Staff Directory

Our staff are a committed group of Christian professionals. Staff can be emailed at: [firstname] or [firstname].[lastname]

Senior Leadership

Acting Principal

Chris Mitchell

There are not many schools in New Zealand where a person feels privileged to teach, but Cornerstone Christian School is definitely one of those. It’s a great place with great staff collegiality and fantastic kids and at Cornerstone a teaching job becomes a full time Christian Ministry! Teaching is my passion, but the things that really get me going are Maths, Science, the Arts, taking students on education experiences in the outdoors and integrating ICT into learning. I have been teaching for 15 years, all in the Manawatu region. Five of those years were as Teaching Principal at Awahou School in the Pohangina Valley, and I have been teaching at Cornerstone Christian School since 2008. In 2016, I was appointed to the position of Deputy Principal and I now have the awesome job of guiding the teaching and learning in the Primary School and helping teachers become even better than they are already.

Deputy Principal

James Rose

Tēnā koutou.

Thank you everyone for the wonderful welcome I have received starting at Cornerstone this year. I have been impressed by the many supportive staff, parents and students that have popped in for a chat or a handshake to express their greetings.

In coming to Cornerstone, I join the rest of my family here. Mrs Rose of course is the Team Leader in Year 7/8, and Harrison and Ashton have been attending Cornerstone since they started school.

From my point of view, it is a real joy to serve in the same school my family is part of. As such, in many ways, I am no stranger to the school. Over the years, it has been wonderful to stand on the sidelines of Hockey fields with other Cornerstone parents willing and cheering our sons and daughters on. Braving the fantastic winter weather that we enjoy here in Palmerston North and celebrating both the wins, and the character-building losses along the way.

I really enjoyed the junior prizegiving last year and seeing the numerous ways our students have “stepped-up” to serve and give expression to our school values.

I believe God created each of us in his image, yet unique, with our own talents, gifts, and personalities. Diversity is our asset in creation, we can’t all be feet or hands for example. Encouraging each person to follow Christ and use their gifts and talents as they do so will ensure that collectively we have the best chance to leave behind a “fruit that remains”.

To me, respect is the element that brings it all together, and remembering that each of us have
been created in the image of God.

Jesus commands each of us to ‘love thy God and love thy neighbour’. As we do so, we learn to receive – and give – forgiveness, which in turn makes a path for healing and restoration.

I come to Cornerstone from St Peter’s College where I served as the Deputy Principal – Head of Senior School and Curriculum. I have spent almost my entire career in Christian education and feel very blessed to continue that journey here at Cornerstone.

Thank you again for your warm welcome, and may God bless each of you in your journey with Christ.

Secondary Leadership – Yr 7-13

Director of Course Lab, Principal's Nominee (NZQA)

Natasha Casey

I have been teaching since 2002 and at have been at Cornerstone since 2017. The move to this school has opened up many opportunities for me to learn and grow in my craft of teaching but also to grow my leadership skills. 

As Director of course Lab, I am passionate about supporting teachers; helping them to grow and improve in their teaching practice at their pace. Our teachers are the experts at the coal face and need to feel as if they have room to experiment, trial, and be brave in seeking the best pathways for their students to learning. This is what we do so well here at Cornerstone. 

As Principal’s Nominee, I oversee the smooth running of NCEA in the school to ensure we stay current and professional in all our assessment practices.

It is a great pleasure to use my skills and abilities to extend God’s kingdom in Palmerston North.

Head of Science

Hayden Hewitt

I joined the Cornerstone Christian School community at the beginning of 2017. Prior to this I have taught Science and Biology for ten years, including a year teaching in the UK. Before teaching, I worked for as number of years as a Science Technician at Massey University and within the dairy industry.

I am passionate about Science, and its relevance to all of us in our everyday lives. I love the way that we can see the Glory of God displayed in everything from the complexity of a single cell, through to the beauty and vastness of space.

I am inspired by the idea that the mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled. In my teaching, I hope to stoke the fires of interest and curiosity about the amazing world around us. I love being part of an enthusiastic and committed staff here at Cornerstone Christian School and belonging to the wider school community.

I enjoy spending time with my wife and children, and cooking and eating food – especially dishes from other countries. I love being outdoors in God’s good creation, and I’m a keen deer stalker and fisherman.

Director of Life Lab

Erika Snedden

I joined the Cornerstone Community in 2015 to establish and develop the Secondary Art Department. Since 2017 I have been the Director of Life Lab – responsible for facilitating Christian discipleship, life direction and academic mentoring programmes for the secondary students. I have also had the privilege of establishing and leading our Duke of Edinburgh’s Hillary Award Scheme.

