McKenzie Centre - Realising a child's potential - Early intervention for children with special needs - Te Whare Awhina o nga Kohungahunga Haua

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Trisha Benge, Centre Director/OT
Role

Centre Director/OT

Qualification

NZROT

General Information

I trained as an Occupational Therapist and graduated in 1982. Since then I have been involved in working with children at Tokanui Hospital, Child Development Centre: Waikato Hospital, Conductive Education Unit: Hamilton and McKenzie Centre. I began at McKenzie Centre in July 1997 and worked as an OT until I took the position as Centre Director in August 2006.
I have had 3 trips to Ireland, the Mid West area, to train early intervention teams in using the transdisciplinary approach to early intervention.
In 2012 I completed a Graduate Diploma in Not for Profit Management at Unitec. In 2016 I completed the Community and Enterprise Leadership programme at Waikato University.

Estelle Pretorius, Speech Language Therapist
Role

Speech Language Therapist

Qualification

B Logopedics (University of Pretoria, SA, 1994) MSLT

General Information

I have been working at McKenzie Centre since 2007. I received my first qualification as Speech Language Therapist/Audiologist in 1994 at the University of Pretoria, South Africa and worked as SLT in community centres and specialist schools, both in South Africa and in England. New Zealand became my home in February 2007. I received a further qualification recently by completing a Master of Speech and Language Therapy with Distinction. Through my research I investigated the impact of parent training and coaching in the use of naturalistic instruction with young children on the Autism Spectrum. I love presenting, training and coaching families 1:1 in their natural environment. My skill set include knowledge and experience in early childhood autism and supporting families through Play Coaching, Hanen© parent workshops the DIR FloorTime© to name a few. I serve on the Professional Expert Group for Altogether Autism, NZ, which offers me opportunities for conversations with the broader Autism community. I fully endorse Family Capacity Building Practice and love the daily opportunities I get to interact with the children, and partnering with families around living and supporting their children with special needs.

Ruth Michels, Assistive Technology Specialist
Role

Assistive Technology Specialist

Qualification

Degree in Teaching (2014), PG Dip TESOL

General Information

I trained at Hamilton Teacher’s Training College and studied at Waikato University. I have developed a strong interest in maximising the learning and communication opportunities available for children with disabilities and so I was drawn to explore assistive technologies. I have eight years experience in the assessment and implementation of assistive technologies for learning and independence for preschool and school aged children. I’ve worked for a Waikato based charitable trust and latterly for the Ministry of Education-Special Education Services before coming to the McKenzie Centre.

Anita Churchill, Speech Language Therapist
Role

Speech Language Therapist

General Information

Hello, I’m Anita and I have been a Speech Language Therapist at McKenzie Centre since 2007. I really enjoy getting to know and working with children and their families and particularly enjoy seeing the gains they make in their development. As a Speech Therapist my main role is supporting a child’s development in areas such as speech, language, social communication skills and feeding.

Helen Gempton, Business Manager
Role

Business Manager

Qualification

LLB

General Information

Kia ora. I began as Business Manager at the McKenzie Centre in January 2011, and provide management and administration support to our early intervention team to enable them to continue their life-changing work with children and families. I am married to Brian and am the mother of two amazing young women. Our family first became involved with the McKenzie Centre in 1998, when our youngest daughter was diagnosed with a genetic condition and special needs. From 1999 - 2010, I was a member of the McKenzie Centre Trust. I have a background as a lawyer and, prior to coming to the McKenzie Centre, worked in the disability sector for a national family support and advocacy organisation. From personal experience, I understand the enormous value of early intervention and its ability to positively impact the life outcomes of children with special needs and their whānau. I feel privileged to now support that work on a daily basis.

Claire Hintz, Occupational Therapist
Role

Occupational Therapist

Qualification

NZROT

General Information

I completed my training as an Occupational Therapist in 1983. I have worked in a variety of settings since that time; at Community Health Service, Child Development Centre, Hillcrest High School and then coming to McKenzie Centre in April 1999.
Since being at McKenzie Centre I have had the opportunity to attend many valuable courses and notably attended a Bobath Neurodevelopmental Course in 2002.
McKenzie Centre is a rewarding and stimulating environment to work in, allowing opportunities to share in the success of a child achieving a skill- what could be greater!

