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Meet the Team

Dedicated and Certified


Petra Angpao Durrance

Owner / Directress

Petra is an Early Childhood Educator with ECE, ITE and Montessori Certification and some Waldorf experience. She is also a registered nurse who has worked with infants, toddlers, and children since the age of 12 when she took care of the babies in the orphanage where she grew up in the Northern Philippines. 


As co-founder of the Canadian charity International Association for Transformation (IAT), she has overseen the establishment of Montessori-based daycares in several remote mountain villages in the Philippines, has held numerous mother’s classes and seminars and trained ECE teachers in the Philippines for IAT


Gloria Dyer

Starchild Manager, Mill Bay

Gloria moved from Ontario in 2011, where she was welcomed into the Starchild family with only a small number of children then. She is an Early Childhood Educator qualified for special needs with over 30 years of experience. From her time at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto as a play therapist, she brings her passion of using puppetry to help children connect with the world around them, through music and movement, dancing, singing, and behavior where her puppets also show how to share, take turns, use gentle hands, and much more.


Now in her “golden years”, Gloria enjoys interacting with staff (who she often refer to as “the Dream Team”), parents, and most of all, the children. She and her family also sponsor a child in the Philippines through the Durrances’ non-profit, IAT.


Val Rutherford

Teacher, Shawnigan Lake

Val has been looking after children since she was 10 years old, and has raised her 3 children as a single mother. She is a qualified early childhood educator.  Val ran an in-home daycare for 4 years, has worked in numerous daycares on the mainland, and was a supervisor in 2 preschools.  

Val's passion has always been to be around young children to nurture and teach them any way she can.


Maritess Nuneza

Teacher, Mill Bay

Marites hails from the Philippines and joined Starchild Centres in 2018 as the Montessori Teacher of the nature-based class for children 2 ½ to 5 years old. She completed her Montessori certificate from the Montessori teacher Preparation of the US and has earned her Master’s in Education in Early Childhood Education in the Philippines. She has been teaching and living the Montessori way for the past 14 years, which has brought her whole family to Canada. 


Marites is passionate in bringing Montessori inside and outside the classroom on nature, which is the child’s ideal sensorial experience and holistic development.


Kristi Vihman

Teacher, Shawnigan Lake

Kristi graduated as a Kindergarten teacher from Estonia and is qualified to work with children ages 0 to 7 years old. She’s an Early Childhood Educator with ECE and ITE qualifications.

She was born when her home country was occupied by Soviet Russia and has always been a hard worker. She gained her Kindergarten Diploma and made her dreams come true traveling the world. She worked her way up to caring for children in New Zealand, UK and is now enjoying all that beautiful Canada and Vancouver Island have to offer.

Kristi is proactive with her teaching methods and with little guidance on behaviour at times to prepare the children for the future.


Ayesha Nisar

Teacher, Mill Bay

Ayesha has completed her studies from Pakistan and worked as Kindergarten teacher in Saudi Arabia for 8 years. Ayesha Joined Starchild in 2022 and is working with Infants Toddlers. She is ECEA certified and working to get ECE certification. As she has experience to manage cultural diversity in the workplace, she applies her strategies to deal with the kids according to their individual personalities.

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Wendy Hao

Teacher, Mill Bay

Before moving to Canada in 2015, Wendy grew up in China and graduated from the Xi’an University of Technology. She has completed the Early Childhood Education and Care diploma at Vancouver Island University with Early Childhood Educator, Infant and Toddlers, and Special Need Certificates.


Wendy enjoys hiking, watercolor painting or doing woodwork with hand tools. She and her son like to make spoons, crafts, and toys at home.

Wendy realized her heart was in working with children. She is passionate about helping children achieve full growth potential by enhancing and nurturing their innate curiosity and imagination based on a combination of child-centered, hands-on experiences and the enchanting
power of story.

Everyday Wendy feels grateful for the opportunity to be part of the Starchild team and to participate in children's learning journeys.


Daniel Blase

Teacher, Mill Bay

Dan has lived in Shawnigan Lake most of his life. He enjoys the close connections that come with being part of a smaller community.


Dan has graduated his basic ECE diploma with Pacific Rim Early Childhood Institute, Inc. and is going back for his Infant Toddler and Special Needs certificates. He likes the outdoors and doing stencil arts, both privately and to make things for the classroom. "Something made with love is always better than something bought."


Karlyn Blase

Teacher, Shawnigan Lake

Karlyn is from Bowmanville, Ontario and moved to Shawnigan Lake, BC in June 2023. Karlyn started working for Starchild in July 2023.


Karlyn has worked in childcare for over 5 years with most of her experience in infant and toddler. She is very calm and nurturing towards all the children that are in her care. Karlyn looks forward to working with your children and helping them grow and develop.


Katrina Jolejole

Teacher, Shawnigan Lake

Trina moved to the island from the Philippines. She graduated with a degree in Human Ecology, major in Human & Family Development Studies, and minor in Early Childhood Education from the University of the Philippines. Before working at Starchild, she taught preschool and undergraduate levels in the university as well.

As a human ecologist, she is a believer of the inborn ability of children to learn on their own especially in an environment that is happy, safe, and nurturing with continuous guidance. Exposing children to the outdoors is important for her because they not only allow children to feel more in touch with nature, but also with themselves. Trina believes that children are like flowers. That’s why she strives to deliver care that allows them to bloom at their own pace and time. Trina believes that teaching and being a good example of kindness, compassion and respect should always come first. 


Marie Kris Pacuribot

Teacher, Mill Bay and Shawnigan Lake

Kris was born and raised in the Philippines. She obtained a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Our Lady of Fatima University. She began teaching when their family relocated to Brunei, where she received the NCFE CACHE Level 3 Diploma for Early Years Workforce (Early Years Educator) from International School Brunei. She has spent a decade working with children and supporting those with special needs.


She is a passionate early childhood educator with extensive experience working with children to help them develop academic and non-academic skills. Commitment to making a
difference and promoting students' well-being in order for them to reach their greatest potential. To bring out the importance of parents in supporting their children's learning and shaping their daily lives. She also emphasizes the significance of having a positive environment to stimulate young minds and build their values.

Furthermore, she believed that Reggio Emilia and the Montessori approach were beneficial

approaches for young children's education.


Leah Natanauan

Teacher, Mill Bay and Shawnigan Lake

Leah graduated as an Elementary teacher and took specialization in Early Childhood Education in the Philippines. She worked with children in her home country and continued her passion in United Arab Emirates for 10 years. She recently accepted the opportunity here in Canada and started pursuing her ECE courses. 

Leah loves to learn different cultures, respects each child's unique abilities and believes in the importance of play, hands-on experiences and interactions in learning. She also believes that incorporating nature in the ECE curriculum fosters their appreciation of the natural world and that it is essential for children's overall well-being.


David Durrance

Owner / Director

David is a retired secondary school teacher, Montessori certified, and the CEO of the International Association for Transformation (IAT), a Victoria-based charitable organization he co-founded 42 years ago. He has been involved in youth education and leadership training, agricultural, reforestation and community development programs for more than 60 years.


David’s focus is upon maintaining the buildings, orchards, and grounds of the two Starchild facilities, as well as assisting the staff members with the children’s gardening, exposure to the animals, nature walks and other outside projects and activities.

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