Fiona Barrow

Founder, Program Co-ordinator and Teacher at Serendipity Learning

Fiona attended the University of New England in Armidale graduating with a Bachelor of Primary Education degree in 2002, specialising in Personal Development, Health and Physical Education as well as Gifted and Talented Education. Fiona has 12 years teaching experience working across all grades from Kindergarten to Year 6. She started her teaching career in the private school sector at Bishop Druitt College, Coffs Harbour. After 3 years full time at Bishop Druitt College, Fiona and her husband moved to Toowoomba QLD where she worked at Fairholme College; a private, all girls day and boarding school for 6 years.  

In her time as an educator, Fiona has specialised in Enrichment Programs and Health and Nutrition in children. Throughout her career, Fiona has held positions of responsibility with coordinating and organising sporting carnivals, creative arts festivals and has been involved in many professional learning opportunites specifically focused on differentiating the curriculum for all learners. Since moving back to Coffs Harbour in 2012, whilst returning to work part time at Bishop Druitt College, Fiona has developed a private tutoring program catering for remedial and extension students in the areas of Literacy and Numeracy. It was during this time that Fiona developed a passion for providing education that is tailored to the specific needs of individual students. Her greatest passion is to instill a love of learning in all children that she teaches. This passion together with her drive to teach children about healthy living led to the inception of Serendipity Learning.

Fiona is married to a High School Music teacher and has 2 young children, a son 7 years and a daughter 4 years. She grew up in Inverell, completing the majority of her schooling there until moving to Coffs Harbour in 1995. She desires to see the individual needs of each student met in a safe, caring and nurturing learning environment that encourages creative thinking and practical problem solving, two vital life skills.


Karen (Kay) Bailey


Kay graduated from the University of Exeter, UK, with a BA Hons Degree in Primary Education and French. Having grown up in Lagos, Nigeria, Kay always had a passion for travel and so began her teaching career in Singapore. In Singapore, Kay spent four years teaching small groups of children aged 2-16 at Lorna Whiston Schools. The school is one of the most prestigious language schools in Singapore and was founded (in 1980), due to demand for high quality, interactive English language programs. Kay initially joined the school as a class teacher however, in 1997, she was given the opportunity to move to Malaysia and set up the first Lorna Whiston Centre in Kuala Lumpur. There, she helped expand the programs to include Early Childhood and Kindergarten classes, developing a unique syllabus based on the best of Australian and British curriculums and English language classes for students up to the age of 16. Later, Speech and Drama and TESOL programs were included.

Kay handed over the leadership role after 11 years to spend time with her young son. However, she continued with her first love, teaching part time and acted as a consultant for the school until her departure from Malaysia.

In January 2014, Kay, together with her Australian husband and young son moved to Coffs Harbour to be closer to family. Kay believes they couldn’t have asked for a better place to live and have been overwhelmed by the warm welcome they received in this fantastic part of the country. Kay has valuable experience in teaching small groups of children and creating tailor-made programs to suit individual needs, with an emphasis on enjoyment, in order to build confidence. She also enjoys the rapport with parents and appreciates the importance of working together to achieve the best for each individual child.


Katie Hein


Katie graduated from La Trobe University in 2005 with a Bachelor of Science and a Graduate Diploma of Education (K-12). During her university years, Katie cared for children with special needs at school holiday programs and in before and after school care.

Katie has well over a decade of teaching experience at primary and secondary schools in both Victoria and New South Wales. She began her teaching career at Wangaratta High school where she specialises in Maths and Science. Katie had a passion to work with children with learning difficulties and was involved in piloting a program with interactive whiteboards particularly with special needs students. She eventually moved into primary teaching and in recent years she has been a relief teacher at St Andrews Christian College in Grafton.

Katie grew up in Melbourne but has called the North Coast home for the past few years. She is married to a local building Project Manager and is a mother to five children. She has three boys and two girls, three of whom she is currently home schooling. As a family, they love their local church, the outdoors, going on bike rides together and staying active. Katie is also part of the local badminton club.

Katie believes in the importance of caring and nurturing the individual needs of students so that each child may achieve their absolute best.


Penelope Pratley

Art Teacher

Penelope has been mucking about with paint since she was a small girl. With a Bachelor of Fine Art and a Bachelor of Teaching from The University of Tasmania, she began teaching Art in schools in 2000, teaching those from pre-schoolers to Year 12 students.

No longer teaching in schools, after taking a break from professional life to focus on family, this experienced instructor has been tutoring from her home studio continuing to produce and sell her work professionally under the business name of Penelope’s Nest. Penny is currently spending her days creating all kinds of lovely images for clients and illustrating her first picture book to be published in 2018.

