Our People

Norma Panagakos

Executive Director and Founder

Norma is the Founding Principal of New Horizons Preschool.

Norma has over 20 years’ experience working in the Early Childhood Education and Care sector in Tasmania. She has a Master of Teaching from the University of Tasmania and has been on her exciting journey of collaborating with children and families for over 20 years.

Norma established New Horizons Preschool in 2004 as a small home-based service operating 3 mornings per week. In 2006 she opened the Lenah Valley campus to create a preschool setting centred on a strong ‘image of child’, relationships, collaborative approaches, active participation, and The Hundred Languages of children.

Norma was part of the Australian contingent on the Reggio Emilia International Study Tour in 2016, where she drew further inspiration to open the Battery Point Campus in 2017, ultimately achieving her vision to create an innovative and progressive preschool inspired by the Reggio Emilia Educational Project. Establishment of the Battery Point campus, with its unique and intentionally designed Atelier studios, introduced a new and unprecedented concept to Tasmanian early years education.

Norma is a passionate advocate for early childhood education and for children’s participatory rights in both schools and the wider community. She has a keen interest in engaging and collaborating with others to continue influencing and inspiring children’s learning and wellbeing within Tasmania. Norma’s mission is to re-imagine the rich possibilities for early years education to create dynamic, inspirational and inclusive learning spaces which support a rich culture of participation, where all children are supported and empowered along their individual journeys of life long learning.

At the end of the 2021 school year, Norma had the pleasure of announcing that Lou Kirkwood would take on her leadership role as Principal, with overall responsibility for the daily operation of New Horizons; and continuing to provide leadership in relation to the Preschool’s philosophy, teaching and learning.

2022 Open Letter

Lou Kirkwood

Principal & Educational Leader

Lou has over 20 years’ experience working in Early Education in Tasmania and overseas. She has a Bachelor of Arts, Diploma of Education and a Graduate Certificate in Education from the University of Tasmania. In 2011 Lou was a delegate on the International Study Tour to Reggio Emilia and she was awarded one of five REAIE Professional Development Scholarships in 2016.

Lou has several published articles and co-authored a book chapter on Early Childhood Education, The Reggio Emilia Approach and Inquiry Projects.  She has co-authored and conducted professional learning sessions for New Horizons Preschool, along with other professional learning events for Reggio Emilia Information Exchange, Australia.

Lou is continually influenced and challenged by the Reggio Emilia Educational Project. She is passionate about democratic classrooms, the pedagogy of listening and inquiry approaches. Lou is inspired by democratic models of education and is an advocate for collaborative dialogue with staff, children, families and the community. She is committed to inclusive education, where all children are respected, have participatory rights and are considered competent.

Pedagogical Coordinating Team

Chelsea Ryan

Educator & Mentor – Battery Point Campus

Chelsea joined the New Horizons team in early 2017, she completed a Bachelor of Primary Teaching, Sport and Outdoor Recreation at Monash University. In 2017 Chelsea completed her Graduate Certificate in Early Years Education and Care with Griffith University. Chelsea has over 13 years’ experience and has held numerous roles within Early Childhood Education.

Chelsea has been inspired and provoked by the many challenges that the Reggio Emilia Educational Project offers to educators. She is passionate about fostering children’s abilities to become active and participatory citizens, both now and for the future. Chelsea places great significance on the theory of The Hundred Languages and is committed to providing a range of experiences and opportunities for children to express their voices and theories in a multiplicity of ways.

Meredith Geeves

Educator & Mentor – Battery Point Campus

Meredith has over 17 years’ experience working in Early Education and Care and joined New Horizons Preschool in 2015. She has a Bachelor of Arts, Masters of Teaching and Graduate Certificate in Early Childhood Education and Care.

The Reggio Emilia Educational Project has inspired Meredith to work alongside children as citizens of the present and active protagonists of their learning. She is committed to empowering children to engage in learning through inquiry-based pedagogies and co-researching with children to embrace a world of possibilities.

Meredith is delighted to be experiencing her pedagogical journey with New Horizons Preschool.

Rhiannon Patterson

Educator & Mentor – Battery Point Campus

Rhiannon has worked with children, families and the community in several different professional capacities during her career. She is in the final stages of her Bachelor of Education (Early Childhood), and has completed her Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care, Dip Business and a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment.

Rhiannon is passionate about bush kindergarten programs, touring several Forest Schools in Germany in 2018, and has  a strong commitment towards learning on country and reconciliation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Rhiannon began working at New Horizons in 2021. She is a passionate co-researcher and learner alongside the children.

In her spare time, Rhiannon enjoys bike riding, bushwalking and gardening.

Olivia Legge

Educator & Mentor – Battery Point Campus

Olivia joined the New Horizons Team at the end of 2018. She has over 11 years’ experience working in Early Childhood Education. 

