Meet our Team....

Anna Keno 

Anna is the creative driving force behind GIANT LEAPS Speech Company - established in response to the demand for quality and specialist Speech Therapy and Speech + Drama Classes for all ages and abilities. A qualified Speech Therapist (BSLT) and Speech + Drama Teacher (ATCL, ASB),  Anna has over 20 years experience working with young people to develop confidence, creativity and most importantly communication skills for life. Anna is a mother to four young children and understands the importance and emotion involved in wanting to see your children succeed.

Louise Erskine

Louise graduated in 2004 with a Bachelor of Speech & Language Therapy with first class honours. Before joining the GIANT LEAPS team, Louise worked as a Speech Therapist in both the public education and health sector. She has worked extensively with pre-school and school aged children presenting with a variety of speech and language disorders and delays. Louise is a wife and mother to three young children, so understands first hand the developmental and social importance of every young person achieving their speech and language potential. 

Shannon Eckersley 

Shannon graduated in 2018 with a Bachelor of Speech and Language Pathology with first class honours. Before joining the Giant Leaps team, Shannon was the lead and sole charge therapist at Sarah Cohen School in Dunedin. Shannon has a range of experience in different areas of communication including AAC, social skills programmes, language delays and treating speech sound difficulties. Shannon is originally from the Waikato but have been living in the South Island since training as a Speech and Language Therapist and loves it here! I Her spare time Shannon loves to keep fit, and enjoys reading, baking, doing crafts and hanging out with my friends and family.

Sarah Wilson

Sarah completed her bachelors degree in Speech and Language therapy in 2017 with first class honours. Before joining the GIANT LEAPS team, Sarah previously worked in the public system with the Ministry of Education and the Child Development Team. Sarah is passionate about working collaboratively with colleagues, whānau, schools, and the community to create shared aspirations and meaningful communication outcomes for children Sarah's practice is always client focused and meaningful, which promotes generalization of new skills into everyday settings. "I achieve successful collaboration in my practice by building strong working relationships where communication is open and honest"  

Alice Sollis 

Alice Sollis has achieved an impressive list of theatre and performing accomplishments. Her career on stage began as a dancer in SCDL revues, and she is now a recognised and well respected director having directed over 50 stage productions including the highly successful “The Sound of Music”, "Grease",“The Addams Family”; “Chicago”; “All Shook Up”; & "Wizard of Oz"; to name just a few. Alice writes compilation shows; has worked in radio; creates sound effects for plays; performs as a soloist, and sings in the very busy band “The Drama Queens” at corporate and private functions. Alice works as event & production manager for festivals and concerts, has acted in two locally produced movies, judged numerous talent quests, and leads school holiday drama programmes all over Canterbury. Alice loves teaching and nurturing all aspects of theatre and the spoken word.

Francesca Black

Francesca is Giant Leaps very first student turned teacher! Once a delightfully diligent Giant Leaps speech and drama student… now an exciting and energetic speech and drama teacher, Francesca started her journey with Giant Leaps while at primary school and carried on to complete her Speech NZ senior examinations throughout her secondary school years. Not only teaching... Francesca is also completing her Sounds-Write structured literacy training and starting her Bachelors degree in Speech and Language Therapy… she's got a lot more to give! 

Abigail Austin 

Abigail is a well rounded + experienced performer and teacher. She has a long list of credits to her name with the most recent being Elle Woods in the South Canterbury Drama League show Legally Blonde. Not only did Abigail play the leading lady she but also choreographed the show! This was her third SCDL show she has choreographed over the past 2 years alongside Suessical Kids, Hairspray Junior, and Cinderella. Abigail is passionate about sharing her performing knowledge and experiences with others. She thrives on seeing her student's grow in confidence and the positive impact that involvement in the performing arts has on shaping their lives both now and in the future. 


Lilly Stock

Lily is an accomplished public speaker, performer and stage manager. Lily recently played lead roles in the Waitaki Combined School’s - High School Musical, and then MTOs - Mamma Mia. She was nominated for the OSTA of Best leading female for her role as Sophie. In her own words "I am incredibly excited to work alongside Krissy and Anna as a Broadway Kids coach and look so so so much forward to showing kids how much fun we theatre guru’s have! I love both kids and performance, so the two combined for a job at my age is a dream come true.

