Staff Profiles


Gina Smith - Principal

Initially I didn’t want to be a teacher but my sister-in-law thought it would be a great idea and took me to an intake evening. Lucky she did because I love what I do! The reason I changed my mind was I wanted school to be a great experience for all tamariki.

I was terrified on my first day but there was no need to be. Those first students were the reason I am still a teacher. They took everything we gave them & looked after us all. They taught me how to be a teacher.

What I like most about teaching is that every day is different and you never stop learning. It is rewarding seeing students happy and being able to help them when learning is hard or they are having a tough time.


Tara Johnson - Office Administrator

Room 1

Sue Ham - Classroom Teacher, Junior School Team Leader and Deputy Principal

I have been privileged to be Deputy Principal and a junior school teacher at Featherston School since 2014. I have taught at a number of schools during my teaching career, from isolated sole charge rural schools to a large city school of 600 students but nowhere has touched my heart like Featherston School and its amazing students and community.

When I am not teaching I enjoy spending time with Tony my husband, daughter Kirsty and granddaughter Maddie. I am a passionate gardener, dog lover and dog walker for Gypsy our dog as well as being a smitten carer for LJ our tabby kitten.

Debbie - Teacher Aide

I have lived in Featherston for about 28 years, I have worked or volunteered at Featherston School for the past 20. I am currently the cleaner and the teacher aide in Room 1. I love coming to school each day, it does not feel like work at all. Every day is a pleasure, the children bring such joy to my days. Being greeted by all those happy faces, smothered in hugs is the best way to begin the day. Who could ask for more?

Room 2

Kimberley Hewison - Classroom Teacher

Natalie - Teacher Aide

I became a teacher aide soon after moving back into the area from Lower Hutt. On my first day I remember feeling very much out of depth! It was a huge change from anything else I had ever done. I love seeing children make progress in their learning and feel very fortunate to be part of the process. It is an absolute joy to work with children and get to know them individually. It is such a warm and welcoming environment and I love coming to work each day.

Room 3

Natalie Orbell - Classroom Teacher

I became a teacher because I wanted to inspire young people. I believe in building strong relationships and learning about the wellbeing of each student, while celebrating diversity and creating a multicultural setting in the classroom.

I highly value home-school partnerships and believe in shared communication and that collaboration is important to support tamariki and their learning needs. I encourage high expectations and believe the students need to be challenged and have achievable and realistic goals established. I always treat my students fairly and with respect.

My classroom will be a positive, fun, friendly and safe environment for learning and students need to feel comfortable taking risks.

Leah - Teacher Aide

Room 4

Jocelyn Kebbell - Classroom Teacher and Senior School Team Leader

Tena koutou katoa. Ko Jocelyn toku ingoa. I am a proud teacher at Te Kura o Paetumokai - this school is a special place, with amazing staff and tamariki. I love the energy that our children bring to school each day - their positivity is contagious and to be able to share their learning journey with them is a true privilege. I have been teaching for over two decades and three years ago began working as the Team Leader for the Senior School - a position I treasure as we have an amazing team who have a joint purpose - to ensure your tamariki are safe, confident and active participants in their learning. During my time away from school I am happiest in the sun with a book or spending time with my husband, whanau, friends and our two crazy dogs.

Jo - Teacher Aide

Hi I’m Jo Johnson, I have lived in Featherston for about 28yrs. I have two girls aged 22 and 20, who were both taught at Featherston School. I have been a teacher aide at Featherston School since 2004, I have worked in all classes throughout the school in that time. I am also the library administrator in the school. I love supporting and helping to teach the kids in this town. I am the Featherston Swimming Club President and have been on the committee for 14yrs.

Room 5

Miss Smith - Principal


Johnny - Teacher Aide

I have always enjoyed helping children to be the best they can be, when the opportunity arose to be a teacher aide, I jumped at the challenge. At first the job was daunting as I had to build a rapport with everyone and I had to learn the school rules.

Every day is a new challenge. As I watch the students grow I try to have a positive influence and I find this work very rewarding. Some of my previous jobs have been at KFC, in clothing retail, as a bouncer and in banking. My favorite moment was when I had to race against students in a swimming fundraiser. I won of course.

Room 6

Sue Button - Classroom Teacher

I became a teacher because I want to help children realise their true potential. I really enjoy challenging children to become lifelong learners in everything they do. I have had some amazing teachers myself who made learning fun and engaging and made sure school was a wonderful experience for me and I hope to replicate this in my classroom. I have been involved with children sports for most of my adult life through coaching and before teaching I worked in the banking and superannuation industry.

Te Ata - Teacher Aide


Sandra Walters - Technology Teacher

I became a teacher because I love working with children. I started as a Playcentre Mum when my children were small, followed them to school (teacher aide, volunteer, worked in the office) and decided I might as well do the extra training and be an actual teacher.

I remember my class of year 5/ 6 students designing and making yachts out of recycled materials and racing them in the school creek. I also remember using different natural materials to dye fabrics. Perhaps these experiences are what encouraged me to specialise in technology. I enjoy talking with a wide variety of students. I enjoy seeing delight on the faces of students who have achieved something they did not believe they could do. I love to see the creativity of students in my classes – they come up with some very useful, relevant designs and just need me to help them make them.

I started working when I was a child, picking raspberries. Since then I have work in a fruit shop, a cheese factory, waitressing, at the Statistics department (yawn), market research administration & client service, in the school office, as a teacher Aide, a teacher, a general election polling place manager, a minute secretary & Returning Officer for BOT.

Ange Compton - Technology Teacher

I became a teacher as I feel that education is important. One of my first memories of being a teacher was riding to school on my motorbike and arriving cold and wet. As a teacher I try to find the best ways to help each student learn.

I have previously been a bus driver, worked in a gallery, been a researcher and been involved in natural healing. The funniest thing I remember as a teacher was not noticing that some students had glued equipment to the ceiling.

Extension Teachers

Dallas Powell - Teacher

I have wanted to be a teacher since the age of 5. When I was 12 years old I was home sick for 3 weeks so I drew individual students and placed them around my room and taught them. My first year of teaching was at Tairangi in Porirua. I had a lovely class of standard one students.

I like that each child is an individual. A 5 year old has as much character as a 13 year old. They soak up knowledge like a sponge. I have previously worked for IHC and IRD in between teaching jobs. I once asked a student if I had 6 bananas and I ate 2, what fraction would I have left? His answer was “The skins”!

Abby - Reading Recovery Teacher