Olivia has a Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care and is currently enrolled in a Bachelor of Early Childhood Education with the University of Tasmania. She is embracing learning more about the Reggio Emilia Educational Approach alongside the New Horizons Team. 

Olivia is passionate about the pedagogy of listening and values strongly children’s voices, opinions and theories. She regards children as capable and competent learners, with reciprocal rights as active and participatory citizens. 

Olivia enjoys working alongside the staff, families and children to build resilience, independence and positive relationships. She values the Hundred Languages and is adept at using multi-media platforms to support children’s interest in digital technologies. 

Leah Ryan

Educator & Mentor – Battery Point Campus

Leah is the newest member of the New Horizons, joining the Lenah Valley Team in 2021. She is a qualified primary school teacher with 7 years of experience across a variety of learning environments. Leah is currently furthering her studies, specifically in Early Childhood Education with Griffiths University.

Leah is passionate about fostering a warm and welcoming environment, where children are encouraged to express themselves, feel connected and forever be curious about the world around them.

She loves time in nature, being creative and spending time with family and friends. Leah is excited to become part of the community at New Horizons Preschool and is looking forward to the coming year.

Kristy Sumpton

Educator & Mentor – Battery Point Campus

Kristy has been working in Early Childhood Education for over 10 years, joining New Horizons Preschool in 2016. She has worked within a variety of settings and with different ages of children, ranging from birth to five years. 

Kristy holds a Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care and is undertaking her Diploma in Children’s Services.

Having worked with other educational frameworks, Kristy is an advocate for and passionate about the Reggio Emilia Educational Project. She is enthusiastic about co-researching alongside staff and children. 

Kristy is passionate about developing relationships with the children and families to enable a collaborative and nurturing learning environment.

Meg Barwick

Educator & Mentor – Battery Point Campus
[Maternity Leave 2022]

Meg joined the New Horizons team in mid 2019, she has completed a Bachelor of Primary Teaching from Flinders University in Adelaide. She graduated from Griffiths University in 2020 with a Graduate Certificate in Early Years Education and Care. Before her career in teaching Meg completed a Diploma of Outdoor Education and worked with children in this field for 7 years. As a result of this she is passionate about exploring the outdoor environment and understands the many benefits of the outdoors and nature play for children.

Meg is excited about the prospect that inquiry journeys bring and recognises that children and educators are co-researchers, working alongside each other. She believes that each child is competent and full of knowledge, bringing different theories and understanding to a classroom context. Meg recognises children as capable citizens, each of whom communicate their own extraordinary understanding of the world through the Hundred Languages. She has a calm and caring nature and is adept at creating a harmonious classroom environment.

Anna Hall

Educator & Mentor – Battery Point Campus
[Maternity Leave 2022]

Anna has a Certificate III and Diploma in Early Childhood Education and Care. She has 10 years’ experience working in Early Childhood Education and is a full-time educator at the Battery Point campus, joining the New Horizons Team in 2017.

Anna is passionate about and skilled in creating beautiful and welcoming learning environments which engage and provoke the children. She is inspired by art, design and architecture.

Anna believes that multiple languages have a powerful, expressive capacity for children to express their theories and understandings of the world and that the atelier, or art space, is a place to develop aesthetic research.  She is also interested in utilising digital technologies to exhibit the children’s wonderings, thoughts and learning journeys.

Jo Gutierrez

Educator & Mentor – Lenah Valley Campus

Jo has been part of the dedicated team of educators at New Horizons Preschool for the past 9 years. She has a Bachelor of Art Education and a Bachelor of Design from the UNSW College of Fine Arts. Jo has worked in multiple roles as an Early Childhood Educator, Secondary School Visual Art Teacher, Graphic and Object Designer and Atelierista.

Jo is currently completing her Graduate Certificate in Early Childhood Education and Care. She is committed to supporting children and providing opportunities for them to express their ideas and explore a variety of art media.

Jo is passionate about the language of creative arts, creating pathways for educators and children to connect, whilst fostering artistic and imaginative thinking. She is committed to honouring The Hundred Languages and she feels privileged to be able to collaborate with and learn from her fellow researchers, designers and artists; the children.

Anna Moshovakos

Educator & Mentor – Lenah Valley Campus

Anna has had over 20 years’ experience as an Early Childhood educator in Melbourne and Hobart. She completed her Diploma in Centre based Care and Outside of School Hours Care in 1998, through TAFE Tasmania.

She joined New Horizons Preschool (Lenah Valley) as an educator in 2009, leaving in 2014 to run her family business. In 2017 Anna re-joined the New Horizons family.

Anna believes that every child is unique, and everyone’s educational journey is different. Through developing a strong sense of belonging, enhancing self-esteem and building self-confidence, each child begins to realise their potential. Anna considers that every child’s sense of curiosity and creativity is essential for them to thrive as individual learners. As educators, our role is to respect, support and embrace each child’s journey.

