Penny Freeborn

Two highlights for 2018 for me were completing my Bachelor of Teaching and relieving at Shotover Primary School for the last few weeks of term! I made the move up to Queenstown (from Invercargill) over the summer and am thrilled to be starting my teaching career at such a great school.

Teaching is my passion and I am so happy to be working in a field that brings me so much joy. Getting to know the learner is at the heart of my teaching practice and my goal is to provide opportunities for all learners.

I am really excited to make Queenstown my home and explore the surrounding beauty that is Central Otago. When I am not teaching I like to swim, play board games and practice the piano.

Sarah File

Kia ora, Dia dhuit, Olá, Gruß Gott, Salut, Ni Hāo and Hello!

My name is Sarah. I am beyond excited for this school year to begin and cannot wait to meet you and your precious sons and daughters. My focus right from day one will be to begin developing meaningful relationships with each one of them; figuring out who they are and what makes them tick.

Together we will create a safe, supportive learning environment where each one will know and feel that they belong. Getting to know you is an important part of that process and I hope you will take every opportunity when time allows to come and be part of our Kawarau community.

Myself, my husband and our two children, Ciara (9) and Ronan (6) are all ecstatic to be settling in Queenstown having spent the last five years in Auckland and ten before that in Ireland. We are really looking forward to becoming part of the Shotover Country community and taking advantage of all that this beautiful place has to offer. The kids cannot believe they get to go skiing during school time!

Here’s to a great year ahead for us all!

Karyn Wallis | Release Teacher

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I’m stoked to be a part of the Shotover team. I like to call myself a semi local. Being brought up in Southland and having the family ‘crib’ in Arrowtown from when I was born I have a good knowledge of our area and am enjoying bringing our family up here with all it has to offer. I am a mother of 3 kids here at Shotover Primary and wife of a super Dad who works offshore.

My teaching experience spans the globe for the past 18 years. I’ve worked in Japan, Australia and NZ. Even doing a stint as Principal. Just ask me about it. I took a few years break after moving back to NZ with our young kids but somehow found my way back into the classroom. I enjoy teaching a range of ages, developing good relationships with the children and aim to provide some fun along the way.

Outside of school, you might see me taxiing my kids around to their multitude of after school activities, gyming, hiking, biking, skiing, running (or more recently shuffling), boating or having a quiet drink with family and friends at the local.

Kate Burns

Kia ora, my name is Kate. I am originally from the UK where I began my teaching career working in a new entrants class. After three years teaching in a primary school setting in the UK I decided to embark on some new experiences and travel opportunities.

My travels took me to Australia and New Zealand.  I have spend the last two years teaching a kindy class here in Queenstown and developing my knowledge of Te Whāriki the early childhood curriculum.

With an early childhood teaching background I advocate learning through play and recognise the importance of providing a stimulating, innovative learning environment. I have an interest in nature play and outdoor learning and can’t wait to take advantage of our stunning local environment. I am excited to join the Shotover team and to be part of a culture that values others to learn and grow.

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Kathryn McKie


I feel privileged to have the opportunity to be part of such an amazing team. I started teaching in the UK 8 years ago and it just gets more rewarding each year! I moved to New Zealand 3 years ago and after 6 months I missed teaching so much that I registered my qualifications over here. 

I spent a year and a half working at an Early Childcare Centre in Queenstown before being offered the job here. Working in the Early Childcare sector has given me valuable insight into play based learning. I love how much weight Shotover places on this type of learning as I have seen how beneficial it is. I am looking forward to being able to utilise and develop the skills I have acquired both in the primary and early year sectors here at Shotover Primary School.

Kate Clydesdale

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Kia ora, my name is Miss Kate and I come from St Clair School in Dunedin.

I am most excited to be leaving the sea and joining the mountains in the Wakatipu. It is brilliant to be joining a progressive, purpose-built school that is similar to the community I come from.

I have also taught in Auckland where I trained in Reading Recovery.

I enjoy teaching all areas of the curriculum and get very excited about reading, writing and art. I look forward to getting to know your children and igniting in them the Shotover Primary School vision, “Creating a Climate of Possibility.”

Nadine McCulloch

Kia Ora

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My teaching career began over 20 years ago in Invercargill. Since then I have been teaching a variety of age groups in different schools. I also specialise in music and Reading Recovery.

I am passionate about building children’s confidence, fostering creativity and providing authentic experiences and  opportunities for children to become connected, life-long learners.

My husband and I have 3 children and we are proud of all of them. My family is very important to me and I value my time I spend with them.

We moved to Arrowtown in 2002 so that we could provide our family with the many opportunities that the area has to offer.

I have been fortunate enough to be teaching at Arrowtown School for the past few years.  I am excited to be starting a new journey with the passionate, and highly motivating team from Shotover School. I look forward to working with you all.

