fiona

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.

ashleigh

Ashleigh Atkins

Teacher

Ashleigh studied engineering at the University of New South Wales, graduating in 2013 with a Bachelor of Photovoltaics and Solar Energy Engineering (Hons).

Following her graduation, Ashleigh worked in the energy management department for a large Australian university where her main roles were to conduct energy audits and lead energy efficiency upgrade projects. She then took on a role as a Photovoltaics Engineer, where her responsibilities included designing solar and renewable energy systems (residential and commercial), product testing and research. With an inherent desire to work directly within the community, Ashleigh completed additional studies to achieve a Graduate Diploma in Secondary Education, majoring in Mathematics.

In addition to the tutoring sessions she conducts for the High School students of Serendipity, Ashleigh works full-time in a public high school where she teaches Mathematics to mainstream classes from Years 7-12 as well as within a specialised IM class for students requiring additional learning support.

Ashleigh continues to find inspiration in teaching students at all stages and with all abilities. She strives to make mathematics enjoyable for all her students, drawing upon real life relatable experiences wherever possible.

When not busy with her students, Ashleigh likes to explore her creative side through making clothes and sewing. She also loves to dance, particularly ballet and hopes to branch out into ballroom dancing too!

Karen

Karen (Kay) Bailey

Teacher

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.

Kerry

Kerry Dixon

MSL (Multi Sensory Learning) Teacher

Even in her younger days, Kerry was drawn to working with children and her passion and interest in supporting children has never wavered. Kerry brings to Serendipity Learning over 25 years of classroom experience.

Kerry began her career in childcare and after four years in childcare she went on work in the classroom environment. Kerry commenced in Pre School teaching before moving into mainstream Primary Education in South Australia. Following this, Kerry moved to Victoria and worked in an International School where she continued supporting Pre School and primary children. In 2008, Kerry and her family decided they were keen for a sea change and made the move to the Coffs Coast. Upon settling into life by the beach, Kerry spent eight years at Bishop Druitt College.

Kerry has long been drawn to those children who have difficulties in the classroom and who struggle to conform to the more conventional, structured environment. In 2014, Kerry pursued her interest in teaching dyslexic children and became accredited in the MSL Orton Gillingham Australian Dyslexic Association Training Course.

Kerry feels extraordinarily lucky to be doing what she is doing at Serendipity Learning and feels she is the perfect match for the role. She loves that Multi Sensory Learning (phonics based learning rather than word based learning), brings ‘light bulb moments’ for her students each and every lesson.

When not supporting her students, Kerry will most likely be found catching some waves or playing sport. She is a passionate sportswoman and has been heavily involved in hockey over the years, both playing and coaching. In April 2017 she competed in the World Master Games in New Zealand where her team won a silver medal - a remarkable achievement.

julia

Julia Dryburgh

Yoga Teacher

Julia graduated from the University of Auckland in 2006 with a Bachelor of Education in Early Childhood. She has teaching experience in schools in Sydney, Brisbane and Auckland. Julia has also worked as a head teacher with children ranging in ages from six months to six years.

In 2005, Julia attained her Yoga for Children certificate. During Yoga classes for children, Julia uses stories, play and music to provide them with opportunities to grow physically and emotionally. These classes also benefit children by helping them to connect with themselves and others through yoga.

Julia has always had a passion for healthy living and lifestyle. She values the importance of educating children to cope with the challenges of a complex, busy life through mental and physical exercise.

Over the past decade, Julia, a mother of two, she has focused on her family, taking every opportunity to be involved in her children's education and activities. Over the past few years, Julia has taught yoga for children aged 5-8 at Bishop Druitt College as a volunteer.

katie

Katie Hein

Teacher

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.

karla

Karla Nightingale

Teacher

Karla completed her Bachelor of Education through the University of New England in 2008. Prior to attaining her degree, Karla worked in the field of Early Childhood for several years and has a Diploma in Child Services. She made the move from Early Childhood teaching to Primary Teaching in 2009.

Since then, Karla has taught at numerous schools in the region including several state schools as well as independent school, Bishop Druitt College. Karla continues to work regularly at BDC. Karla’s teaching experience covers students across all primary grades, with varying learning abilities. Her previous experience in Early Childhood has been beneficial in strengthening her ability to make meaningful connections with children and their families. Karla finds it extremely rewarding to see children make the transition from their early childhood background into primary education and she is passionate about supporting that educational and emotional transition.

After five years of full time teaching locally, in 2012 Karla took a break to start her own family. She has a young son and daughter and having spent most of her life in Coffs, looks forward to seeing her children grow up here. In 2016 she returned to the classroom to share her love of education and teaching with students. Currently, she combines her role at Serendipity Learning with casual teaching.

Karla embraces teaching as an opportunity to make a positive difference in children’s lives by inspiring their desire to learn. She aims to encourage all students to develop a positive attitude towards learning for their future within a secure, welcoming and fun environment. Karla strives to develop and implement teaching strategies that support all learning styles so that children can reach their full potential.

penelope

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

Emily Tamas

Teacher

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

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

Katie Dean

Teacher

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.

Erin

Erin Holliday

Teacher

Erin completed her teaching degree at Charles Sturt University, Bathurst in 2008, where she graduated with Honours. As part of her course, she undertook studies with children who had speech difficulties and her research involved the use of drawing as a non-verbal technique to assist these children in communicating.

Since completing her degree, Erin has worked both casually and permanently in Coffs Harbour, predominately at Coffs Harbour Christian Community School where her husband also teaches. She has experience of working with children in Early Childhood right through to High School, with most of her experience being with Middle Schoolers.

During her teaching career, Erin has worked closely with Gifted and Talented students and has been heavily involved in the Tournament of Minds Competition, where she has taken teams to State level many times. She has also been responsible for the organisation and implementation of Music Nights, Presentation Nights and fundraising projects such as ‘The 40 Hour Famine’.

Erin has a strong desire to see children from all walks of life succeed and develop a life-long love for learning. She has visited schools and orphanages in a number of places around the world and is passionate about providing quality education that meets the needs of every individual she meets. Her Diploma of Counselling, which she completed in 2013, has given her further insight into how she can nurture her students’ academic, social and emotional development.

Erin is married and has a 4-year old son and one-year old daughter. Since having her children she has also completed a graphic design course and has just recently launched her own part-time small business, Hello Coco Studio.

Lydia

Lydia Young

Teacher

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

Penny Dennis

Teacher

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

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.