Our Team

Our incredible team of teachers is passionate, dedicated, experienced and most of all caring.

Our unique and close-knit environment supports strong relationships between teachers and families – we are all part of the Step Ahead whanau – and your beliefs, culture and expectations will always be valued by our team. We look forward to meeting you.

  • Gowri Paary - Step Ahead

    Gowri Paary


    Gowri changed career direction in 2012 from a scientist to an educator. She made this decision because she found joy in giving knowledge and working with young minds.

    Gowri completed a Graduate Diploma in Education after spending a year in Australia on a working holiday. She then crossed the ditch and completed a Master in Education, specialising in global studies in education at the University of Waikato in 2017.

    Her passion for early childhood education stems from the love of play-based learning and engaging with young, curious minds.

    She is excited to bring creativity, laughter, music and joy to the children at Step Ahead.

    Gowri is fluent in three languages: English, Bahasa Malaysia and Tamil. She is an avid theatre actor, kids yoga instructor, loves to sew and play music. She has even authored two children books!

    She lives in Whangarei with her husband, two young children and her puppy who all keep her very happy!

  • Dawn Haora - Step Ahead

    Dawn Haora


    Dawn has been with Step Ahead since we opened in 2017 and wanted to be a part of a beautiful learning environment where children are respected and considered to be capable young people.

    Her love and respect for not only her own children and grandchildren, but also that of others, coupled with the right and necessity for children to be allowed to play inspired Dawn to study and obtain her degree in Early Childhood Education.  Her own love of nature transpires to her teaching practice where Dawn actively advocates for children to explore outside, encouraging that sense of wonder and connection to the natural world, ensuring the connection is not lost.

  • Lena Newport - Step Ahead

    Lena Newport


    Lena comes to us with a background in active movement holding a Bachelor of Sport and Recreation as well as a Graduate Diploma of Teaching Early Childhood. She also currently teaches Jazz and Tap dance so some of you may know her through her dance classes for preschoolers. She believes that every child is unique and is committed to supporting tamariki to develop their confidence to discover who they are and how to make sense of our big world. She is a kind and caring teacher who is calm and understanding.

    She is fluent in Swiss German and loves the outdoors, gardening, sailing, dancing and baking.

  • Hilary Kirner - Step Ahead

    Hilary Kirner


    Hilary has an absolute passion for the outdoors and currently runs Safe Outdoors NZ who run an outdoor classroom programme.
    She holds a Bachelor of Early Childhood Education and enjoys extending her knowledge of Te Ao Maori within her personal and professional life. She builds authentic relationships by being respectful, empathetic and genuine when interacting with tamariki and their whanau. She has an easy going nature which allows people to feel comfortable.

    She also enjoys up-cycling, sustainable living and exploring with many arts and crafts.

  • Cherie Coster - Step Ahead

    Cherie Coster

    Relieving Teacher

    Cherie is a valued member of our teaching team and has been relieving for us all of this year. She comes with a natural approach to children which is caring and attentive. Being a mother herself and very involved with the local school, she understands the sometimes hectic life of a family.