my philosophy everytime I step through the door of one of the children I oversee. I am grateful for this opportunity to work alongside the families, friends and staff here at Play-School!



Bachelor of Education ECE
New Zealand

College of ECE & NZTC

Courtney Wood

Programme Co-ordinator

My name is Courtney Wood, I have three awesome boys. Two are my sons and I also host a great boy from Thailand who attends Westlake Boys High School.

I am so excited to be part of the team at Playschool Education in New Zealand.

I have been a teacher in preschools for around eight years and at a private boarding college as well.  I have a Bachelor Degree in Education (ECE) and I have also studied in Biculturalism in Social work practice. My whanau and I recently moved back to Auckland from Tauranga/ Mount Maunganui where we have now settled in the beautiful North Shore. I come from a very diverse and multicultural family and we value our time together as a family. I have a great interest in Art, Kapa-haka & travel.

As a Programme Coordinator I have a strong passion in providing children with quality interactions and experiences to learn and develop as competent and confident learners. I believe every child should have the independence and opportunity to reach their full potential at a pace that is right for them. I value and respect the relationships with all the families and children I meet. I am very friendly and have a gracious, kind and caring approach. I am looking forward to meeting all our wonderful families. “Teachers who love teaching, teach children to love learning”

Nga mihi,
Courtney Wood


Bachelor of Education ECE
New Zealand

New Zealand
Tertiary Institute

Kerrin Nawisielski

Programme Co-ordinator

I have been an Early Childhood Teacher for over 20 years. I originally trained in Christchurch at ‘The New Zealand Nanny School’. After completing my training I moved to Auckland where I was a Nanny for 8 years. Throughout this time I really enjoyed the Care and Education within the Home Base Setting. My time as a Nanny I cared for 3 children ranging from new-born to 10 years.

I believe that children can learn and are supported in their growth and development in a smaller and natural environment. By utilising resources that you use every day around the home we can recycle and creating different activities (Art and Craft, Science, Music and Outdoor play) using things found around home. By creating a calm environment around young children it allows for a relaxing, and peaceful learning environment. I believe that as a teacher I have the opportunity to inspire, extend and challenge children’s thinking through education and playing in a safe and homey environment.

I completed my Diploma of Teaching in 2002 through distance learning at ‘The New Zealand Tertiary College’. I have worked in a number of centres over the years as a Teacher and Centre Supervisor. This has been in both community based and privately owned. Throughout my time in the ECE sector I have learnt so much about children and how they learn. I enjoy observing their play and how their games evolve into meaningful and fun activities.

Children are like sponges and as a Teacher I like to inspire, explore, investigate and learn in a respectful environment.

Our lives are so busy on a day to day basis. I find in childcare it is just too busy. I have made the decision to step back into a more calming and peaceful environment.

I am excited to be given this role as Programme Coordinator for Playschool.

I will do my best to support the growth and development of all children and their caregivers within their home environment.


Diploma of Teaching ECE

Diploma in Nannying New Zealand

New Zealand Tertiary College & New Zealand Nanny School

Louise Cai

Programme Co-ordinator

Kia Ora/ Ni hao,

My name is Louise. I recently joined the big Playschool family as a programme coordinator. After attaining my Graduate Diploma in teaching (Early Childhood Education), I became the youngest full-time teacher in a noted centre. My workload was enormous but so were my achievements and personal growth. I had such a great time working with my “little angels/monsters” and became their favourite big monkey/human bean bag/buddy/role model! Apart from professional teaching, I’ve been a volunteer for Rainbow Youth and Youthline Auckland for a long while, in a role of inspiring those young minds.

Originally from a big city, I’m always ready to get to know people and connect with them. “Teaching” has been my entire life since I find it fulfilling. As a reward, it cultivates my open mind and sense of gratitude.

I believe children are our future; family and community make us united! When it comes to education, my favourite quotes are “a mind once opened never closes” and “a teacher takes a hand, opens a mind and touches a heart”. Playschool is dedicated to our next generation which matches well with my values. I am so honoured and excited to work for Playschool as it is the bridge that allows me to connect between children and Educators by passing on my passion and professional knowledge!


