Meet the 2017 ELC staff!

I proudly introduce the 2017 ELC team. To facilitate the changes introduced to the ELC in 2017, we appointed a group of fantastic, skilled and caring educators. Together, with the existing staff we are a united and effective team. Here is a short paragraph about each member of the team so that you can get to know him or her a little bit more!

Gay Illingworth

ELC team



L-R Top row – Kate Burns, Sue Cullen, Fiona Richter, Noleen Stewart, Bettina Abram, Penny Kerr, Gay Illingworth

L-R bottom row – Anne Gacic, Tash Herr, Linda Salandra

Bettina Abram

My name is Bettina Abram and I am a mother to Maggie (8) and Louis (5). I enjoy spending my free time with family and friends and riding horses with my Mum and Maggie. I have been an Early Childhood teacher for 17 years. I have taught at St Andrew’s School teaching R-2 for 10 years, Annesley Junior School ELC for five years and then as a sessional Academic at Uni SA teaching the subjects of Play and Managing Learning Environments.

I am a passionate teacher and value the importance of play and inquiry based learning.  My approach to teaching and learning draws upon a constructivist pedagogy that supports children to develop their independence. I believe in creating a learning environment that enhances a child’s construction of his or her own learning and that young children thrive when given the opportunity to learn through play. I believe in the importance of supporting children to be creative and critical thinkers. At the core of my philosophy is the belief that relationships underpin everything educators do. I build relationships quickly and develop a sense of trust through the use of effective communication. I am an open, honest and empathetic communicator and believe that this is important to ensure that relationships develop and are nurtured through interactions. I encourage and support all children to be curious, engaged and independent learners.

I am thrilled to be part of the St John Grammar community and have really enjoyed getting to know the children and families so far.

Kate Burns

I have been one of the teachers in the four-year-old program for the last seven years at St John’s ELC.  I am a mother, living in the Belair community who enjoys this Hills bushland setting and the opportunity it provides to be active in the outdoors, bush walking, cycling or just being immersed in the wonder nature provides. Recently, I have completed Montessori studies with AMI (Australian Montessori International) complementing my Bachelor of Early Childhood Education. The Montessori philosophy resonates with my values of supporting young children’s independence and I truly believe children afforded respect will show respect to others and their environment. A passionate, dedicated educator, I endeavour to provide a caring learning environment that is challenging, inclusive and authentic following the interests of the children allowing them to learn from experiences rather than words.

Sue Cullen

My name is Sue Cullen and I have been fortunate to have worked in the ELC for the past 15 years or so. Coming from a background in special education prior to starting here at St John’s I had many wonderful years teaching at St Ann’s special school before working as an early intervention consultant for the Down Syndrome Society. Our family has been firmly entrenched within the St John’s community for over 19 years now with our three children all attending from Monti as three year olds right through to Year 12.  It is an honour to work within the Montessori philosophy laying foundations of Respect, Independence and a love of learning through authentic and purposeful activities. I consider myself very lucky to be able to work in a profession that I love and to spend my days surrounded by young fresh eyes for who the world is just an exciting and incredible place – awe and wonder abound.

Penny Kerr

I am really excited about joining the Early Learning team at St John’s Grammar ELC. For the last 10 years I was the co-ordinator of the Fraser Room, Three Year Old Program at Scotch College. Prior to this, I was an ELC teacher at Little Princes ELC, at Prince Alfred College for 10 years, teaching children 3-5 years.  I have also taught at Pulteney Grammar Junior Primary, Annesley ELC and Seymour JP, teaching Preschool to Year 3.

I really enjoy working with young children, and I am so blessed to have gained lots of valuable experience in a variety of learning settings. I have taught single sex and in co-education learning environments, and am very interested in the differences between how boys and girls learn.

I have two children – Sophie who is 20 and Samuel who is 18. I love my two poodles, Charlie and Lucy, and I am married. I love chocolate and relaxing on the sofa at the end of a long day!

I look forward to establishing a relationship with you all – please come and introduce yourself to me and I would love to have a chat with you about your child’s learning, their interests, friendships, and their learning day.

Cathy Edmondson

I am Cathy Edmondson and my family have been with St John’s since 2000 when my three children joined the Junior School. I have worked in the ELC as a relief teacher and support worked for 13 years.

I believe in the Montessori philosophy and am passionate about the practice. It gives me great satisfaction watching and helping children develop the values and skills that can set them up for success in school and life.

When I’m not in school or following bike riders around the globe you’ll find me at home designing and making all sorts of craft kits.

Anne Gacic

Hi, I’m Anne, one of the ELC assistants. I have worked in the education system for 7 years now, as an ELC assistant here and St. Peters Lutheran School and as an SSO at Hackham East Primary.

I have 3 children, my oldest is in Year 9 here at St John’s. I am thoroughly enjoying my time here at St John’s and am getting to know all of your delightful children. I’m working Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons, so if I haven’t met you yet, please pop in and say hello!

Tash Herr

Hi, My name is Tash and I am 26 years old. I was born in Germany and came to Australia on a working visa five years ago when I met my partner from Adelaide. Soon I had decided to make this beautiful city my “second home”.

Since being very young I was drawn to a role that involved caring for younger children, children with disabilities and older people. I am currently studying my Diploma in Early Childhood and hope to finish in 2018.

I feel very lucky to be part of a beautiful and supportive team, sharing the same values here at St John’s ELC. I feel very honoured to be helping your children as they develop. It is a fantastic feeling to see the children make their first connections as they build trust with those around them.

The reason I chose to apply for a position at St John’s is very simple – since working in the Junior School from 2013 as a student support worker I have been absolutely fascinated by the way St John’s Grammar School supports individuals and how the students are the number one priority. I have seen amazing work by incredible teachers and it gives me great pleasure to see the students bloom and learn with enthusiasm and fun.

When not at school I enjoy photography, my jewellery business, local markets, camping, travelling, European handball, my family and friends, surfing and wake boarding, the beach, rock climbing, art and reading!

I look forward to building a close relationship with your children.

Fiona Richter

This is my twelfth year working in the St John’s ELC and I have worked with many wonderful staff and across both rooms.  This year, I am working in Education Support for the 3 year old program, with some before and after session time in the Mussared buliding.

Outside of work, I have a lovely husband and four children (although three are technically ‘adults’!!) and my youngest daughter is in Year 9 at St John’s.  I enjoy reading, cooking, movies, playing basketball and tennis.

Linda Salandra

My name is Linda, my career path started as a hairdressing/beautician, which I enjoyed for 15 years.

I moved to Perth and followed a path of photography. After four years I retuned to Adelaide and worked in the mines for three years. For many years I have had an interest In Montessori, having a friend in Brisbane with a beautiful Montessori centre. I spent a week at her centre, and then decided this was the path I wanted to take. I’ve been working at the ELC for four years and work amongst great educators. I have diplomas in both Children Services and Montessori Studies, and working together with so many different children my job is never dull or boring.

My interests are gardening, movies, trying different foods and spending time with my family and friends.

Noleen Stewart

I am a mum of three beautiful teens, wife, local hills dweller, nature lover, and occasional painter.  I have worked as a teacher for over 20 years, in various capacities, including Art, Drama, English, English as a Second Language, PE, Year One, and as a relief teacher. I am passionate about literacy, seeing children explore their creativity and develop towards their potential.  I love building relationships, and sharing challenging, crazy, joyful, life-moments with children and adults alike. I am excited to be working with the lovely staff and delightful little ones at St John’s in the ELC.