Within New Zealand and overseas I have had experience as a Secondary Art and Art History teacher and Head of Department. 

As an A/r/tographer – artist, researcher and teacher, I have a passion to support and development research inquiry within learning communities.

At the core of my leadership style, practice and faith is a belief in allowing and empowering others to lead.

Whakapono (Y7-8) Team Leader

Tarryn Rose

My name is Tarryn Rose and my family consists of my husband James (who is also a teacher), our two boys and our dog Jack. Palmerston North is my home city, but I have also lived in Whanganui, Africa and the

I began teaching almost 20 years ago after graduating from Massey University in Palmerston North. My degree was in Education and my major was in P.E. I enjoy encouraging the students with the idea we focused on in Term 4 2015: “Fit Body, Healthy Mind, Honours God”. 2016 is my second year at Cornerstone and I look forward to all that it holds for the Whakapono Team. The Year 7/8s have a fabulous year ahead, with some of the highlights being: sharing and hearing God’s word in our team assemblies, camp at Vertical Horizon, sports events, celebrations, classes with specialist teachers here at Cornerstone.

Primary Leadership – Yr 0-6

Aroha (Y1-2) Team Leader, Director of Teaching and Learning

Katrina Bannister

I believe that education is simply all about learning and I love my role in supporting children on their personal learning journey.

I am thrilled to be leading Aroha team and starting the second New Entrant class. I have taught Y0-9 in my many years of teaching and am very experienced in teaching at New Entrant/Y1 level. My experience teaching the
British foundation stage (Pre-school) has enabled me to have a deep understanding of early learning and how important transition is to school.

I have three young children of my own; my two eldest born in Oman. We returned to New Zealand after seven years teaching abroad in International Schools around the Middle East, in Israel, Jordan and Oman, where I taught a mix of the National British Curriculum and the International Primary Curriculum. My time abroad has enabled me to share many cultural experiences with our students, bringing more depth to biblical stories and an awareness of our evergrowing international communities.

I am also well-grounded in the New Zealand Curriculum, having started my teaching career many years ago in my hometown of Gisborne and having trained in Reading Recovery and ESOL.

It is a real blessing to teach at Cornerstone, surrounded by great kids, great staff and great learning whilst serving and growing in God together.

Manahau (Y3-4) Team Leader

Jane Sutherland

I joined the staff at Cornerstone in 2008 and currently teach one of the wonderful Year 3 classes. I enjoy teaching all curriculum subjects and specialised in music and technology at Teacher’s College. I am the team leader for Manahau (Joy) team which consists of the Year 3 and 4 classes at the school. I have also been privileged to be the staff trustee on the Board of Trustees for two terms of office. 

Joy is a heart attitude we want the children to develop. The age of the children in our team is perfect for encouraging an enjoyment of learning. We want them to confidently take ‘ownership’ of their learning and celebrate their progress as they see it unfolding. Even mistakes need to be seen as positive opportunities to grow rather than failures to be upset about. Each child is a special gift and we seek to work with parents to help each child reach their full potential in God.

Tumanako (Y5-6) Team Leader

David Henderson

I have been teaching at Cornerstone since 2009 and the time certainly has flown. I want the children in my class to learn about the world God created and deepen their understanding of Him. I enjoy teaching all areas of the curriculum and especially enjoy teaching sports, learning in the school garden and using computers to assist with learning.

I have three young children and love the fact that they can attend Cornerstone.

Teachers – Wellbeing and Learning Support

Guidance Counsellor

Delwyn Crowther


I’m the guidance counsellor.

SENCO/Special Education Needs Co-ordinator

Clare Long

I’m a special education teacher.

Learning Support, Careers Advisor

Carl McIntyre

I began teaching at Cornerstone Christian School in 2014, having previously spent nine wonderful years teaching English, Social Studies, Religious Studies, Health and History at St. Peter’s College. I feel immensely blessed to serve the Cornerstone community in the teaching and guiding of our first secondary classes.

I’m really enjoying the challenge of establishing our secondary curriculum in the areas of Social Studies and History. I’m also passionate about ensuring students are as happy and successful in their learning as possible – and about equipping them with the life skills they need to spread that happiness and success into the world around them.

I look forward to Cornerstone continuing its expansion through secondary school, along with the outpouring of God’s grace that will enable us to excel even further!

Special Education Teacher

Mary Nelmes

Teachers – Yr 7-13

Head of Mathematics

Ian Groube

Kia ora koutou,
Before Cornerstone, I taught Mathematics for the past ten years at Feilding High School. I have also taught at Totara College in Dannevirke. I have always been passionate about Mathematics and I love teaching our young people how to problem solve using math skills. I am a firm believer that hard work is far more rewarding than luck.