Penelope is passionate about providing children with the skill set to successfully use different art mediums at an early age, enabling them to see and interpret their environment through creativity in art. She has reached the conclusion that by teaching children to see and record their perception of the world at an early age, they will not suffer creative frustration as they enter later years. Penelope is a big believer in the power of using Art to:

Penelope is a big believer in the power of using Art to:

  • Serve others.
  • Develop a child’s imagination, confidence, self-esteem and ability to make decisions.
  • Increase children's higher level thinking skills.

In addition to her skills as an artist, illustrator, writer, painter and educator, Penelope loves to dance, nap and teach art. She is a Mum, reads copious books, plays the harp, co-owns a small menagerie and has also been a fairy.


Emily Tamas


Emily attended The University of Newcastle, graduating in 2001 with a Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Teaching degree with Honours in Teaching. She began permanent classroom teaching at Toormina High School in 2002 under the Targeted Graduate Program. During her early years of teaching, she also attained her Honours degree in English from The University of New England with her thesis on the poetry of Sylvia Plath and Anna Wickham. During her time at Toormina HS, Emily taught all levels of Junior and Senior English, including Preliminary and HSC Standard, Advanced, Extension 1 and Extension 2 English courses. She also taught History classes in Years 7-10. Emily also has experience marking HSC Advanced English papers and a solid understanding of NAPLAN requirements.

Her motivation as an English teacher is to empower all students through an appreciation and enjoyment of the written word so that they may experience the pleasure of understanding a text deeply, to have the skills and freedom to articulate their own ideas and to know that they will be able to engage in the world as critically aware citizens as a result of their English studies. She is currently taking a break from full-time classroom teaching to be at home with her little ones.


Courteney Treadwell

Teacher Intern

Courteney is in her second year of study at University of New England (remotely through the Armidale Campus) and will complete her Bachelor of Early Childhood and Primary Education in 2019.

Courteney has created, coordinated and taught educational programs for younger children. She has also taught primary and senior students in Dance (Physical Culture and Highland Dance). Her experience of working with students in the local community opened her eyes to the world of education and inspired her to focus on students’ self-confidence and creative abilities.

Courteney is Coffs born and raised. She is passionate about seeing young students find the confidence they need to be capable, educated and productive members of the community whilst also instilling a love for themselves and others.


Katie Dean


With over 17 years’ experience of teaching in the State school system, Katie brings a wealth of academic knowledge and experience to her work as a tutor. She has a keen interest in all things scientific and encourages her students to develop a love of ‘STEM’ subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) from their earliest years.


Lydia Young


Lydia was born and raised in Bridgeport, Michigan. She graduated in May 2006 with Honors from West Coast Baptist College in Lancaster, California with a Bachelor Degree in Elementary Education.

She met her Australian husband at college in California and, after they graduated, they married and moved to Coffs Harbour. They have lived here for almost 12 years now and have four boys ages eight, seven, four and one.

Whilst Lydia’s focus is on tutoring primary age students in Literacy and Maths, she also teaches piano. She has a passion for reading and music and encourages both her own children and her students to love books and all types of music.

Lydia and her family are active in their church and she has also taught at Coffs Harbour Bible School.


Penny Dennis


Penny has been teaching since graduating from Southern Cross University in 2008 with a Graduate Diploma in Education. She gained her first degree in Geography from Birkbeck College, London University and spent the following years working in the newspaper industry and for charities, Crime Concern UK and The National Heart Foundation Australia in public relations and marketing.

Since coming to Coffs Harbour in 2000, she worked in the hotel industry before re-training as a teacher in 2008, a profession she loves.

Penny has taught at both Bishop Druitt College and John Paul College as a relief teacher but, since 2012 has focussed on tutoring students in Years 7 to 12. She loves teaching English and has a special interest in HSC texts and Shakespeare. Penny also has a comprehensive knowledge of Geography, Ancient History, Modern History, Commerce and Business Studies.

In her spare time over the past ten years, Penny has been active in community theatre and recently started up her own theatre company, The Coast Comedy Players.

Penny’s philosophy of teaching is fundamentally humanist – she says that by sharing her knowledge and understanding of the world with young people, she knows that this will help them to become better citizens, happier people and to fulfil their personal goals.


Tara Tweddle

Client and Business Services Officer

Tara works at Serendipity Learning part-time in an administrative capacity overseeing enrolments and accounts, liaising with families and assisting with advertising and marketing for the business.

Tara has attained many administrative and management skills, throughout her extensive experience as an Office Manager for the Port of Brisbane Corporation and as a Small Business Manager for 10 years in her family business. She is now also a Business Manager in her husband’s building company, Houston Constructions.