Anna is passionate about working alongside other educators to further enhance and build strong positive relationships and interactions between children, staff and families.

Annie Newman

Educator
[Maternity Leave April 2022]

Annie has been a part of the New Horizons team since 2020. She has undertaken her first year of Primary Education and deferred to pursue her other passion, Graphic Design. Annie’s growth and experiences over the last few years have brought her interest back towards early childhood education and the Reggio Emilia Educational Approach. Annie is currently undertaking her Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care and is eager to further her studies in education. 

Growing up in rural Tasmania, Annie has developed an eager desire to lead a creative and thoughtful life. Through respect, listening and support, Annie believes that children can be given the environment needed to gain further understanding of their true selves and their capabilities. 

Demi Williams

Educator

Demi has recently joined the New Horizons Team and is currently completing her Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care this year. Demi is interested in pursuing a career in Pediatric Nursing. Demi is passionate about helping others, and also holds a Certificate III in Individual Support in Aged Care. 

Demi is looking forward to commencing her education and care journey with New Horizons Preschool, and is eager to learn more about the Reggio Emilia Educational Approach. She admires the way educators work alongside the children and approach the learning inquiries with respect. 

Ellie Ferguson

Educator

Ellie joined New Horizons Preschool in 2018. She has a Certificate III and Diploma in Early Childhood Education and Care and has over 12 years’ experience working with young children.

Ellie continues to be inspired with the values and principles of the Reggio Emilia Educational Approach, and incorporating these into her pedagogical thinking and practice.

Ellie possesses a caring nature and an innate ability to connect with families and children. She is passionate about working alongside the children and advocating for their voices to be valued and heard within the wider community.

Ellie is interested in fostering independence and resilience in children, through supportive and positive relationships.

Elissa Ritson

Educator

Elissa is primarily an artist and educator, and has been working in early education for the past few years as well as having over a decade of studio and exhibition practice. They hold a Bachelor of Fine Arts, a Certificate III in Early Childhood Care and Education, and are currently undertaking postgraduate studies in Writing and Literature. 

Elissa is excited to be joining the New Horizons team in 2022 as the Reggio Emilia philosophy connects to their core values as an educator, parent, artist, and community member. In particular the image of the child as an active agent in their world, and the predisposition towards collaboration and educational research. 

As a relationship driven person, Elissa is passionate about relational dynamics and emotional development in children. Other passions include performance, movement, and storytelling through creative practice. Elissa cares deeply about creating transformative political change, particularly in relation to climate and social wellbeing. They believe listening to children is critical to this process. 

Evie Oates

Educator

Evie recently completed her Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care and has worked in a number of Early Childhood settings. She joined the New Horizons Battery Point team in 2020 and is looking forward to joining the Lenah Valley Team in 2021.

Evie is currently completing her degree in Early Childhood and Primary Education with Swinburne University. She is looking to further her career in education. Evie loves the creative, competent and curious nature that children bring to New Horizons. She is keen to research further into creative arts and The Hundred Languages of expression.

Evie is passionate about the outdoors and exploring the beauty of Tasmania. She is keen to share these experiences with the children and families with whom she works alongside.

Indirah Dahal

Educator

Indi started working as a full time educator at New Horizons in June 2021. She has completed her Diploma in Early Childhood Education and is drawn to creativity and caring for children. She is a patient person by nature which emphasises her ability to manage a variety of classroom situations calmly. As well as being a good listener, she is also a good communicator.

Growing up in Nepal, Indi is familiar with Asian culture and loves celebrating diversity and individual differences. She is keen to share her knowledge about different cultures, values and the geography of Asia with children.

Indi believes in the Reggio Emilia Approach, where children express themselves through the Hundred Languages and develop their own distinct, individual personalities during their formative early years.

Julian Clarke

Educator

Julian is one of the newest members of the New Horizons team, joining in early 2022. With ample experience working in primary schools as a teacher assistant, Julian has now commenced his study to complete a Certificate III in Early Childhood Education. He is also studying a Bachelor of Arts part-time at the University of Tasmania.

Julian is passionate about progressive education practices and student-led inquiry, aligning well with the values of the Reggio Emilia approach. His lifelong fascination with music and the arts has made him particularly keen to explore these creative worlds alongside the children.

Coming from a family/social environment with a strong emphasis on universal education and equality of access, Julian values constructive, collaborative, and equitable relationships in all aspects of life. He believes in the profound importance of children’s perspectives on the world.

Kika Moutsatsos

Educator

Kika joined the New Horizons Team in 2018 and has been collaborating with staff and children at both our Battery Point and Lenah Valley campuses. 

