Our Teachers

Debra Avery

School Principal

Formal Qualifications

  • Diploma of Teaching
  • Bachelor of Education
  • Montessori Diploma (Hons)
  • Diploma of Education (Montessori)
  • Diploma of Early Education & Primary Education (Montessori)
  • NESA Teacher Accreditation

Years In Cameragal, and in education in general

Commenced role as principal at Cameragal in 2022. Prior to this I had a variety of leadership roles in Montessori schools and education across Australia for over 30 years.

What is the most rewarding part of education for you

Seeing the smile on a student’s face when they succeed in mastering a new skill. To be part of that learning journey is always a privilege.

What drives you to be a better educator?

I am always striving to improve educational outcomes for all students and meet their individual learning needs.

What do you most enjoy in your personal time?

Time spent with family, friends, horses, gardening and restoring furniture.

Peta Gibson

Director 0-3 Infant Program

Formal Qualifications

  • AMI Birth to Three Diploma
  • Pikler Pedadgogue Candidate – Pikler Institute Budapest

Other related training

  • AMI Birth to Three Orientation
  • AMI 3 to 6 Orientation
  • AMI 6 to 12 Orientation
  • RIE Foundations Training – RIE Centre Los Angeles
  • Holistic Sleep Coaching and Baby Sleep Consultant training
  • Potty Training Consultant training
  • Baby Calm, Toddler Calm and Baby Led Weaning – Cambridge UK
  • Australian Doula College

How many years have you spent at Cameragal, and in education in general?

I have had the absolute pleasure of working in the Cameragal Playroom since July 2014.  Before then I spent 9 years working in under three’s at the Inner Sydney Montessori School.

What is the most rewarding part of teaching for you?

Babies and toddlers grow and develop more in the first three years of life than at any other time.  I love helping families understand the importance this period and the crucial role they play in supporting their child’s development.

What drives you to be a better teacher?

I am passionate about learning all that I can about babies and toddlers and sharing this knowledge with families. I just love it when I can see in the playroom that a parent is really starting to observe their child and see the world from their child’s point of view.  Once we see how brilliant and amazing babies and toddlers are, the more we enjoy living life alongside them.

What do you most enjoy in your personal time?

Being the Mum of 5 I haven’t had that much personal time in the last 20 years but I do love discovering new toys for the playroom, interior design, test cricket, skiing with my family, long walks with my dog and the Sydney Swans.

Parrish Khalili

Lead Teacher 3-6 Mimi's

Formal Qualifications

  • Bachelor Of Teaching In Early Childhood
  • Montessori diploma for 3-6 Year Olds.
  • NESA Teacher Accreditation

How many years have you spent at Cameragal, and in education in general?

I have been teaching since 1992 for about 31 years starting in Chicago and then in Sydney Australia. I have had the privilege of teaching at Cameragal Montessori School for the past 12 years. In 2016, I received an ASG NEiTA Inspirational Educator State and Territory Award for Excellence in Teaching.

What is the most rewarding part of teaching for you?

I thoroughly enjoy working with young children helping them realise their potential. I enjoy making a difference in the lives of young children and their families.  

What drives you to be a better teacher?

I have experienced how positive teacher-student relationships can change children’s attitude towards learning, and motivates them to become independant thinkers, decision-makers, and learners.

What do you most enjoy in your personal time?

I enjoy reading and spending time with my family. I also enjoy travelling meeting new people and experiencing new cultures.

Fiona Mackenzie

Lead Teacher 9-12

Formal Qualifications:

  • Royal Schools of Music Grade 8 practical piano 1974
  • Teaching Certificate NZ 1978
  • AMI Montessori Elementary (6-12 year olds) Teaching Diploma 2003
  • B.A. Communications UTS (Sound and Radio major) 1992
  • Masters in Creative Writing, UTS 2020
  • NESA Teacher Accreditation

How many years have you spent at Cameragal, and in education in general?

  • I’m in my 3rd year at Cameragal Montessori School – Cycle 3 classroom
  • 15 years Montessori East, Bondi 2004- 2018 – Cycle 3 classroom
  • 2 years Alexandria School, Sydney
  • 1 year Tutoring at UTS – technical assistance and tutorials
  • 5 years teaching in NZ I’ve spent about 25 years altogether in education and 6 or 7 years in closely related areas working with students.

