Meet our team


Monique Hayes (4-year-old Group Teacher): I am excited to have joined the Ness Reserve team and community in 2019. I began teaching four years ago and have taught Kindergarten programs in Nillumbik and Boroondara. Before having my own children, I worked as a lawyer and in public policy, but I knew that I really wanted to be a teacher and I was lucky enough to make this career change with the support of my wonderful family. I have great respect for the incredible learning that takes place in early childhood and I consider it a privilege to be part of this journey with children and their families. I love the energy and creativity that children bring to their learning and I aim to foster and reflect this in my teaching. I am interested in finding out about anything and everything and I hope to inspire children to love learning as much as I do.
Melissa Carter (3-year-old Group Teacher): I started my teaching career at Challenger Street Preschool in 2000. In 2004 our kinder relocated to Ness Street and became known as Ness Reserve Pre-School. In my time at Ness I have taught both the 3- and 4-year-old groups, but since having my own children have primarily been the 3-year-old teacher.
I love helping the children settle into kinder and making their time with us very special and memorable. Having grown up in the area and now teaching at Ness, I love that I am constantly running into past and present families. I feel very lucky to have this extended contact with families and the opportunity to see my little kinder children all grown up! I love the small community feel of our kinder and it is great to see everyone working together to give our children the best possible start to their early education.
I have two daughters, Phoebe and Talia and twin boys, Ryan and Jacob who ensure a very busy, loud (but happy!) home life.
Julie Smith (4-year-old Group Teacher): Children at Kindergarten are full of wonder and curiosity! I have been qualified as a kinder teacher for 27 years, of which I have been teaching at Ness since 2011. During this time teaching kinder, I have really enjoyed being a part of the children’s world and being able to watch them grow and develop their own personalities. I love being able to spend time with the children at whatever experience they are at, talking and getting to know the children when they are relaxed and happy. I enjoy nurturing a love of the outdoors and nature in the children, bringing sustainable practices to their everyday experiences, to challenge their thinking and hopefully embed those skills and practices into their ways of being.
Ness Reserve has a warm and welcoming feel to it which makes it a nice place to work. Having such beautiful surroundings also helps! It is also a special place full of community spirit! The staff and parents genuinely work together for the benefit of the children, and are often there over many years which means you can really get to know people and children over a longer period of time. This includes when they are the younger siblings waiting for ‘their turn’ to attend kinder, or older siblings who have since gone on to school.
I enjoyed being involved in my children’s pre-school and primary school life over the years, and I have continued to support them into secondary school and beyond! I enjoy spending time in nature, in my own backyard, or in the high country, enjoying the river and bush surrounds. I appreciate time with friends, and I try to make time for cooking (and eating) and photography.
Fiona Smith (3-year-old Group Educator) I have been a kinder educator for 19 years, and I have been lucky to be an educator at Ness Reserve for the past 16 years! I absolutely adore working at Ness with a fantastic teaching team. Over those years, I have met some amazing families and as I live in Diamond Creek, I quite often run into past students who are always amazed that I can remember their names. I have a wonderful life that I share with my husband and three beautiful grown up sons. I am very excited about soon becoming a mother-in-law in Feb 2019. I love spending my down time reading and going to the gym, and also watching my favourite football team – Collingwood!
Charlotte Pratt (4-year-old Group Educator): I have worked for 13 years in the early childhood field, the last 7 as a co-educator at Ness Reserve. I love the terrific conversations I have with the children and getting to know all our families. I particularly like our friendly and welcoming atmosphere at Ness Reserve. In my free time I like reading, yoga and bushwalking.
Stacey Dabrowski (4-year-old Group Educator): I have worked at Ness from when I was on relieving staff and studying in 2015. I have been an at Ness since the beginning of 2017. I love meeting with, talking to, and getting to know all the children, families, siblings, and extended families. I get great enjoyment out of seeing the children progress in their development, and seeing the joy on the families’ faces when they see their children’s achievements!
If you love your job, it’s not work, and that definitely relates to me in my job. Every day is unique and comes with its different accomplishments and challenges, but there will no doubt always be children rushing in to tell you all about what they have been doing! I like that these chats will also come about with past and present families when I’m out and about in our community.
I have two beautiful children, Jamie and Jasmin, and I love spending time with them. I also enjoy walking our dog, Pippa.