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At Poppies, we recognise the importance of a supportive proficient conscious teaching team, committed to ongoing professional development. Considering their qualifications and teaching experience, the teachers at Poppies are carefully selected for their genuine warmth and passion, innovation, motivation and quality teaching practices.

In order to meet the needs of the individual child, the Poppies team are knowledgeable about human development and the early childhood curriculum, skilled at implementing it, thoughtful about what they do, aware of their roles as models for learning and willing to be flexible.

The teachers are dedicated to learning, both in their own personal and professional development and in gaining knowledge about each individual child. They are trained to meet the educational needs of each child lovingly and develop their strengths and interests, knowledge, skills and positive attitudes.

Poppies supports the staff by funding professional development and supporting the continuation of training which allows them to gain further knowledge and experience and higher Early Childhood qualifications if they wish. All teachers hold current first aid certificates."

Alex Ryan - Director

Originally born and educated in Jersey Channel Islands and the UK and having studied education, Alex travelled for a couple of years and settled in NZ in the mid 1980's.  She established Poppies officially in 1988 initially for her own sons and those of a few friends in the playroom of the large family home. Ten years later, Poppies had expanded and had ended up consuming a whole floor of the house. In 2000 Alex secured the site in Hapua St and excitedly commenced planning, designing and navigating her way through the vast red tape. Poppies moved into the current facility in 2004.  Alex hopes that her passion to offer and provide our young with fun, positive experiences in a rich learning environment is evident when you visit the Poppies setting, experience the atmosphere and become involved in the  programme. When Alex isn't attending to the needs of Poppies, she enjoys furthering her knowledge of psychology(recommended reading for new parents being 'Conscious Parenting' by Dr Shefali Tsabary), philosophy and human behaviour (ancient civilisations and quantum physics being her latest interest), and/or walking with her dogs. 

Karen Ogilvie

Karen Ogilvie - Head Teacher

Karen holds a BA in Music, a BEd in ECE and Post Grad Cert in Mentoring. Her early childhood experience includes 10 years teaching in a Montessori kindergarten followed by 2 years in a day care centre working with toddlers. 

For Karen, it is important to explore and support the child’s natural inquisitiveness by providing rich and rewarding learning experiences. Karen is very much a holistic teacher who aims to provide children with opportunities where they can learn to make good choices, to experiment, explore and to ask questions and be reflective thinkers.

Karen, mother of 6 adult children, has so much energy she has already completed several ultra-marathons, including the 100 Mile Endurance Run at Tarawera! When she isn’t running, she is often out cycling or at the gym, or playing piano which she also loves.  Karen also likes to spend time pottering in her garden and with her family.


Dandan Zhao

Dandan Zhao - Teacher

Dandan, originally from China, graduated from the University of East Anglia (UK) with a Master of Education in 2012. In order to follow her passion for teaching, she moved to NZ and enrolled to study Early Childhood Education with New Zealand Tertiary College in 2016. Having achieved her Post Graduate Diploma, Dandan taught in Auckland for a period before taking up a teaching position in a Montessori Pre-school in Queenstown for a year.

Dandan believes in supporting children to value their individuality and uniqueness. She is very excited about the NZ education system and is passionate at implementing the NZ early childhood curriculum – Te Whariki. Having grown up and been educated in China for the most part of her formative years she is incredibly grateful and happy to be living and teaching in NZ. 

Dandan enjoys yoga, traveling and baking.

Rosan Argao

Rosan Argao - Teacher Assistant

Rosan was born and raised in the Philippines.  Having completed a Degree in Tourism she worked in the Customer Service industry before following family to Australia in 2013. In Sydney she found her true passion working with children so here she completed a post graduate Diploma in Children's Services.

She has worked in the childcare industry for almost 5 years now.  Rosan considers working with children not a job, but a calling and is passionate about providing positive experiences for young children. 

Rosan appreciates the importance in maintaining good harmonious relationships with children , their families, colleagues and the community to support all children to reach their fullest potential. 

Rosan's interests include exploring nature and trail walking. 


Helen Morris - Teacher

Helen was born in England. At 8 years old, she moved to New Zealand with her native mother and twin sister. After completing her schooling, Helen travelled overseas, and took part in a volunteer programme in Costa Rica. She returned to NZ and was a private nanny for two years before realising that she would like to expand on her education and enthusiasm working alongside young children. Helen joined Poppies part time in 2010 whilst completing her degree. In 2013 Helen graduated from AUT with a Bachelor of Teaching ECE and became a fulltime qualified teacher at Poppies until she took maternity leave in 2017 to have her first bonny baby - Max. Helen has been part time back at Poppies since mid 2018. 

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Our aim at Poppies is to offer young children a high quality introduction to a successful life of learning.

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