I was a student Te Aute College, and from there I joined the Navy. I was the ship’s logistics manager, so numbers have always been a part of me. I am married to Heidi and we have three children: Courtney, Campbell and Devon.

I am looking forward to being part of the school’s growth, and to what God has in store for me. I also look forward to the different aspects Cornerstone Christian School will bring into my life and how my experiences and skills will be utilised to enhance the school.

Head of Technologies

Gareth Bell

Kia ora Koutou

I have the privilege and joy of teaching Music and Computing at Cornerstone. In the past I have taught at Freyberg High School and Limapela School in Zambia. I am proud to say I studied teaching at Bethlehem Tertiary Institute, where I enjoyed examining concepts like the difference between a teacher who is a Christian and a Christian Teacher.

I became a teacher because I’m passionate about young people. I love helping my students find their own passions and abilities, as well as develop character. I believe the teacher-student relationship is a key foundation for learning, and strive to model the concepts I teach.

I live with my wife and cat. One likes to send me to school with baking in my bag, the other with cat hair on my clothes. I enjoy walks with my wife, playing a bit of music and cycling.

Gareth Bell

Head of PE and Health

Louis Jayasuriya

Kia ora,

I have been teaching PE and Health for 10 years, both in New Zealand and in the United Kingdom. 

I live in Palmerston North with my wife Emma and son Noah. I am excited about joining Cornerstone Christian School, and the opportunity to be part of a growing school. I am passionate about all things sport, I enjoying playing sport, coaching sports teams and sharing my passion with my students. 

One of the key themes I promote in my teaching is that we as students and myself as the teacher are in our education journey together as a team, because together we can succeed. The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team – Phil Jackson

Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labour – Ecclesiastes 4:9-10


Dr Bronwyn Boddy

I joined the Cornerstone staff in 2015, after teaching at Queen Elizabeth College since 2009. I am excited to be a part of the growing secondary area of the school in Mathematics and using my skills in the running of the Student Management System, KAMAR. 

My favourite moments in teaching are helping students make the connections to become confident and independent learners. 

Aside from teaching and caring for my two young daughters, I love being a part of church worship teams on Sundays, and also play the flute in a local orchestra and flute/piano for musical theatre shows.

Teacher, IT Lead

Paul Jorgensen

I began teaching at Cornerstone Christian School in 2016. Prior to this, I have gained experience at three other high schools in the Manawatu area and one in Wellington. My teaching areas include Mathematics, Digital Technology/Robotics, Geography, Social Studies and Homeroom.

I have a real passion for teaching and am committed to journeying with the students as they develop their own passions and identity in Christ. I am excited to be teaching Geography, I have both a BSc in this area and a Diploma in Development.

I am also responsible for all things IT at Cornerstone; this provides a satisfying balance to my teaching workload. I count it an absolute privilege to be involved in Christian education and to serve the wider community as the school continues to grow.


Michael Doody

I started teaching itinerant music at Cornerstone in 2016. This is where I caught the contagious Cornerstone bug that led me to start my next teaching chapter. I’m very excited to have the opportunity to teach here. I think Cornerstone is a-one-in-a-million school, and I view being part of its legacy as a blessing.

I am delighted to be passing on my passion for Music, Dance and Drama to the next generation. Performing Arts is a very powerful tool which allows us express our thoughts and feelings in a unique way. I am constantly amazed at what young people are able to do when they commit 100 percent.

Outside of teaching, I reside with my wife, cat and son. Outside of school, I enjoy singing in the Swamp City Big Band, writing songs with JAM, church music and musical theatre productions. With the very little spare time I have, I also love to get involved with anything sport related. What is most important is not how great we are at performing, it’s about the state of our hearts!


Louise Wucherpfennig

Kia ora,

Education is the empowerment of young minds. I feel that teaching is a passion and privilege for me as an educator. I’m very excited to be joining Cornerstone in 2018. I will be joining you from Johannesburg, South Africa where I have taught Accounting, Business Studies and Economics for the past twelve years. This has been both in government and private schooling systems.

Cornerstone feels like a school where I will be able to develop learners holistically and with great enjoyment. I have brought my husband and twins over with me and my twins will be starting their schooling career at Cornerstone in 2018.

I leave you with a quote from Nelson Mandela: “education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”


Anna Fletcher

I am passionate about teaching, especially helping students to develop enjoyment, skills and understanding for the world of Science and Chemistry that God created for us. My role is to help your children learn and grow to be the best person that they can be.