Kika is passionate about the Performing Arts and has been dancing since she was 3 years old. She values the central role which dance and movement offer children, enabling opportunities for expressing ideas and theories through physical languages. 

Kika completed her Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care in 2020 and has graduated from a Bachelor of Justice Studies at the University of Tasmania. Kika is now commencing her Master of Teaching.

Kika is excited about the next stage of her educational journey and future in teaching. 

Luci Giudici

Educator

Luci joined the New Horizons Team at the end of 2020. She is undertaking her Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care this year. Luci is interested in pursuing a career in Outdoor Education or in Allied Health, such as Paramedicine. 

Luci is keen to learn more about the Reggio Emilia Educational Approach and she enjoys working alongside the supportive and inspiring staff and children at New Horizons. 

Going to a Quaker school, Luci understands the importance of supporting diversity and creating positive, trusting and caring relationships with all. She adores listening to the children’s values and views on the world around them, free of judgement. Luci aims to create a safe and supportive environment for the children and their individual needs.

Mem Thorpe

Educator

Mem has been a part of the New Horizons team since 2019. She has completed her Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care and is currently undergoing her Diploma of Early Childhood Education and care . Mem is also studying online at Melbourne University completing a bachelor of arts degree. 

Mem is keen to learn more about the Reggio Emilia Educational Approach and she has enjoyed working alongside the creative staff and children at New Horizons. She has a keen interest in music and is excited to engage the children with this creative language. 

With a family history of education behind her, Mem understands the importance of creating positive, caring relationships with others. She adores listening to the children’s ideas and theories on the world around them.

With a family history of education behind her, Mem understands the importance of creating positive, caring relationships with others. She adores listening to the children’s ideas and theories on the world around them.

Oly Kostoglou

Educator

Oly began her journey at the New Horizons Battery Point campus in 2019, where she promptly began her Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care. Oly has since completed her Certificate III and is now enrolled in a Bachelor of Education (Early Years) through the University of Tasmania. She is excited to spend this year strengthening new and existing relationships with the team and children.

Oly is passionate about building strong reciprocal relationships with the children she collaborates alongside. She is a talented photographer and enjoys documenting the children’s inquiry processes through digital media.  

Oly is keen to examine the many possibilities that digital media can offer children, and willingly explores their use in new and interesting ways. 

Pearl Bamford

Educator

Pearl joined the New Horizons team in 2022, and is currently undertaking a Certificate III in Early Childhood  Education and Care, alongside a Bachelor of Psychological Science. She is looking forward to combining her work and study into a career in Educational Psychology. 

Pearl is excited to build respectful relationships with the children, taking an understanding of the children as capable, curious and full of knowledge from the Reggio Emilia approach. 

Pearl is passionate about empowering the children to get involved in the wider community. Being a lover of Tasmania’s wild nature, she is keen to share that with the children she works alongside, through walks and exploration. 

Rachel Payne

Educator

Rachel has been an Early Childhood educator at New Horizons Preschool for 10 years, joining the team in 2011. She has a Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care, with rich and varied experiences working with young children. 

Rachel enjoys working alongside the creative staff and children at New Horizons. She is inspired by children’s honest and authentic perspectives on the world, their ability to marvel and wonder, and their joy of learning. 

Rachel is passionate about creating positive, caring relationships with families and children and has a strong image of a competent child. Rachel is passionate about creating positive, caring relationships with families and children and has a strong image of a competent child.

Sabina Thapa

Educator

Sabina is currently undertaking her Diploma in Early Childhood Education, and came to New Horizons to complete her placement. She is now a part of the New Horizons team and is looking forward to commencing her journey with inquiry work and the Reggio Emilia Educational Approach. 

Sabina worked in an Early Childhood Education setting in Nepal for 5 years before moving to Australia. She values working at New Horizons as it provides a sense of community and provides respectful environments for educators, children and families. 

Theresa Fiotakis

Educator

Theresa has been working in Early Childhood Education for 11 years, recently joining New Horizons Preschool in 2022. Theresa holds a Certificate III and Diploma in Early Childhood Education and Care and has worked within a variety of settings and with different ages of children ranging from birth to five years. 

Theresa is passionate about working with children and building valued, supportive and positive relationships with the children and their families. Theresa has an awareness of the Reggio Emilia approach and is passionate about extending her learning and understanding to enhance her knowledge.

Nick Panagakos

Building Management and Maintenance

Description provided by the children:

Nick is a person who fixes stuff. He is always friendly and kind to other people. Nick is special because he is a very nice person and he is a builder for New Horizons. Nick builds stuff and he takes out the rubbish bin. When he is fixing things, he fixes them up again and again. If something is broken then he will go and fix it. When he has fixed it he can say ‘it should be okay for the children now.’

Nick is also the boss and he makes people happy by fixing things. He is always a nice person.

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