Graduate Diploma of Education ECE New Zealand

New Zealand
Tertiary College

Jenny Li

Programme Co-ordinator

Kia Ora/Ni Hao, my name is Jenny and I would like to take this opportunity to introduce myself as a new member of the Playschool team. Originally I came from China, I have been living in New Zealand about 11 years. I completed my Bachelor of Early Childhood Teaching through AUT in 2010, after that I have worked in varied centres through North Shore area. I have been involved in early childhood sector for the past 6 years. I love children and enjoy working alongside them. I always believe love for children is my motivation to choose early childhood as my career.

In 2016, I became a mother. Through nurturing my wee one I had a chance to review my teaching from a parent’s point of view, which made me realise that important the home environment and primary caregiver role is. When I look at the home based education, I feel it is a great way to nurture children in their familiar place and is able to meet their needs directly. Home based education is a new area of teaching for me, but I am excited to take this new role which involves cooperating with educators and parents to help children to foster their interests and development.

I am looking forward to meeting all our wonderful families and I will do my best to support our educators to provide a proper home learning environment to meet children’s different learning needs and to build those fundamental learning blocks of confidence, respect, independence, a sense of adventure and determination.


Bachelor of Education ECE
New Zealand

New Zealand Tertiary College

Shayna McGee

Programme Co-ordinator

Kia ora, I’m Shayna McGee and I am the Playschool Programme Co Ordinator for the greater Wellington region.

I have spent the past one and a half years being a stay at home mum to my beautiful son Noah. My husband and I have been married for 6 years and live just out of Central Wellington.

I am a fully qualified Early Childhood Teacher, qualifying at Victoria University in Wellington.

Before having my son I spent three years at Mana Early Learning Centre where I was the Head Teacher of the transition to school room. Prior to this I spent 4 years with Kindercare Learning Centre in various roles and it is here I developed my deep passion for child care.

I’m super excited about this new adventure with Playschool, as I believe children’s learning, growth and development all starts at home.

I believe that we need to ensure that all children are being encouraged to develop and reach their full potential.

I look forward to spending time getting to know you and your family.



Bachelor of Education ECE
New Zealand

Victoria University

Ashley Johnston

Programme Co-ordinator

Hi my name is Ashley Johnston, I’m a married mother of three from Hamilton, Waikato and I will be the Programme Co Ordinator for the Waikato region.  I’ve been teaching in the Early Childhood industry in Hamilton for the last 10 years.

I have always had a desire to work with young children and began my training at the age of 18 years by studying for my National Nanny Certificate. After enjoying some time as a Nanny I went on to continue my studies and graduated with a Bachelor of Teaching ECE in 2011.  I have had a wide range of teaching experience from working in a mixed age center to being a head Teacher of an under two center.  I have spent the last three years working from my own home as a Home Based Educator. I am very passionate about promoting and supporting quality education and care for young children.  I believe that Home Based care is so beneficial for children as it provides the most comfortable, safe, and supportive environment for them to learn in while building important one on one relationships with their Educator.  The opportunity to work for Playschool Education as a Programme Co Ordinator in the Waikato region is something I am very excited about and I can’t wait to get out and about meeting all the wonderful families, Educators and children.



Bachelor of Education ECE
New Zealand

Waikato University

Amanda Anderson

Programme Co-ordinator

Kia Ora,

My name is Amanda Anderson, I was born and raised in Hawkes Bay and I have been teaching for the past 10 years. I have had a passion for education from an early age and decided that early childhood teaching highlighted my personal qualities and beliefs about when learning begins. I completed my Diploma of Teaching in 2008 and furthered this study to gain my Bachelor in Early Childhood Education more recently. I have had a range of experiences focusing on different age groups and philosophies. My most recent position was as a primary caregiver with toddlers utilising the Pikler philosophy of education. I enjoy working alongside parents, and whanau to provide quality learning experiences that nurtures and fosters a child’s emotional, social and cognitive abilities. I am really looking forward to my exciting new role as a programme coordinator for Playschool Education. I am committed to working with you to provide the best quality start for the precious children in your care.