I grew up in Lower Hutt and attended Sacred Heart College before moving to Palmerston North to complete my Science degree majoring in Chemistry and Mathematics. I taught Science and Chemistry at Palmerston North Boys’ High School from 2006 and I started teaching at Cornerstone Christian School in 2018.

My husband and I are blessed to be active parents to three young children. When I find some free time, I enjoy playing football, being outside and reading a good book.


Sarah Sisson

I have been a Science teacher for eight years and I am excited to be joining the teaching team at Cornerstone.

I live in Ashhurst with my husband and two daughters Emily and Annabelle, who will be attending CCS.

I am passionate about helping students observe the world around them and opening their eyes to the miracles of Creation. I am especially interested in developing their critical thinking skills which will guide them through their lives.

“Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: who created these? He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one is missing” (Isaiah 40:26 (NIV))


Naomi Hall

Kia ora!

I love to teach food technology as it combines my passion for nutritious food with my passion for teaching & learning. It’s always a thrill to stand in the kitchen with a group of students and some good ingredients and set about preparing a tasty and healthy meal together.

My husband, Robert, and I work together at Wholegrain Organics café & training kitchen, supporting the young people of Palmerston North. We are very interested in sustainability and health – which leads to innovative and exciting developments in the kitchen. We love seeing young people become animated about creating, testing and discovering, all with the purpose of contributing to a healthier more sustainable future for all.

3 John 1:2 “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers”


Karina Anderson

My family and I moved from the Kapiti Coast to Palmerston North last year because we wanted our girls to attend Cornerstone Christian School. It has been a pleasure to join the school community as a teacher. I enjoy relating to teenagers and consider it a privilege to be able to teach in an environment where Jesus is central to life, learning, faith, community and growth.

One of the main scriptures that energises my teaching is Colossians 2:3,
“In Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”


Christina Havill

I am currently teaching Drama and English part time in the Year 8 classroom and am covering teacher release at various levels.

My husband and I are new to Palmerston North and we are really enjoying our new environment. Our daughter, Samantha, is at this school and we are so excited to have her part of the Cornerstone community too! 

For the last four years we lived in Brunei Darussalam where I taught English (Years 7-10) in the local secondary schools. This was a very rewarding and enriching life experience. Prior to that I taught in the KingsWay Middle School Department in Auckland for seven years. I was a Year Seven Homeroom Teacher in charge of Performing Arts for all the Year 7-9 students. I also taught English, Mathematics and Social Studies.

It is exciting to be back in Christian education and I consider it a privilege to teach from a biblical worldview.

Specialist Teacher

Heslia Swanepoel

My family and I moved to New Zealand from Cape Town in South Africa in 1998. My two children grew up in Auckland and attended the Christian school where I taught. My husband and I relocated to Palmerston North at the end of 2015.

I did relief teaching at Cornerstone School during 2016 and was offered a Year 7 teaching position from the
start of 2017.

I enjoy working with young adolescents.


Nicolene Marx

In December 2018, a two-year process came to a fast forward when my husband received a job offer in Palmy. Six weeks later, our family of three arrived here on our first ever trip abroad!

We are truly blessed to be here doing what we love: inspiring through teaching and coaching.

My teaching career started in 2011 teaching English and Social Science while playing first class cricket. I was fortunate to share my passion for sport through not only co-ordinating sport but also coaching several school netball and cricket teams. For the past 3 and a half months, I have been doing relief teaching mostly at Cornerstone where our four-year-old son attends Preschool.

I believe that God has a plan with where we are, and I am excited for what He has in store for us within Cornerstone and the broader community in His greater plan.

Teachers – Yr 0-8


Francelle Aiken

I am Francelle Aiken, and have the pleasure of transitioning the first class of Year 1 (new entrant) children into school each year. Teaching our new 5 year olds is very exciting. Often they make huge progress in their first year at school and become readers and writers. It is gratifying to see them mature and become more independent in managing themselves as well as their learning. I think I have one of the best levels to teach!



Karen Burrows

It is a privilege to be part of the Aroha team at Cornerstone Christian School.

Teaching is my passion.

I have over fifteen years experience, mainly teaching five and six year old children. Seeing curious, engaged children with a passion for learning excites me and I want to be part of their amazing learning adventure. I feel honoured to be able to share the love of God and help nurture their God given gifts. I am looking forward to the exiting adventures ahead.

Release Teacher

Julia Cameron

My name is Julia Cameron and I am the release teacher for many of the classes from Years 1-6.

I am enjoying getting back into the classroom after taking time out from teaching while our boys were little.

I am also enjoying getting to know all of the students and becoming part of the Cornerstone whanau.