What is the most rewarding part of teaching for you?

I love the interactions with students and being able to observe and guide their social and academic development, especially in the Montessori environment.

What drives you to be a better teacher?

  • My love of learning and the children’s enthusiasm for learning.
    My interest and training in the teaching of writing inspires me to inspire others to gain writing skills and ultimately a love of writing.

What do you most enjoy in your personal time?

I love having dinners with friends and family, spoiling my cat, playing the piano, swimming, cycling, body surfing and I surf on a board occasionally, just to prove I can still do it!

Robyn Reeve

Lead Teacher 3-6 Tiddalicks

Formal qualifications:

  • Diploma of Montessori Education
  • Graduate Diploma of Early Childhood Education
  • NESA Teacher Accreditation

How many years have you spent at Cameragal, and in education in general?

  • 11 and a half years at Lavender Bay Campus as the Directress
  • Had a break from teaching and was involved as a parent at Cameragal when my 2 daughters attended the Forsyth Park Campus
  • 18 years teaching at Montessori

What is the most rewarding part of teaching for you?

Getting to experience things with the children for the first time and getting the opportunity to make a difference in the way a child approaches learning for life.

What drives you to be a better teacher?

You have to be passionate about what you do, or you will not enjoy it. “The only way to do great work is to love what you do” (Steve Jobs). ”

What do you most enjoy in your personal time?

I’m an avid cyclist in my spare time. The highlight being riding the last 10 stages of the 2017 Tour de France with a charity group! When not cycling I enjoy needlework embroidery, welding and reading.

Julia Jeong

Lead Teacher 3-6 Pademelons

Formal qualifications:

  • AMI 3-6 Diploma
  • AMI 3-6 Orientation Course
  • AMI 6-12 Orientation Course
  • Master of Teaching in Early Years
  • Bachelor of English Language and Literature with High school teacher qualification

How many years have you spent at Cameragal, and in education in general?

I joined Cameragal Montessori in 2021 and have worked in other Montessori centres in Sydney for ten years and in other educational settings in South Korea for seven years.

What is the most rewarding part of teaching for you?

I enjoy watching children gaining confidence and independence over time and developing day by day. I absolutely enjoy the fact that I am working as a part of this miraculous process.

What drives you to be a better teacher?

The trust from children and parents empowers me to be a better teacher.

What do you most enjoy in your personal time?

I enjoy yoga, personal development and pursuing a healthy lifestyle.

Trish Terrey

Formal qualifications:

  • Graduate Diploma of Education (Primary), Monash University
  • 6-12 Elementary Diploma, Association Montessori Internationale
  • Bachelor of Fine Arts (Hons), University of NSW

How many years have you spent at Cameragal, and in education in general?

  • 4 years at Cameragal (since 2018)
  • 14 years in education in general

What is the most rewarding part of teaching for you?

There are many rewarding elements to teaching and I feel incredibly privileged to be part of every child’s unique educational journey.

It’s hard to pin down just one, however, I love witnessing those precious sparks of curiosity that light up in children as they discover a new concept or connection. Being trusted with the great task of nurturing and tending to each of these sparks, encouraging children to explore further and embrace the challenges they will inevitably encounter on the way, is both an exciting and humbling journey. Often the light of their own curiosity and work will illuminate the path for their peers and when this happens, it is quite simply magical to observe.

What drives you to be a better teacher?

Children inspire me every day to keep learning, think differently and reflect more. What drives me to be a better teacher is always appreciating that our children are the most valuable key to the future of humanity and our world. They hold the promise of a peaceful, thriving and sustainable world and it is our responsibility as adults and educators to provide children with a nurturing environment that both honours their individual journeys and supports this promise.

Knowing that we have the means to model and cultivate an environment of respect, collaboration and compassion for each other is always motivating. We all thrive on connection and the shared experience. It’s what helps us grow as individuals and genuinely contribute to our community. I am always humbled by the thought that I can contribute to children living meaningful, fulfilled and happy lives.

What do you most enjoy in your personal time?

I cherish spending uninterrupted time with my family and friends. I also love going to museums, galleries and the theatre, travelling to new places, exercising regularly and spending time outdoors.