Our People

Tracie Phua:  Head Of School



Tracie was blessed with a second career in early childhood education at TMS since April 2003 after a rewarding one in information technology in Singapore. She finds it both humbling and a privilege to work with children in their formative years, sharing their journey towards becoming confident and competent life long learners. Tracie discovered the Montessori Method while looking for the right preschool for her own children in Singapore. She holds a B. Ed (ECE) from AUT University and a Montessori Diploma (2.5 - 6 years) from St Nicholas Montessori Training Centre (London).

Her studies into the theories and practice of early childhood education reaffirmed her belief that the Montessori Method is unsurpassed in supporting the holistic learning of young children. As Head of School, Tracie's vision is to continue making TMS a special community where adults "follow the child" to help them reach their fullest potential. 

Tracie enjoys reading, travelling, watching the occasional musical and trying out the various cuisines available in Auckland. She makes up for any over-indulgence in the latter by taking walks along the many beaches of the East Coast Bays, swimming, and working out at the gym when time permits.


Bee-Wah Wong: Casa Guide



Bee-Wah and her family immigrated to New Zealand in early 2002. She began her teaching career in 1987 as a primary school teacher in Singapore. After working at Takapuna Primary School for two and half years, she decided to pursue a degree in early childhood education. Towards the end of her second year at Auckland University of Technology, she opted for the Montessori Specialty in her final year. Bee-Wah has been a total 'Montessori convert' since then. She firmly believes in this quote from Dr Maria Montessori, that “the test of the correctness of educational procedures is the happiness of the child".

In her spare time Bee Wah enjoys reading, traveling, cooking; and has recently picked up gardening.


Karin Zapatero:  Casa Guide



Karin was born in Peru and raised in the capital city of Lima. She and her family moved to Aotearoa, New Zealand in 1995.

Karin has always been interested in working with, and helping people. After her communication studies in a Peruvian university were interrupted due to her immigration to New Zealand,  she resumed her studies in Psychology, Social work and Education at Massey University. After the birth of her first child in 2005,  she realized her passion was in early childhood education. In 2008 Karin had her second daughter and decided to be a full time mum until her children were ready for school. Karin treasured those wonderful years with her children and in 2011, she pursued her degree in ECE at AUT University.  At the end of her 2nd year of studies she heard about the Montessori philosophy and was totally convinced that this was the best way to support a child in their early years. She discovered that Montessori was not only about education but a way of seeing life through a new lens - through love and peace. "Maria Montessori is, to me, one of the most remarkable women in history. She believed in herself and fought against prejudices of her time, becoming one of the first women doctors in Italy. She believed that 'it is the child who makes the man' and humanity could only change for the better if adults support the child from their early years. Karin believes that every child is unique and should be accorded respect and dignity. She looks forward to sharing her Peruvian culture and Spanish language with the Titoki community. 

During her free time, Karin enjoys having fun with her young children and partner and catches up with her wonderful and supportive circle of friends and extended family. Karin loves the arts, musicals and theatre. Other interests are reading, walking, dancing, spiritual growth and learning about meditation. 


Jessica Kim :  Casa guide and school admin



Jessica (Soyoung) came to New Zealand at the end of 2008 from South Korea, where she began her studies in early childhood education. After experiencing the joys of New Zealand, she decided to continue her degree in ECE at AUT University. She took the opportunity to hone her language and early childhood teaching skills by volunteering at Sunday school and working across ECE centres as a reliever before and during her course at AUT.  

During her third year, she decided to specialise in the Montessori pedagogy, as she was fascinated by how the method allows each child to be respected for who they are and who they will become. Jessica was able to reflect and deepen her own teaching philosophies during her final year. She sees the teacher’s role as one that advocates for the empowerment of children to become independent, self-motivated, responsible and respectful. She believes that when teachers provide the prepared environment, opportunities and choices to support children to achieve their full potential; the children will grow as valuable and joyful contributors within their family, community and wider society.   

During her spare time, Jessica enjoys travelling, crafts, reading, watching movies and listening to music.     



"Titoki had a major influence on our family. Along with following the Montessori philosophies we often sort extra guidance on the best way to deal with situations involving Taylor and Jake at home. It is testament to the school that we can truly say that many of our family values and attitudes were shaped by what we learnt while Taylor and Jake were at Titoki.

The staff showed a high level of commitment, professionalism and dedication to not only the students and the school but to the families and extended families as well. ..We are very grateful for the contribution Titoki Montessori has made to our family personally and we unreservedly recommend Titoki Montessori and encourage people to visit to see what we mean.”

— Sarah and Adam Bicknell