Release Teacher

Vicki Campbell

I joined the staff at Cornerstone Christian School in 2016, having spent the previous 4 years at Cornerstone Christian Preschool. I feel blessed to have started my teaching career at the preschool and, as my early years degree gives me the flexibility to teach in either sector, the transition to school has come with minimal fuss.

What I love about my role is that in the earlier part of the year I work part-time as a release and relief teacher which often sees me teaching children I have
previously taught either at preschool or in A2+. It is such a thrill seeing how far they have come and watch them maturing both in their academic prowess as
well as in their faith of God. Then, as the year progresses, I open the overflow new entrant classroom, usually around term 3 of each year, and the corner class
room between A2 and A3 becomes A2+! 

I am passionate about transition to school and how we can best cater for the new children joining our school and I look forward each year to giving my students the best start at Cornerstone!


Kathleen Christensen

Kia ora!

I am excited to be joining Cornerstone Christian School and look forward to being part of the Aroha team.
I have worked at Cornerstone Christian Preschool for the past eight years. I love working with young children; they are like sponges, as they are eager to absorb information, to learn and question, to ponder about life and where they fit into this amazing world that God has created for us to enjoy.

I have a passion for supporting children and their families to transition from early childhood to school and to make that transition as smooth as possible. I have built a good partnership between preschool and school and now, teaching in both sectors, I will endeavour to strengthen that transition process to help ensure that everyone has a great start to their school journey. I will do this by valuing their current knowledge and experiences and incorporating these into more formal learning.

My other passion is working with children who have special needs and supporting them to have a good start to learning.

I believe in working in partnership with their families to ensure that they have every opportunity to succeed in their learning journey. I believe in fostering close relationships with children and their whanau; to be positive, engaging, and to have fun, encouraging and supporting them to become confident and capable learners in mind, body and spirit. Children need to know you care, respect and value them as individuals as we learn and grow together.

Teacher, COL Teacher

Catherine Forrest

I think learning is an absolute adventure. It is all about making discoveries and being able to do things that we could not do before. Learning is not, nor needs to be, a dull endeavour; this is a philosophy I hold to rather strongly. Teaching in the junior team makes the learning journey a lot of fun!

I have been teaching at Cornerstone since 2007, which I consider a privilege and a pleasure. Prior to this, I worked in various roles in the areas of Behaviour and Learning Difficulties. Unlocking learning for those who struggle is a passion of mine. I also enjoy the vast opportunities to extend capable learners and everyone in-between. I adore Literacy, Mathematics, The Arts and anything that involves investigation, such as The Sciences… but what is there not to love about the rest?

We have such a wonderful family community (staff inclusive) here at Cornerstone. I love the home/school/God partnership that grows our young ones. So glad you and I can be a part of it.


Emily Gennills

Kia Ora,

I am excited to be back at Cornerstone and working with the wonderful Aroha team. I attended Cornerstone from Preschool through to Year 8 and it has been a privilege to see the school grow and change. It’s such a blessing to be in a school where God is the centre and His light can be seen in the staff, students and community.

Relationships and working with the community are very important to me as a teacher. I love to see children learning and succeeding to their full potential. I enjoy teaching all areas of the curriculum, especially when I combine them and come up with fun activities that suit the children in my class.

Part of my passionate creed is to not only teach my students subjects, but to teach them life skills and build character. I think Cornerstone’s vision aligns well with this.

Release Teacher

Trish Gunning

I’m a release teacher for each primary class a few days each term.


Christine Little

I have been teaching at Cornerstone Christian School since 2004 and love being a part of this amazing community.
Having spent my first 20 years of teaching in secular schools, I find being able to freely share God’s word and explore His world with the children so exciting.

Teaching is an absolute passion for me and I particularly enjoy working at the year 3 level. I enjoy all learning but my main areas of interest include Literacy, Social Sciences, The Arts, Science and more recently exploring the use of Information Technology. During the past ten years I have also been involved with the school choirs and the Gifted and Talented programme.

I am delighted to have a wonderful bunch of eager learners in D2 and look forward to encouraging each one towards reaching their full potential in God.

Teacher, Head of Sport

Craig McDonald

Kia ora.
My name is Craig McDonald and I reside in C1 as the teacher when I’m not being involved in the organisation of sports and tribes around the school.

I have taught every year group in the primary school, with no firm favourite level, just some interesting memories!

Over half of my teaching experience has been in Christian Schooling. I do my best to integrate our Christian Faith with what we are learning in the classroom about ourselves and the world around us.

As well as my teaching diploma, I have a Bachelor’s degree in Education focusing on Christian Schooling, and a Theology degree. These are helping me to form my ideas about how to achieve a successful Christian Education.


