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 whaanau – and your beliefs, culture and expectations will always be valued by our team. We look forward to meeting you.

  • Vicky Brandso - Step Ahead

    Vicky Brandso


    Vicky Brandso  has worked in ECE for nearly 10 years and has a bachelor of teaching (ECE) which was completed at Te Rito Maioha. Vicky has a strong passion for working alongside Whānau and building relationships, where together they can give your child the best outcome within their Early Childhood journey.

    Vicky is very passionate about empowering the future generation, learning and laughing alongside them.
    Her husband Josh and her have two daughters Katie who is at primary school and Maddy will be joining the Step Ahead whānau.

    When Vicky is not teaching, you will find her playing hockey, at the beach and out walking/bike riding with her girls.

  • Erin Petersen - Step Ahead

    Erin Petersen


    Maternity Leave. Erin will be back with the team in January 2025.


    Erin comes to us with over 10 years’ experience in early childhood education. She graduated in 2011 with a Bachelor of Education – Primary, but upon completion discovered her true passion for the early years and has never looked back. Erin spent roughly 8 years teaching 3-5 year olds before making the change to an infant/toddler centre in 2018. In 2020 Erin completed a Graduate Diploma in Early Childhood before taking a short break in 2021 to welcome her first child.

    Erin is super excited to be joining the Step Ahead team, hoping all her years of knowledge and experience can help create a true home away from home feel, by building strong quality relationships with tamariki and their whaanau. She is a natural nurturer, with calm and caring qualities.

    With a young child taking up most of her time now, when able Erin enjoys walks and coffee dates with friends, traveling and small trips, always has some creative project on the go and quality family time.

  • Vanetta Ras - Step Ahead

    Vanetta Ras


    Vanetta started working in early years education in Auckland in 1998. Finding a passion for seeing young children grow and learn, she decided to become an early childhood teacher. Vanetta graduated in 2002 with a Diploma in Teaching Early Childhood Education. Once she graduated, she left for the United Kingdom, where she spent 3 months backpacking around Europe before settling in London where she taught in a Nursery class while completing her BA (Hons) in Child and Youth Studies.

    Returning to New Zealand in 2016, she settled in Whangarei and worked in both an infant and toddler centre and an over 2’s centre. During 2020/21 Vanetta went on to complete her Teacher Education Refresher, ensuring she was up to date with current policies and practices in teaching in Aotearoa,

    Having 2 boys has kept her quite busy. They enjoy camping every summer and time at the beach. Vanetta enjoys spending time with friends, going to a cafe or for a walk, but is also happy sitting down and enjoying a good book.

  • Kes Fisher-Finlayson - Step Ahead

    Kes Fisher-Finlayson


    Kes graduated in 2022 with a Bachelor of Teaching specialising in Early Childhood Education from the University of Waikato. She is passionate about advocating for the importance of quality early childhood education and nurturing this to make a positive impact within our community.

    Kes is a compassionate, nurturing, respectful, and playful kaiako who enjoys inspiring children’s sense of wonder, creativity, and passion for learning. A key aspect of her teaching philosophy is the concept of ako, which means positioning everyone as teachers and learners. In this way, she is excited to teach and learn with and from the Step Ahead tamariki, whānau, kaiako, and community.

    In her spare time, Kes enjoys spending time with her husband and cat, being creative with
    handcrafts such as sewing and embroidery, gardening, reading, and dancing.

  • Heidi Hammann


    Heidi has joined the Step Ahead team covering Erin’s Maternity cover.


    Heidi was born in North Queensland, Australia before spending most of her childhood in the small northern community of Kaeo. She has lived in Whangarei since the end of her high school years and has been teaching in Early Childhood for over 10 years (Qualified in 2012).

    Heidi is passionate about inquiry learning – allowing the pondering thoughts and questions of the Tamariki to lead our investigations and rich dialogue within our community of learners. Heidi loves to nurture the ideas of the Tamariki, supporting them to bring them to life. “What better way to empower our Tamariki, knowing that they are heard, valued and have a place here!”

    Heidi has two young boys with her partner Justin who she loves taking to the beach and exploring everything the beautiful North has to offer!