We have an amazing team here at Russell Street school who are 100% committed to making every learner reach their potential! Meet them all below.


Teaching Staff


B Ed / Dip. Education Studies

Kia ora, I am Samantha Leighton. I have been part of the Russell Street School whānau for 3 years. A bit about me – I live with my husband Drew, my daughter Jaida and my two dogs, Bella and Loki. I have a love of all animals and try to do my part in showing kawenga as much as I can. I have been teaching since 2012 and am passionate about making a difference in children’s learning. I love learning alongside the children, whānau and teachers. I feel strongly about integrating real life contexts into our learning to make it the most meaningful and relevant for the children. This year, I’m teaching year 3/4 children. A word that really resonates with me this year is ‘ubuntu’ which is literally translated as ‘humanity towards others’ and loosely translated to ‘I am because we are.’ I can’t wait to unpack this concept with my class through the lens of our RSS values this year.

Email Samantha



Tēnā koutou katoa. I’m Kelly and I have a crazy love for teaching! Every morning I can’t wait to see our tamariki. I teach our youngest learners in Waka Huia- they are my treasures. Holding positive relationships full of trust, care, high expectations, and communication is the key to my success in teaching. I have been teaching in the Primary Sector since 2010 and have taught from Year 0-7. Prior to this I taught in Early Childhood Centres. I inspire to provide children and whānau with the smoothest transition from their Early Childhood sector to school. I am passionate about setting our learners up for the best start possible, developing their sense of belonging, confidence, happiness, and ability to pursue their inquiries and interests. I love meeting new people and welcome everyone to join in with our learning.

Email Kelly


B.Ed. / ACET

Tēnā koutou.

Ko Pukeatua te maunga.
Ko Waikato te awa.
Ko Arapuni te roto.
Ko Sir George Seymour te waka.
Ko Ngāti Kōtimana me Ngāti Ingarihi ngā iwi.
Ko Walker tōku hapū.
Ko Te Kupenga o te Matauranga te marae.
Ko Ken Walker rāua ko Diane Dennis ōku mātua.
Ko Brent Stephenson tāku hoa tāne.
Ko Gordon Stephenson tāku tama.
Ko Brenda Stephenson tōku ingoa.

I starting teaching in 2004 and have taught years 1-6. I have always loved teaching and since becoming a mum, I have a new appreciation of how special our jobs are as teachers. I am passionate about students being curious about their world. I enjoy helping students to develop their self-belief and wairua. With this confidence to take risks, students are able to give new learning a go. He iti te hau marangai, E tū te Pāhokahoka. Just like a rainbow after the storm, success follows failure. Nō reira, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā tātou katoa.


B.Ed. / Dip. Tchg / Reading Recovery Trained

Kia Ora koutou. My name is Ebony Maaka and you can find me learning alongside the seniors in Room 6 (sharing with Bianca) and Kaikomako collaborating with John and Nic in the mornings. In the middle block I will be in Poutokomanawa with the kids from Te Pakoko and Te Korowai in collaboration with Eileen. I am passionate about creating learning environments that encourage children to be confident and courageous learners with a ‘can do’ attitude. Offering opportunities for children to explore their interests and a love for learning while developing positive social skills and self management is what I aim for in my teaching and learning space. Come in and join us anytime.

Email Ebony

B.Ed. / Dip. Tchg / Reading Recovery Trained
Hi, I’m Kerri and I’m apart of the junior school in room 8. I am looking forward to learning with a fabulous bunch of year 2/3 students as we explore agency; making choices to drive our own learning.  I love working in the RSS community where we all work together, supporting and encouraging each other to learn, grow and become better citizens. Feel free to come and take a look at the learning happening in our class and take a look on our class blog.

Email Kerri

Ko Mangere te maunga,
Ko Manukau te awa,
Ko ‘Boeing 747’ te waka rererangi,
Ko Tan te whānau,
Ko Fulian tōku tipuna,
Ko Ping raua ko Yary ōku mātua,
Ko Michael taku tāne,
Ko Benjamin rātou ko Isabelle, ko Lucas aku tamariki,
Ko Eileen taku ignoa.
I joined the Russell Street whānau in 2015 and upon my very first interaction at the school, I knew this was a place I would come to love. I have 2 children who attend RSS, one in year 6 and the other in year 4. I have a passion for Te Ao Māori and also about encouraging the children to explore and appreciate the diversity of culture we are surrounded by. Throughout my teaching career, starting in 2007, one of my favourite parts of ‘the job’ is that I get the opportunity to get to know these precious tamariki and guide them into fulfilling their potential – not only in their learning but also in their social and emotional lives as well. I am in my third year of teaching in Poutokomanawa and thoroughly enjoy working alongside Rosie, Brenda and Whaea Metarina. Feel free to come and have a kōrero, the door is always open!

Email Eileen


B.A. / Dip.Tchg / Reading Recovery Trained

Hi, I am Robin Baker and I teach with Sandi Baldwin in Room 3.  Sandi and I have been job sharing at Russell Street School for many years, primarily at the New Entrant level. My three children have attended this school. Teaching literacy is my passion and I particularly enjoy helping children to express themselves through story writing. I teach the literacy programme between 9 am and 11.50 am everyday. This year we are teaching a class of Year 1/2 learners.