Kylie Salter

Started in 2019


Raeleen Simpson

I have been a part of the Cornerstone Christian School community for a number of years, both as a teacher (full and part-time), and as a parent of five children attending the school and preschool. 

I enjoy teaching across all areas of the school and love being a part of children’s journeys through their primary years. I especially enjoy tapping into each child’s strengths and building on those to further learning. This year I am looking forward to sharing C1 with Mrs Seumanu and an awesome class of

We are blessed at Cornerstone Christian School to be able to provide a Christian education for our children and to be able to place Christ at the centre of all that we do.


Gareth Smith

Kia ora,

My name is Gareth Smith and I am currently teaching Year 4 students in room D2. This is my fourth year of teaching. I completed my first year teaching Years 1-2 at Somerset Crescent School and my second and third years teaching Years 4 and 5 here at Cornerstone.

I am really enthusiastic about teaching my students all subjects and am most enthusiastic about music, ICT and learning languages; as Te Reo Maori is one of New Zealand’s official languages, we try our best in D2 to include it wherever possible.

I am extremely proud and honoured to be part of such a wonderful team here at Cornerstone and I look forward to the continued learning, serving and growing both my students and I will be doing throughout my time here.


Penelope Smith

Started in 2019


Gemma Stewart

It is an absolute privilege and a joy to be back teaching at Cornerstone Christian School, where I began my teaching career in 2003. I am passionate about teaching and ensuring children achieve success in their school endeavours.

I recently returned from three and a half years in Zambia, where I volunteered my teaching skills and experience with a New Zealand Foundation working
along- side teachers and children at two community schools. Following God’s call to Africa was a challenging, courageous and life-changing experience and, although there were many frustrations along the way, it has been tremendously rewarding and enriching.

I hope to inspire the children I teach this year to use their unique God-given gifts and talents to bring practical help and care to others in this world.

As the classroom teacher of Year 4/5 I will endeavour to encourage and challenge my students to give of themselves and get involved with projects and people in their community. Students will learn to value and appreciate each other and develop consideration and support for their peers within the classroom and school environment.

I enjoy teaching all curriculum subjects and specialise particularly in the areas of Literacy (Reading Recovery trained) and Numeracy. I also have recent practical knowledge and experience educating children from homes and families where English is not their first language.

I look forward to working alongside families and inspiring and equipping our children to reach their full potential in God and make a positive difference for His kingdom.


Claire Thompson

I have been teaching part-time at Cornerstone since 2014 and consider it a blessing to have the opportunity to teach at this God-centred school.

I love creating lessons that inspire and encourage children to do their best; and it is hugely satisfying to see children grow in their learning.

This year I am working three days a week in Aroha team. I have three children who attend Cornerstone and it’s great to be a part of this wonderful community as a teacher and as a parent. Cornerstone is a favoured place to be!

Support staff – Learning Support

Teacher Aide

Suseela Batchelor

My name is Suseela.

Palmerston North has been my home for 13 years and, originally, I was from Malaysia. I live with my kiwi husband, two children and a dog named Sparkle.

I have been part of the Cornerstone community since 2013, when my children were enrolled at the school. I have been privileged to work with amazing children and youths previously as a Social worker.

I’m excited to step into my new role as a teacher aide at Cornerstone Christian School


Katharine Bracey

I enjoy books and reading, and I started working in the school library on a voluntary basis in 2008. It was located in A1, the useable collection was tiny, and there were many books awaiting processing. The school had no one with the time and skills to do this. I had learned to catalogue books using the same library software as a volunteer at Freyberg High School. This was great for everyone: Mrs Jane Barker could buy more books knowing they would make it into the library, the students were able to read them and I had a part-time job!

I have seen the library move from A1 to the new Administration building and then on to G2. I look forward to returning the books to The Learning Centre in the Administration building.

In 2014, the foundation of the Secondary collection was a major emphasis for book purchases, together with requested items such as Geronimo Stilton, Lego books, the Brick Bible, Asterix and the Tintin series of graphic novels. My thanks goes to Anathea Jackson who, on a voluntary basis, has been reducing the time lag between books being purchased and arriving on our library shelves through 2014/2015. 

In 2015, the emphasis has been on novels for the Tumanako and Whakapono students; many of these have been requested by staff or students. 

I have been in the school long enough to see individual children’s reading abilities and tastes change as they mature. It is great to see children eager to read and to see their delight when books they suggested make it to the shelves.

Teacher Aide

Helen Dobson

I have had a longstanding relationship with Cornerstone, starting with the preschool which my two sons both attended from 4 years old. While my boys went through the school (up to Year 8 at the time) I was working part time as an Optometrist, which gave me the flexibility to be in classrooms as parent help. I also served on the Board of Trustees for nine years and have watched the wonderful, rapid growth of CCS allowing more children access to Christian education.