She is often described as a ‘Jack of All Trades’, with the ability to take on any tasks, no matter how large, small, ladylike or blokey!

When Tara is not ‘working’, she is a busy mum to two active little boys.

Tara loves seeing how passionate the staff are about supporting and enriching the students they teach. By looking after the administrative side of things, Tara enables Fiona and the Serendipity teaching staff to focus on their planning and preparation for the wonderful students under their tutelage.

Katherine Bishop

Katherine completed a Bachelor of Primary Education Studies through Charles Sturt University in 2007 and a Bachelor of Arts in French through Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada in 1988. She has 15 years’ experience across primary and secondary grades teaching French and Japanese. During the last 8 years, Katherine has provided support for primary and secondary students in mathematics as well as fulfilling the role of co-ordinator in a Coffs Harbour school’s numeracy support program. She is currently employed at Bishop Druitt College as a primary Japanese teacher and for numeracy support in the secondary school.

Katherine has extensive experience teaching French language from kindergarten to Year 10. Growing up in a bilingual country instilled in her an understanding of the importance of learning other languages, as well as the role this plays in developing cultural awareness. She is passionate about the role that second language skills play in building acceptance and appreciation of diversity in our lives and our communities. Katherine has always had a passion for learning and feels fortunate to have had extremely positive schooling experiences throughout her life. From extensive tutoring experience in Canada and up to HSC General Maths level in Australia, Katherine has seen that a positive schooling experience is not always the case for all students. She is committed to identifying and assisting students in overcoming blocks they may have developed over the course of their schooling.

In 2018, Katherine completed a professional development course in using multi-sensory mathematics strategies to help students grasp mathematical concepts and develop strong number sense skills. She is keen to continue exploring this avenue to assist those students with learning difficulties such as dyscalculia, those who find mathematics challenging and those who may have missed important concepts in their learning journey so far.

Katherine grew up in Halifax, on the east coast of Canada. She has lived in Australia for 30 years, and Coffs Harbour for 20. She has been married for 4 years to another North American ex-pat who works locally in marine biology and science education. She has a 21-year-old daughter, a 21-year-old step-daughter and a 19-year-old step-son. Katherine is a firm believer of education opening doors and opportunities and that these should be available to all students. Where factors combine to challenge this, maths can become a negative experience for students. Katherine enjoys the reward of helping students to re-activate their excitement and self-belief to enable them to reach their own potential.

Wendy Savaris

Wendy loves teaching foundation literacy skills and uses a systematic, cumulative approach with multisensory techniques and a synthetic phonics sequence. She is always striving to set children up for success - they build their confidence by practising discrete reading and spelling skills and reading decodable texts which match each lesson.

Wendy is accredited with the Australian Dyslexia Association after completing her MSL training and practicum. She takes delight in watching her students build their self-esteem and self-efficacy with their school work.

Having long had a passion for travel and languages, she lived overseas for most of the 1990s and taught English as a Second Language in Japan, Greece and Hawaii. Settling down in Coffs Harbour in 2000, Wendy taught English part-time at the CHEC Elicos Centre and then the Coffs Coast Community College while also studying psychology at SCU. She is proud to be a life-long learner and likes chatting with our community's lovely library staff.

Having had her own children, Wendy decided to study Early Childhood and also fell in love with the Parent and Child Group at Coffs Harbour's Casuarina Steiner primary school. She is a Playgroup Teacher there and loves sharing stories and songs. They have beautiful messages and can also help build phonological awareness which entail important pre-literacy skills.

In her spare time, Wendy can be found drinking coffee or browsing the shelves at the library. At home, her favourite activities are laughing over delicious meals with her husband Steve and children Blake and Emily.


Agustina Rodriguz-Roberts


Originally from Argentina, Agustina (Aggie) has a Bachelor of Education in Primary Teaching and has been working as an educator for 15 years in different countries, including Australia. During her first years of practice, she trained as an International Baccalaureate Teacher and she is fluent in Spanish, Portuguese and English.

Aggie also studied Psychology and Counselling and she recently finished her training as a Life Coach specialising in human relationships. She is currently working as Language teacher at the Casuarina Steiner School and as an educator and Administration assistant at the Bishop Druitt College Out of School Hours Care centre.

Aggie loves music and she has sung in many bands and choirs around the world. She complements her singing with playing the guitar and ukulele.

Aggie is very passionate about the importance of education to nurture individuals to achieve their potential. She recognises that education has the potential to develop more creative, harmonious, respectful individuals who can contribute to an inclusive society. She loves being part of the Serendipity Learning team and is fully committed to provide high quality tutoring to all her students.