Email Robin


B.A. / Dip.Tchg

I teach Year 1/2, job sharing with Robin Baker. I also teach English as a second language. I am a mother of three children and grandmother of two. My children all went to Russell Street School. I like to cycle, walk, read and I am learning Te Reo at Te Wananga o Aotearoa. Having taught at this school for 20 years I have seen many changes including the introduction of ICT, agency and the emphasis on how to learn, rather than just acquiring knowledge. I believe every child is gifted in some way and my aim is to develop self confidence in my students.

Email Sandi

B.B.S. / Dip.Tchg / Reading Recovery Trained.
Kia Ora, I am Belinda Harris and I have the pleasure of working alongside the Year 3 learners in Room 3 or Kahukura. I was lucky to start my journey at RSS last year teaching in Poutokomanawa. My teaching career began in 1995 at Milson School and then Manchester School in Feilding from 2010. My husband Leonard and I have 3 sons; Michael 20, Andrew 18 and William 15. Being a Mum and teacher there is simply no greater reward than working from your heart. Having taught a number of children over the years, I would like to believe they have a part of me inside them….the part that gave them hope and love and taught them to believe in themselves.

Hi, I am John Smith and this year, my seventh as a teacher, I teach Year 4-6 in Room 7.  Previously, I spent 20 years with Fonterra as a scientist and manager. Prior to that I lived in Canada – first in Edmonton and then in Montreal – studying chemistry.  I enjoy watching and participating in sport and try to spend time every day either running or swimming. Together with my family – my incredible wife, Philippa, and my four beautiful daughters (all ex-Russell Streeters) – I aim to one day complete all of the Great Walks in New Zealand.  I love to read and have a particular interest in history and current events. Perhaps not surprisingly, I also have a passion for maths, and science and enjoy sharing these passions in the classroom. At times I even turn my hand to a little acting! Mwah ha ha ha ha.


Email John


B.A. / Grad Dip.Tchg / PSTF Alumnus Award 2012 / ACET 2014

Hi, I’m Joy Kitt. My class and I learn to notice things in detail. Becoming accomplished explorers and explainers of the events and artefacts we see and learn about gives us the opportunity to develop our science skills, gives us rich literacy experiences and opens our eyes to the everyday wonders in the world around us. We are also keen to discover ourselves and what kind of learners we are. Once we know that the sky is the limit.

Email Joy


B.A. / GradDipTchg(ECE) / MTchgLn(Primary)

Ko Tararua te maunga
Ko Hokio te awa
Ko Kurahaupō te waka
Ko Kohuturoa me Kawiu ngā marae
Ko Ngāti Hine, Ngāti Pariri me Ngāti Tamarangi ngā hapū
Ko Muaūpoko me Ngāti Apa ngā iwi
Ko Lucy Marshall ahau

Tēnā koutou e te whānau. I spent my primary school years at this amazing kura and feel so lucky to now be back as a kaiako (teacher). I started my career in Early Childhood Education where I developed a love of building relationships with all tamariki and their whānau. I’m also passionate about Te Ao Māori, pursuing children’s interests, our beautiful RSS values, and having fun while we learn! This year you will find me working alongside the amazing tamariki in Pounamu (Room 8). I’m always up for a kōrero so feel free to visit our class for a chat. Ko te ahurei o te tamaiti arahia o tātou mahi – Let the uniqueness of the child guide our work.

Email Lucy


Dip.Tchg (Primary); B.Ed

Kia Ora! 

I am Carolyn. I have been fortunate to be a part of this wonderful community since 2008. Each year I wait in the wings until we are ready for our final new-entrant class to open. Journeying with the five-year-olds and their families as they begin their schooling is a joy and a privilege. I also have the opportunity to spend time with many other students at RSS, as I relieve in the school and lead an annual art extension project while I wait for my class to open. One of my favourite parts of school life is our buddy-class system; the children here really look out for one another. My teaching passions are the arts and literacy and I am currently immersing myself in researching the benefits of play-based learning. Learning is lifelong, after all. I look forward to meeting you!

Email Carolyn


B.Ed / Dip.Teaching

I am extremely privileged to be back teaching again full-time at RSS. I zipped off for a while to have my own lovely children and now love being part of the team again here. I  am thoroughly enjoying teaching an energetic, talented group of Year 1 children. Their passion for learning never ceases to amaze me – they make my day every day with their enthusiasm and willingness to learn. I have strengths across the curriculum with a strong focus on literacy, numeracy, and health and well-being. Feel welcome any time to come and visit, pop in, view and comment on our class blog or e-mail.

I am currently acting as the Transition to School Coordinator.

Email Nicole


Tammy teaches in Room 7 with a class of Year 4/5/6 learners.

Email Tammy


Karen teaches in Room 2 with our newest 5 year olds.

Email Karen



Victoria teaches for one and a half days each week in Waka Huia.