Kirsty Grave


After spending the last few years in Canada and Australia, it is exciting to be back home in New Zealand. My partner  Daniel and I are excited to make Shotover Country our home with our puppy Lila.

I spent the first 5 years teaching down in Southland and I am very excited to be back, doing what I love as part of the team, at Shotover Primary. I think that working with kids is one of the most rewarding jobs, each day is a surprise!

In my spare time I enjoy baking, reading and making the most of our beautiful surroundings in Queenstown.

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Vicki Elliott

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I feel extremely privileged to be joining the teaching team at Shotover Primary. I moved to Queenstown from the UK in 2016 with my partner and our son, Ollie, who attends Shotover. I’ve spent the last 15 years working as a software engineer in the UK, but I have always wanted to teach and decided the move to NZ was the the perfect time to re-train. I took the plunge, and spent a year completing my teaching qualification, which included placements at Remarkables and Queenstown Primary schools.

I have always believed that we should give children as broad an education as possible to maximise the opportunities for them to discover their passion. If a child finds something that gives them that spark, it will be with them for life. I think it’s important to provide authentic learning experiences for children that reflect the real world and I’m really excited about exploring the opportunities we have here in this unique environment. 

Outside school, I can be found exploring the local walking and swimming spots in Summer, snowboarding in Winter and always trying to involve myself in various singing or theatrical activities! I have been involved with the school as a parent for the past year and we are looking forward to joining the Shotover Country community when we move into our new house in 2018.

Aimee O'Sullivan

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After growing up in Invercargill, I moved to Dunedin to train as a teacher. I started my teaching career at St Bernard’s College in Lower Hutt before moving to St Mark’s Church School in Wellington. I have spent the past few years teaching Year 2 students and more recently I have led a team of teachers to strengthen learning capabilities in students who face learning difficulties. My partner and I have been lured back to Queenstown by exciting job opportunities, family and the great outdoors.

My family is really important to me and I love spending as much time as I can with my nieces and nephews. In my spare time I enjoy exploring the outdoors and I’m looking forward to spending more time on the lake or up on the slopes. My partner is a teacher as well, and as a result we enjoy travelling when we get the chance to.

I believe that school should be an interesting, inspiring and innovative environment where students are free to explore their love of learning. I am passionate about building strong relationships with my students and I encourage them to exceed their expectations and to make the most of the opportunities presented to them in such a unique environment.

I am looking forward to be heading south again to join the team and meeting the wider whānau of Shotover Primary School.

Alice Irvine

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After growing up in Invercargill, I made Canterbury my home. I am excited to have headed south again to join the team at Shotover Primary School. I enjoy the arts, cooking, biking and walking.

As a teacher, I am passionate about fostering children’s creativity, individuality and independence. I am enthusiastic about digital learning and providing authentic experiences for children to be connected learners.

Adele Gardyne


I am so excited to be a part of the Shotover team.  I studied in Dunedin and completed a Bachelor of Teaching (Primary).  I grew up on a farm in Waikaka, Southland. My family is really important to me and I love spending as much time as I can with my gorgeous nieces and nephews.

I love inspiring students to believe that they can achieve in their learning. It is human nature to be curious about the world around us. I love to harness this curiosity and guide students to inquire into their thoughts and ideas. Students already have opinions and thoughts about why things are way they are and by guiding and supporting them through Concept their ideas or thoughts can be challenged, developed and confirmed.

Kim Duggan


I grew up in Queenstown and began my teaching career in the area as a specialist PE and Health Teacher before venturing to teach in Southland and go on some adventures overseas. I have been pulled back to Queenstown by what the area has to offer, family  and the opportunity to teach in a pretty unique environment!

I had a very positive experience growing up here and hope to pass that onto others. I am excited by the possibilities to grow and develop my teaching at Shotover Primary School by creating an environment where kids can thrive, feel supported and have a sense of belonging.

I am an active person, who enjoys a challenge and I love being in the outdoors as much as I can. I have played a variety of team sports, competed in triathlons and enjoy running the local tracks. I believe it is important to have a balanced and active lifestyle.


Sarah Gagliardi

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 Kia ora kotou

My name is Sarah and I am a mentor in the Skippers habitat. I am originally from Christchurch and moved to Queenstown earlier in August. I started my teaching career in Christchurch and have most recently taught students in years 6-8. I completed my teaching degree at the University of Canterbury, and due to my interest in healthcare, I also studied to become an ambulance officer – a role I undertake in my spare time. 

At the beginning of this year I set out to travel developing countries and explored education systems in India, Tanzania and Kenya. Of course with that I came home with a newfound appreciation of what we have here in New Zealand. It’s a privilege working at Shotover Primary, a school that embraces diversity, curiosity and innovation. I am wowed by this school’s mission and the ways in which it fosters growth and exciting opportunities for our students. 