In 2015, I was employed by Cornerstone as a teacher aide, assisting Year 4-6 children with literacy.

In 2016, I was given the privilege to serve in the secondary school. I am working alongside supportive staff providing quality education to students, and love to help individuals do the best they are able to.

I am passionate about Cornerstone Christian School and am blessed to be working in an environment that nurtures young people to grow and serve God in ways that will make an impact for Him in this world.

Teacher Aide & Sports Coordinator

Jannell Eade

I am very fortunate to have two roles here at Cornerstone. I am a special needs teacher aide and also the sports coordinator. These two roles encompass my two passions. I love being on the learning journey with the special young children I work with; witnessing their challenges, growth and achievements. I am rewarded daily with their accomplishments.

Sport is a massive part of my life too. I thrive on coaching, organising and encouraging students to explore all of the life lessons they can learn by participating
in team and individual sports. Our vision for sport at Cornerstone is to see the majority of our students involve themselves in a sport, in any capacity. We are fast becoming a very competitive Manawatu school in the sporting arena.

I love working in such a supportive, positive and encouraging school.

Teacher Aide

Barbara Hembrow

I have been a teacher aide since 2011, after spending many hours as a parent in the classroom and in various school activities.

My journey with Cornerstone started in 1996, when my daughter and, later, my son attended the Preschool in the Life Church crèche. I became involved with the fundraising group and learned how to parent help at the preschool, in new entrants and made my way up through the school years. My older children laugh because, although they still see themselves as Cornerstone Children, they have left school yet their Mum still has to go every day! My youngest child is in secondary at Cornerstone, so our Cornerstone story has not yet ended.

I completed a Teacher Aide certificate in 2013. I assist teachers in classrooms from Year 1 to Year 10, helping students who need extra support with literacy and numeracy.

I love how Christ is in every part of our day at school and how each child is celebrated as a special gift from God.

Teacher Aide

Jane Lawrence

Kia ora!

I am excited to be joining Cornerstone Christian School and look forward to being part of the Aroha team. 

I originally joined the Cornerstone community back in 2005, as a volunteer at the preschool, and I worked there for over a year. I continued my volunteer work at the Featherston Street Cornerstone Christian School site with the New Entrant class and Year 1 children. Whilst working at the school, I completed a teacher aide certificate with Open Polytechnic NZ. I continued to work as a teacher aide at Roberts line until 2008, when I took a break on the arrival of our first daughter Hannah. In 2010, we had our second daughter, Sarah.

I re-joined the workforce a few years later as a Teacher aide at Kairanga School. In 2017, when we moved back into Palmerston North, our girls started their own journeys at Cornerstone and I once again started to assist the teachers. In 2018, I started working in the Aroha team as a Teacher aide.

It is such a privilege to be a part of the support staff at Cornerstone Christian School and to be able to help children reach their full potential together.

Teacher Aide

Maria McDonald

My name is Maria McDonald. I am truly privileged to be able to work in an environment where Jesus Christ is at the centre. It is exciting to see Jesus working
daily in the children’s lives.

I enjoy working alongside amazing staff members to make a difference in the lives of these young people and seeing their abilities grow and develop.

Teacher Aide

Jessica Meyer

Kia ora Cornerstone Family!

I am so excited and blessed to be part of the Cornerstone Family. I love every minute of being a Teacher Aide and enjoy spending time amongst incredible staff and students. I have been a Teacher Aide at Cornerstone Christian School since September 2018.

I have had the pleasure of calling Palmerston North and New Zealand home since February 2018 along with my husband and two amazing children who are both at Cornerstone.

I am originally from Cape Town South Africa and spent 10 years in the UK. My family returned to South Africa in 2015 before relocating to Palmerston North.

I am passionate about encouraging and helping children develop their relationship with the Lord. I have had the privilege of delivering the message of Jesus to children, regardless of their background, culture and age in a way that is comprehensible to them. It is such a satisfying feeling watching a child shine for Jesus.

Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it. – Proverbs 22:6

Teacher Aide

Anne-Marie Mitchell

What an awesome privilege to be a part of the Cornerstone Christian School community!

I have been working as a special needs teacher aide since 2014 and find it exciting and fulfilling to help and encourage children both in their educationand in developing to their full potential in God!

Teacher Aide

Ruth Oemcke

My name is Ruth Oemcke. I have worked as a teacher aide for over 20 years and prior to that was employed as a hospice nurse. I started my journey at Cornerstone 11 years ago and in that time have found the staff to be incredibly genuine.