Bachelor of Education ECE
New Zealand

New Zealand Tertiary College

Cyndi McDougall

Programme Co-ordinator

Kia ora koutou. My name is Cyndi McDougall and I am the new Playschool Programme Coordinator for the Manawatu, Rangitikei and Tararua areas.

I was born and bred in a small town called Pahiatua – about a 40-minute drive from where I currently live in Palmerston North.

I have one adult son who also lives in Palmy and a mischievous feline fur baby.

In my ‘spare time’ I enjoy a range of handcrafts from knitting to flax weaving and I consider myself an ‘arty/crafty’ type. I enjoy taking part in swimming and aqua aerobics.

I have a strong interest in Maori culture and I am actively increasing my knowledge in this area through my weaving and Te Reo classes as well as incorporating Tikanga Maori into my daily lifestyle.

In the late ‘90s I completed my Diploma of Teaching in Early Childhood at Massey University College of Education and I have over 20 years experience working with children and families in both home and centre settings.

I worked for Parents As First Teachers for almost 4 years and throughout this time I really enjoyed the aspect of working with children and their families in their own environment. From there my interest and enthusiasm for home based care has really grown.

My philosophy is based around relationships as I strongly believe positive and reciprocal relationships are the basis of any care and education involving young children. Young children thrive in an environment where they feel safe and secure – both physically and emotionally. I believe that each individual child has the right to be valued, encouraged and empowered to reach their full potential.

I am really excited to have this role and look forward to meeting, getting to know and working alongside families in this region.


Diploma of Teaching ECE

Massey University

Sarah Lester

Programme Co-ordinator

From a young age I was always told I should be a teacher. I didn’t take it seriously until I had some life experience behind me and realised the joy that comes from working with children and that I wanted to make that a career. I studied a Bachelor of Teaching & Learning (ECE) at the University of Canterbury for 3 years as an adult student, graduating in 2013 and then moved back to Wanaka to begin my teaching career.

I have spent the past four years working in a small community based centre in Wanaka. I took a break to have our son Jamie, and while on maternity leave the opportunity arose to become a Program Coordinator for Playschool in our region.

I base my practice on the Pikler approach to child care and the importance of respecting children as individuals and whole people. I believe quality education and care begins with genuine, respectful relationships.

Now I have my own child, I am discovering the benefits and opportunities home based care has to offer children and their families. I am excited to support our educators, families and children on their learning journey through the Playschool programme.


Bacherlor of Education ECE

University of Canterbury

Nicola McKinlay-Clark

Programme Co-ordinator

Hi there!  My name is Nic Mckinlay-Clark and I am thrilled to be your Programme Co-ordinator.  I have been an Early Childhood Teacher for the past six years and love the relationships formed between the tamariki and whanau I have worked alongside.  I truly feel that solid, trusting and nurturing relationships are key for children to become future confident and capable learners. I am excited to be on this journey with you and your family.

I live in Swannanoa, North Canterbury with my husband Andy and two children, Zoe and Neve.  We also have a huge menagerie of animals – two dogs, two pet sheep, three lizards, 15 chickens, 10 ducks, three rabbits and two guinea pigs!  There is always noise and usually happy mayhem at my house!!

I look forward to getting to know your whanau better and helping to create some lifelong learning and memories – any questions at all, please let me know!

“Whangia ka tupu, ka puawai” – that which is nurtured, blossoms and grows


Graduate Diploma of Teaching ECE

Bacherlor of Arts Majoring in Sociology

Otago University

Terri-Anne Cooper

Administration Officer

Hi I am Terri-Anne Cooper and I have worked as Playschool’s Administration Officer since early 2013. Having run several of my own successful businesses in the past I have a strong background in Accounts Administration and expertise in MYOB, XERO and APT.

Please feel free to contact me should you require any help with child or Educator subsidy payments, payroll enquiries and any general queries. I look forward to hearing from you.