When I’m not teaching or on the ambulance you’ll find me tinkering on the piano, reading, playing sport or exploring the great outdoors. I am so thrilled to be living here in such a beautiful part of our country! 

Sharon Witheford | Release & Specialist Mentor

Kia ora koutou Shotover whānau,

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My family and I moved from Invercargill in 2015. I have two children, one of which is starting in Year 7 at Shotover Primary in 2016 and a 14 year old who attends Wakatipu High School. As a family we are loving our new life in Queenstown and cherish the many opportunities it brings. We truly feel we are ‘living the dream'.

I have been teaching for 25 years, mostly at the year 5-6 level. I am Reading Recovery trained as well as having rich professional development on teaching students who have been identified as gifted and talented.

I love teaching and working with children and embrace the challenge of ensuring that every child in my care reaches their potential. I understand that one size doesn’t fit all and the way I work with children reflects this. I am passionate about the use of digital technologies and the world that it opens.  

I am excited about the opportunity to teach at Shotover Primary. I look forward to getting to know your whānau.

Nga mihi,


Vera Stewart

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I am so excited to be part of the Shotover team and working in a vibrant,
collaborative environment. I was born and bred in Queenstown and moved to
Dunedin to train as a Teacher. I started my Teaching career at Arrowtown
Preschool before heading on my OE to London to teach and nanny. After
returning from the UK my husband and I moved back to Queenstown where I
taught for a number of years back at Arrowtown Preschool until I had my two
boys who now attend Shotover Primary School.

Family life is very important to me and so I enjoy spending as much time as I
can exploring the outdoors, ski fields and lakes in my spare time.
As a teacher, I have a strong passion for play based learning and enjoy creating
a stimulating and nurturing environment for children to be involved and learn

I look forward to meeting you all and contributing to what is a fantastic
community and Shotover Primary.

Jill Hodgson | Teaming Leader | Literacy Leader

Jill Hodgson | Literacy Leader

Before coming to Shotover Primary, Jill held the position of Classroom Teacher/Literacy Leader at Otautau School for seven years. She previously taught at a variety of schools in Southland and Canterbury.

In teaching and learning Jill has found her purpose. She is passionate about education and is an advocate for everyone to be the best they can. In teaching and in leadership she endeavours to foster an environment that values the individual strengths and personalities of all.

She is excited to be part of the Shotover team and enjoys her new role with the challenges that it brings.

Outside of school she is an avid gardener. She enjoys feeding friends and family, spending time in our great outdoors, and reading for enjoyment and to extend her knowledge.

Emma Watts | DATS Mentor


Kia Ora! Ko Emma Watts tōrku ingoa.

I am the Shotover Primary School DATS Leader (Design, Arts, Technology & Science). 

I believe that learning is our core business and that everyone is capable of learning. I am passionate about our community developing growth mindsets to cultivate curiosity, inspire passion and foster reflective thinking.

DATS is a fantastic way to grow future innovators and inventors. Through DATS we can foster children's creative problem solving and teamwork skills. It provides opportunities to learn by thinking with our hands, working with readily available materials, getting our hands ‘dirty’, and failing and bouncing back from that failure. It's a great opportunity for our children to practice climbing into and out of the ‘learning pit’, to foster ‘grit’ and develop a growth mindset within real-life and fun contexts. Embracing DATS within our school fosters future-focused learning.

I am passionate about developing our children’s confidence and ability to talk about their learning so that they can identify where they are at, where they are going and how they will get there, thus enabling our children to see themselves as the key drivers of their own learning. I find it incredibly rewarding to work alongside all akonga and to be part of their journey growing into confident, connected and actively involved life-long learners.

In my spare time I can be found outdoors tramping, exploring, snowboarding, kayaking or indoors reading, tinkering and creating. 


I began my teaching career in Ireland before leaving home to seek new experiences and adventures around the world. My travels took me to Queenstown, where I have lived for eight years and which I now call my home away from home. I am very proud of my Irish heritage and have a huge family at home. When I am not working I love to take advantage of the wealth of adventure that Queenstown offers by snowboarding, hiking and biking.


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I am so excited to be part of the amazing journey that is Shotover Primary School. I have two children at the school.

I love the collaborative environment we learn in and as a relative newcomer to teaching I believe that this innovative learning space will enable me to bring out the best in our wonderful children.

My passions include maths, science and technology, and I’m curious about anything to do with learning.

Your child may have told you stories about the “one-legged teacher” and these are true! I had my leg amputated below the knee in 2004 after a random blood clot. This in no way effects what I can do, as I love to ski, swim, bike and take advantage of all the other amazing opportunities we have for getting out and about by living here.