Astri Sjoberg

Mathematician and Tutor

Astri studied at the Rand Afrikaans University in Johannesburg, South Africa, obtaining a BSc Honours and MSc (Applied Mathematics) – all cum laude – and she finished a PhD in 2003 through the University of the Witwatersrand.

She taught Applied Mathematics to science and engineering students at the University of Johannesburg for 14 years during which time she participated in research for industry and published several research articles.

In 2009 her family moved to Coffs Harbour where she started tutoring privately while settling her family into a new country.

Astri has many interests including sewing, cutting music for dance teachers, teaching dance and running a dance school, running Lego activities and running enrichment classes. The joy of working with younger students led her to enrol in a Masters of Teaching (Secondary Mathematics) in 2016 at the University of New England. She will complete this qualification later this year.

Astri has tutored students from year four to university at all ability levels, including extension Mathematics, and is thrilled to be working with students at Serendipity Learning.

Outside of work, Astri spends time with her husband and two children, reads, dabbles in art and helps out behind the sound desk at church.

Jacqueline Kiss

Jacqueline Kiss


Jacqueline attended LaTrobe University in Bendigo studying a BEd (K-10) specialising in Literacy and History from 2015 - 2017. In 2018 she moved interstate and transferred to Southern Cross University in Coffs Harbour and will complete her BA/BEd Primary in June 2019.

She has undertaken many roles including Student Learning Support Officer with additional needs students from 2013 to present as well as Head Educator of an Out of School Hours Care service from December 2016 to December 2017.

Jacqueline is passionate about teaching and is eager to provide tailored educational enrichment programs for her students in a one-to-one environment – she strongly favours multisensory learning strategies. She is currently monitoring at a local school and is teaching casually at independent schools within the region while she completes her studies.

Jacqueline is married to a software developer and she grew up in Mount Beauty, Victoria, before moving to Bendigo to train as a teacher in 2015.

She wants to inspire her students to gain a passion for learning key skills in literacy and mathematics so that they can become the best versions of themselves, physically and mentally, and help them to achieve their personal and academic goals, both today and in later life.

Jacqueline loves running on the beach, going for walks while enjoying the beautiful scenery with her family and her favourite thing to do in her spare time is reading anything she can get her hands on.

Stephen Barrow

Stephen Barrow

Music Teacher

Stephen's journey with Music began with Piano lessons when he was 5 years old, which continued throughout his Primary School years. At 10, he began learning the trumpet and joined the school band, a pursuit that would take him on high school tours to both New Zealand and Canada. As High School began, Stephen's passion for learning the drums was realised, as he received his first Drumkit. Building on the skills and knowledge already gained from his years learning the piano and trumpet, Stephen also began teaching himself to play the guitar and the bass guitar.

Upon finishing High School, Stephen joined a band based on the Gold Coast and spent 1999 touring South Australia, Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland, playing to a cumulative audience of over 55,000 people. During this tour, Stephen enrolled in the Bachelor of Music / Bachelor of Teaching degree at the University of New England in Armidale, graduating in 2003, specialising in Performance and Composition. He has over 16 years of experience teaching classroom music from Years 6 to 12.

After beginning his teaching career at Bishop Druitt College, Stephen and his wife moved to Toowoomba QLD where he worked at Christian Outreach College as a High School Music teacher and for Musicorp Australia as an instrumental music tutor to 5 local primary schools. Stephen and his young family returned to Coffs Harbour in 2011 for Stephen to work at the Christian Community School in Bonville, where he spent 8 years devoting his time and expertise to the school community. Stephen currently works part-time as a classroom music teacher at Bellingen High School.

Through his experience as a performer and his time as an educator, Stephen has strived to instil a love and passion for the pursuit of music in all students under his care. His drive to see young musicians grow, improve and broaden their understanding and ability can be seen through his willingness to share his time, knowledge and skills with all of his students.

In his time as a musician and educator, Stephen has led multiple ensembles, from Jazz and Concert bands, to Choirs, Drumlines and even an Indonesian Gamelan Ensemble. This stems from his firm belief that, while music starts with a dedication to learning the necessary skills required to command an instrument, Music is a truly universal language that must be shared – whether that be with friends and family members or together with other musicians on the stage for all to see, hear and feel.

Stephen is married to a Primary School teacher and small business owner. They have 2 children, a son 11 years and a daughter 8 years. He grew up on the Mid North Coast – firstly living in Mylestom and then in Toormina where he completed the majority of his schooling. While teaching music is a large part of Stephen’s life, he also stays active as a performer, singing and playing the drums for a number of local bands as well as giving his time as an accompanist.