Our Team

Lillian Thomson - Director 

Children's Circle Lillian Thomson

Lillian has been involved in Preschool care and education for more than 20 years whilst also bringing up her family of 3 with her husband, Andrew. She began her training through Playcentre, then completed her Diploma of Teaching (ECE) in 1999 and has worked in a number of settings since which have all influenced her teaching practise and philosophy.. Being introduced to the Waldorf/Steiner Philosophy several years ago brought about a profound change in the way she understood what it is that the young child needs in those first 7 years.

Children’s Circle Early Years Centre is the result of her vision to provide a quality childcare and education service in Tauranga which truly honours the holistic nature of childhood and the way in which the young child learns and grows by providing a beautiful, peaceful, harmonious environment and caring, nurturing teachers who support the unfolding child to grow.

She believes in the family/whanau and appreciates the wonderful and often times challenging role parents and families have in raising their children. As the saying goes "It takes a village to raise a child" and it is a privilege to work alongside the parents/ families/whanau of the children in our care.

Sarah Walker - Manager

Sarah has been in the ECE sector for over 18 years and in leadership within the sector for the past 7+ years.

Sarah passionate about children's early learning journey and in providing caring, supportive and loving environment where children feel confident to explore and experiment with the world around them and develop the skills needed to function within it.

“I am inspired by the Reggio approach, RIE, Pikler and Steiner philosophy and have always seen myself as a facilitator, supporting children and the adults working with them, to ensure our tamariki become competent and confident individuals in their early years of learning.

I was fortunate enough to grow up on a farm allowing me endless possibilities for exploration and play. This influences the importance I place on the natural world around us the importance of giving children opportunities to explore and experiment without interruption or opinion”.

Robyn Baker - Teacher


Robyn has a Bachelor of Design, Grad Dip. in secondary school teaching, Grad Dip. in early childhood education, Grad Certificate in Steiner Education and has been working at Children's Circle since mid 2019.  She enjoys living in the sunny Bay of Plenty where she grew up and her whanau are all still living. Her favorite activities are going to the beach and climbing Mauao. Health and well-being are important to her. "Hauora and over all holistic well-being is maintained, in my experience by supporting children’s strengths and allowing them to shine. I like to focus on providing healthy meals, a safe and natural environment, and the building of relationships. Tuakana – teina or peers learning from one another, works particularly well with our mixed age groups. I enjoy supporting the natural progression of learning as children demonstrate their interests and choose to apply themselves. All within flowing routines that provide familiarity and comfort."

 Troy Cleaver - Teacher

Troy has a Bachelor of Education (Primary) through the University of Waikato, and a Post Graduate Certificate in Steiner Education. He started off in primary education, but after seeing the importance of the early years from having children of his own, he became interested in Early Childhood Education.

"I enjoy being outside and in nature, I think having the opportunity to connect with papatuanuku can provide children with endless possibilities for learning through play.  I try to be as relaxed, calm and peaceful as possible in my own actions, in hopes that it rubs off on those around me.  I think it's essential to have a good laugh too.  I like to give things a go and learn new skills.  I enjoy playing music and learning new songs, and I try to use te reo as much as possible, always seeking out new phrases and songs to add to my repertoire. I believe that a caring, homelike environment, with plenty of time to play and explore in natural surroundings can bring forth the amazing innate potential each child possesses 

Corné Potgieter - Teacher

Corne Potgieter

Corné has a Graduate Diploma of Teaching ECE. Childhood is precious. She believes children should have time and space to be children. To belong to a place where they can play and develop at their own pace. She thinks the best way for children to learn to socialise, is within a mixed age group with adults supporting them. During her time at
Children’s Circle, she has seen how strong rhythms and routines give children a safe place to learn and explore. She enjoys observing how the natural environment and play materials enable children’s imagination and ability to play to develop. Children’s Circle is a place where she can support children to develop holistically through play, in a natural homelike environment, to become true human beings.

Te ara o tukutuku
The pathway of the spider.
                                                               Said in praise of something intricate and beautiful. (Trad.)