I work with the special needs children. I have a passion to see the students excel in whatever they are able to do, helping them to increase their confidence and self-esteem. It is a privilege to work with the students. Being a mother of a daughter who has Downs syndrome, I know first-hand the importance of students being included and accepted in their school environment. I love seeing the children make progress.

Patience is on the top of the list, but when breakthrough comes, even in the smallest things, it is very much celebrated. It is also a pleasure to see the children enjoying their schoolwork, especially when they’ve experienced success at whatever level; their eagerness to learn obviously increases.

Because of the school’s Special Character we are able to talk openly about Christian things, which of course involves our character and how we are to treat others. I find this a really good tool to help other children to be inclusive of the children that require a little extra help. It is always wonderful to see children independently looking out for the needs of those who struggle and encouraging them.

I really do love working here. In every class I have assisted in, the teachers are so encouraging and supportive of addressing the needs of individual children. They show a real empathy for the children and are eager to see them progress and be involved in as many areas as possible.

Science Technician

Joy Soo


I moved to New Zealand from the Philippines in 2008 after getting married to a NZ-born Chinese. We have two active sons who both go to Cornerstone.

I have a degree in Food Technology. After graduating, I worked as a university researcher for two years. I then moved to the food manufacturing industry and worked for more than 10 years in several companies developing products from food sauces, to reconstituted liquid creamer and other dairybased products.

When my eldest son started school here at Cornerstone in 2014, I was very impressed with the culture of the school. There is warmth, kindness and friendliness from the school staff, the parents and the students. Now that I am part of the school, I am excited to work with a great team who work passionately towards one vision.

Support staff – Administration, Property etc.

Administration Officer

Jean Wilkins

I joined Cornerstone Christian School staff as the Administration Officer in Term 4 2018. My family and I moved to the Manawatu from the North Waikato in May 2018. I bring with me over 15 years reception/administration experience, including 6 years as the school administrator at our local primary school and relieving in our local high school office. 

 I enjoy working with children and meeting and greeting new people, so really enjoy the frontline roll. I am really blessed to have the opportunity to work with a lovely team of people, who encourage the children to be confident followers of Jesus Christ, equipping and inspiring them to creatively impact our world, and instilling the school values of Respect, Diligence, Integrity and Kindness within the context of our Humility before God.

Student Administration Officer

Ilona Shewell

I am originally from South Africa. My family and I have been in New Zealand for almost three years. We were blessed to have our two boys accepted into Cornerstone. We as a family have felt truly welcome and accepted.

My path at Cornerstone started with me being a Teacher aide. I absolutely loved being within the classroom environment and being involved with the students. When the position for student administrator became available, I knew that I had to apply, as my background is in administration. I had the best of both worlds available to me, administration and still being involved with the students. I feel as though I have found where I am meant to be. I am truly blessed to be part of an amazing team at Cornerstone.

As a mother of two young boys that attend Cornerstone, I can honestly say that as a family we are truly blessed to be part of the Cornerstone Christian school family. The school has provided my children with the Christian values that are so important to us as a family. It is a blessing to see how they have both grown as Christians and as individuals.

My position as student administrator provides me with the opportunity to meet not only the students, but also their families. I have the privilege of being one of the staff members that can first welcome new students and their families to the Cornerstone Christian school family. It is a truly humbling experience to see so many families walking down the same Christian path, wanting to instill the same Christian values.

Executive Officer

Angela Richards

I joined the team at Cornerstone Christian School in 2014, to assist in the areas of finance, payroll and property.

Prior to coming to Cornerstone, I spent sixteen years in a Chartered Accountant’s office as an Associate Chartered Accountant, so this is a new and exciting environment for me.

I’m looking forward to using my knowledge to help the school progress. I feel very blessed to be working alongside a great team of people who are passionate about equipping children to be confident followers of Jesus Christ who impact our world in a positive way.

Principal’s P.A

Sarndra Rauzi

I joined Cornerstone’s staff in 2014, having previously been involved for many years as a parent and volunteer.

Cornerstone has an exciting vision and it is a privilege to serve on the administration team taking care of the little details that help to ensure the smooth running of the school.


Kevin Randall

I am a South African who has been living in New Zealand for almost 14 years. It has been absolutely awesome! I am 10 years happily married to a cute Kiwi girl and we have a gorgeous 7-year old son called Joshua, who is also here at Cornerstone.

I joined Cornerstone Christian School as its new caretaker in December 2018. Little did I know that I would be going to school each and every day with my son Joshua! Just as Almighty God, in the beginning, created a garden and put Adam in it as his caretaker, I feel that I have the privilege of taking care of His property here at Cornerstone.

Please pray for me as I will be praying for you too!