Teresa Blake, Early Intervention Teacher
Role

Early Intervention Teacher

General Information

Hi, I am Teresa Blake and I have been working as an Early Intervention Teacher at McKenzie Centre since August 2007. I originally trained in Early Childhood and taught in kindergartens in both Hamilton and Tauranga. While my two children were young, I worked as an Education Support Worker for Ministry of Education, Group Special Education for seven years, so that I had the flexibility to be available for their school activities. While studying for the Diploma in Early Intervention which I gained in May 2008, I also worked at Conductive Education. I have a passion for children and have gained a variety of skills and knowledge during my teaching career.

Sue Scott, Physiotherapist
Role

Physiotherapist

General Information

I qualified in 1990 with a Diploma in Physiotherapy from Auckland and have worked in the Paediatric field since, both in the hospital setting and privately in Tauranga and Whakatane. I have been at McKenzie Centre since 2003 and really enjoy seeing the children progress (both big and little gains), and I love being the physiotherapist at McKenzie Centre.
When not working I’m busy caring for our three children (and husband) plus a “zoo” of animals at home, or maybe escaping to the beach.

Lillian Martin, Office Coordinator
Role

Office Coordinator

General Information

Hi, my name is Lillian Martin and I started in January 2009 as the part time Office Coordinator. I am married to Tony and we have two children who are adults now, one of whom has special needs. We came to McKenzie Centre when my son was young so I am very pleased to be able to come back now and share my skills. It’s also great to see the progress the children and families make while they’re here.

Richard Edghill, Pyschologist
Role

Pyschologist

General Information

Hello I trained as a clinical psychologist at Waikato University and qualified in the early 1990s. For 13 years I worked for the Behaviour Assessment Team of the Community Living Trust, where I worked to support people with an intellectual disability and their families. In the last six years I have been in private practice as a psychologist and work at Patricia Avenue Special School, and with adult services that support people with intellectual disabilities. I will be working 6 hours per week: most weeks I will be in on Wednesday and Friday mornings. I will also be available to do some home visits and visits to early childhood centres and schools.
I enjoy working with families and hearing their stories. I see my work at McKenzie Centre as a way of supporting families to find ways of enhancing their child’s life. I am looking forward to meeting you!

Suzanne Kok, Early Intervention Teacher, Social Worker
Role

Early Intervention Teacher, Social Worker

General Information

My name is Suzanne and I’ve been working for McKenzie Centre since July 2013. I’ve gained my Master’s Degree in Pedagogical studies in The Netherlands, which allowed me to register as an ECE Teacher and a Social Worker when I moved to New Zealand in 2011. In New Zealand, I’ve gained a Post Graduate Diploma in Specialist Teaching Early Intervention.
I love working for McKenzie Centre, there is no place like this anywhere in the world! The best part of my job is seeing, and being able to contribute to, families/whanau grow stronger and feeling better equipped about supporting their child with special needs in our community.

Stephanie Wacker, Early Intervention Teacher
Role

Early Intervention Teacher

General Information

My passion and joy is for tamariki with special needs and helping tamariki to be successful in their goals no matter how small.
I started working in the special education field as an Education Support Worker for the Ministry of Education in 2003. Following that I began working for the McKenzie Centre in 2005 until 2011. I took time away to complete my Bachelor of Teaching Early Childhood Education, graduating in 2012 as Outstanding Student Bachelor of Teaching Early Childhood Education.
I returned to McKenzie Centre to take up the position of Early Intervention in 2013 and completed my Post Graduate Diploma of Specialist Teaching (Early Intervention) in 2016.
I look forward to meeting and working with you and your whānau. I, myself, have two children Melanie and Harrison and a husband Robert, and look forward to building long term relationships with you all.

Jaime Campbell, Speech Language Therapist
Role

Speech Language Therapist

Qualification

Bachelor of Speech and Language Pathology (University of Canterbury 2017)

General Information

Hi, I’m Jaime and I am a Speech-Language therapist. I lived in Hawke’s Bay for 1.5 years working in a special school setting to support students, teachers and whānau with their communication. Working with children and their families is a passion of mine and I am excited to have returned to the McKenzie Centre where I completed my student placement in 2016.

Henny Kroese, Administration Support
Role

Administration Support

Email

admin@mckenziecentre.org.nz

General Information

Kia Ora, I started working part-time at McKenzie Centre in June 2019. I was born in the Netherlands and have lived in several different countries but moved to New Zealand with my husband in 1996. We have three sons who were all born in Hamilton. After working in a corporate environment for a few years I am enjoying the shift back to a community-based environment. I really admire all the work the staff do at the Centre and feel privileged to be a part of this great team. In my spare time I sing in a choir and enjoy reading, hiking and traveling.