Email Victoria


B.A / Dip. Tchg / M.Ed / PhD / ATCL

I have just begun teaching classroom music at Russell Street School (my own children went to RSS and it’s our neighbourhood school).  I’m really enjoying meeting and getting to know all the children, and I’m impressed by the rich experiences they have already had in music.  I love seeing what they can do and their enthusiasm for new experiences.  I believe that music is for everybody and my aim is to build children’s confidence to participate in music-making at school and out in the world.

Email Jenny


B.Tchg/Lng / Post Grad Dip. Ed (Māori Education)

Ko Hikurangi te maunga, Ko Waiapu te awa, Ko Ngāti Porou te iwi, Ko Rosie taku ingoa, Tēnā koutou katoa. I have loved teaching at Russell Street School for several years and I am the Assistant Principal. I am currently teaching Yr 5/6 in Poutokomanawa (Māori enhancement class) alongside Eileen who is teaching Yr 3/4 and Brenda who is teaching Yr 1/2. I am passionate about Te Reo Maori me ōna tikanga, Kapa Haka, RSS values, high expectations, being creative, digital learning, thinking skills and instilling self-belief in the akonga I am teaching. I place an emphasis on the essence and importance of teamwork – tuakana/teina. This promotes a culture of learning, a culture of community – where individuals contribute their strengths for the benefit of us all. He aha te mea nui o te ao. He tangata, he tangata, he tangata. Nā reira, piki mai, kake mai ki te awhi, me te manaaki i ngā tamariki o ‘Poutokomanawa’.

Email Rosie


Deputy Principal

B.Ed. Dip.Tchg / ACET Award 2013

Kia ora, I am Mel Hagan.  I have had various teaching roles in the region since 1999. I was a beginning teacher at Russell Street School in 2001 and left in 2003. It is great to be back among such a dynamic teaching staff and in such a vibrant learning community. I am super excited to be continuing on in my teaching career as Associate Principal. I have leadership responsibilities such as leading the highly skilled and dedicated Teaching Assistant Team, LACO (co-ordinating learning support across the school, including Gifted and Talented) and running the Maths Support Teacher role.   It is a joy to be able to share my passion for all areas of learning but especially to share my teaching strengths such as literacy, numeracy, inquiry processes, learning processes, thinking skills and thinking tools.

Email Mel


Deputy Principal


I clearly know what a great place Russell Street School is as I worked here from 2008-2010 and then went and taught in Dubai for 3 years before rejoining the team in 2014. I am lucky to be the Deputy Principal now because we’ve got the best staff, kids and parents in New Zealand! I love that I get a chance to work with all the learners in our kura, instead of just those in my own class! This year, I am our MST (Maths Specialist Teacher) and teach a whole bunch of awesome mathematicians. I have a son named Dallas who is a member of the Poutokomanawa Whānau here at school. I’m relatively easy to find and you’ll probably hear me before you see me. I’m hugely passionate about the NBA (Phoenix Suns fan for life) so if you are too, come and find me and we’ll have a yarn…

Email Troy


B.Ed. / Dip. Tchg

Kia ora koutou

My name is Bianca Caske and I spent the first 16 of my teaching career in Wellington where I grew up. I was fortunate to relieve and RSS when my family and I first moved to Palmerston North and grab the opportunity to make that a more permanent placement. I have been lucky enough to teach a wide range of year groups within primary schools and I love each one for their own special phase in that child’s stage of learning. RSS is rich in our Māori culture and I love learning and developing this knowledge further alongside our tamariki. This year I have the exciting opportunity to teach a class of year 4, 5 and 6 students. I will encourage them to see that learning does not just happen in the classroom.

Email Bianca



M. Ed / PG Dip Ed / B.Ed  / Dip. Tchg

Tēnā koutou katoa. I am honoured to be the principal at Russell Street. The school has a special place in my educational career; I started teaching here 20 years ago as a beginning teacher, both my wife Lynley and I taught here together, and I returned here as DP after teaching overseas. To come back as the principal has always been an aspiration of mine and now that goal has become a reality. I am committed to and exited by the challenge that lies ahead building on the great reputation that the school continues to have. I am always interested in your thoughts on how we can make Russell St an even better place for our learners, please do not hesitate to get in touch to share your thoughts. Ngā mihi nui.

Email Nick

Support Staff

AgOffice A-Team


Email the Office

RachelleOffice A-Team


Email the Office



B.Ed, Dip.Tchg

I have the amazing job of connecting the children, staff and families here at RSS with books! With over 8000 books in the Jean Wilkinson Library Hub we are sure to have a book for everyone. Most days I can be found in the Library before and after school and everyone is welcome to come in and browse our collection. Come and talk to me about what you would like to read! You can also visit our library online at http://nz.accessit.online/RSSS or email me.

HelenTeaching Assistant
HannahTeaching Assistant
LorraineTeaching Assistant


Teachers’ Aide Certificate

Email Lorraine

MetarinaTeaching Assistant


Email Metarina

AmberTeaching Assistant


Email Amber

LisaTeaching Assistant


Email Lisa

SandyTeaching Assistant


Teachers’ Aide Certificate

Email Sandy

NickyTeaching Assistant


Email Nicky