top of page

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.


Stephanie Henriksen

Teacher, Mill Bay

Stephanie has always had a love for helping children to learn and grow. In 2007, she began working in a daycare centre with children ages 2½ -5 years old. In 2010 she completed the ECE program at Camosun College.


Stephanie believes that all children learn through play; that play is the basis for learning social skills, personal interests, developing personalities, imagination, and creativity. Play is a way to try new things, to try new roles, to find your likes and dislikes, to bring your imagination to life, a way to learn how to make friends, and so much more. Stephanie looks forward to meeting you and your family at Starchild.


Diana Lindley

Administration / Garden Program

Diana joined the team at Starchild Centres to provide administrative support and assist with the coordination/ facilitation of the Garden
Program. She is the mother of one daughter. Although her primary role is with Starchild Operations and Gardening,  Diana is actively pursuing her ECE designation.  She has many years experience as an administrator
and with farming, but also as a caregiver for seniors and as a support worker for people with disabilities.  She is a campaigner for
intergenerational equity and the rights of children to inherit a climate safe planet.


Diana is happy to provide assistance and support to Starchild staff, as well the parents and families of our students.


Maritess Nuneza

Teacher, Mill Bay

Marites hails from the Philippines and joined Starchiled Centres in 2018 as the Montessori Teach 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.


Rebecca Rutherford

Teacher, Mill Bay

Rebecca grew up and finished her ECE Diploma in Vancouver and moved to the island to start her career in 2019. Before ECE, she worked with children with various extra needs, from autism to those who use feeding tubes. Rebecca is trained in music and took training on music education for young children and like to incorporate music into her daily programming. She focus on attachment-based care, as she feels that when a child feels comfortable and safe, they are more able to meet their fullest potential.

Rebecca's program focuses on independence, social skills development, appreciation of nature, and process-based art. She believes there is no wrong or right way to be creative, but the point is to appreciate the process and explore the materials.


Cynthia Qin

Teacher, Mill Bay

Cynthia has completed the ECE program at UVI in June of 2021. She previously worked as a journalist and university staff in China. While accompanying her daughter to grow up, she began to pay attention to Waldorf education and realized that helping young children to get close to nature, and to love nature was her future life’s mission.

She believes that love and trust can build the relationship between children and teachers, and between colleagues. While children need child care, they are also developing their independence, constantly learning and innovating through curiosity.


Cynthia believes that nature is the best teacher and in a natural farm environment like Starchild, children can build a healthy body, develop a variety of abilities, and grow up under the influence of the beauty of nature.


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.


Anas Abusheikh

Teacher, Shawnigan Lake

My name is Anas, it is the Arabic word meaning pleasant. I cherish my name by living up to its meaning, through living joyfully with others. Earlier in my journey I used to work as a city planner, after graduating civil engineering from the university of Ottawa. I grew up in Dubai, was born in Saudi Arabia, and moved to Canada with Jordanian parents.


I recently graduated from the ECE program offered by Algonquin college in Pembroke, Ontario. And pursuing a life long dream of becoming an educator. I look up to each individual in my journey, and believe that they have a unique gift to share with me and the world. From working with children I seek inspiration to keep an open mind and a fresh eye on things, and the satisfaction of facilitating meaningful experiences for children. I spend most of my personal time being active, finding new spots to watch the sunset, reading philosophy books, or meditating.


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.

bottom of page