Libby Higson 

Libby is a graduate of NASDA (National Academy of Singing and Dramatic Arts) where she gained a bachelor's degree in Performing Arts in 2019. Libby is also a well-rounded and dedicated performer - you may well have seen her on stage in Ashburton or Christchurch? Libby is passionate about sharing her experience and knowledge with young performers and hopes to encourage more children onto the stage! And if the stage is not your child's thing, Libby is equally passionate about equipping children with the confidence, creativity, and communication skills they will need throughout their lifetime!


Olivia Brinkmann

Olivia has been performing and practising speech & drama since the age of 13. Olivia has a Diploma in Speech & Drama (teaching) from the Trinity College of London. She is a PACANZ Nationals nominee and performer, and also Court Theatre Company member. To top all of that off, Olivia holds a Bachelors degree in Business! Olivia's is passionate about working with young children and inspiring the love of all things speech and drama. Her positivity is infectious, she she believes in unleashing the creativity in children to achieve lifelong communication and performance skills. After all life is a stage. 

Ben Donaldson

Benjamin (Ben) is a Unitec Performing and Screen Arts graduate with a diverse career in the Stage and Screen industry including crewing credits in episodic dramas for production companies like Netflix and Nickelodeon. He has experience in a variety of areas in film and theatre such as writing, directing, lighting, set design and performance. With years of experience acting and constructing scenes, he looks forward to sharing what he has learnt from his journey so far to the storytellers and performers of tomorrow..   future. 


Sarah Prentice

Having recently relocated from Sydney, Sarah has arrived in NZ with more than thirteen years experience in the theatre and film industry. Sarah studied at the National Institute of Performing Arts (NIDA) and has taught drama and performance to students all over Australia. Sarah has a Bachelor of Creative Arts (Film and Television) and an Advanced Diploma in Directing, Producing and Writing at JMC Academy and the International Film School (IFSS) as well as further study at the Australian Film, Television and Radio School (AFTRS). Sarah has been involved as a professional on several film and television productions including Home and Away, Peter Rabbit, and Wyrmwood. Sarah has been involved in short films, web series, and music videos that have been screened locally and in international festivals throughout the world.  


Rosie Leishman

With a childhood filled with acting and music, Rosie has always loved performing. Alongside her 8 years of classical singing training and playing various other instruments, Rosie studied Speech & Drama with Trinity College for 11 years and has just completed her ATCL exam with Distinction.  Rosie was a member of the National Youth Theatre Company and had lead roles in 14 productions over 14 years ranging from Annie, The Artful Dodger and Peter Pan to Cosette in Les Miserables and Antony in Julius Caesar. Rosie has a love for Shakespeare and was a Shakespeare Globe Centre NZ finalist for 4 years. She gained entry to NSSP in 2021 and has received various awards including 'Best Emerging Director', 'Best Communication with the Audience' and 'Best Vocal Projection'.


Hannah Austin

Hannah has spent a lifetime on the stage and in theatre. Hannah is a graduate of the National Academy of Singing and Dramatic Art (NASDA) in Christchurch where she studied singing, dancing and acting. In 2019 she graduated from the National Academy of Singing and Dramatic Arts (NASDA) with a Bachelor of Performing Art (Music Theatre). Her credits include Jesus Christ Superstar; The Wind in the Willows (The Court Theatre), Footloose; Little Women (NASDA), The Bechdel Test (Blackboard theatre collective) and Miss Saigon (Showbiz Christchurch). Hannah has been performing as a musician across the South Island for the past year as one half of an acoustic duo and recently featured as the soloist on her first Spotify cover.


Lucy Clough

Lucy is no novice when it comes to performing and loves sharing her passion with others. She is a Bachelor of Science graduate with a major in Physiology from the University of Otago, and is currently studying towards a Bachelor of Laws, and a Post Graduate Diploma in Bioethics and Health Law. Alongside her studies, Lucy is a current member of the New Zealand Youth Choir and frequent attendee of shows and musicals! Lucy has her ATCL Performance Diploma in Voice, and has previously taught keyboard and singing, Lucy has grown up on the stage and is excited to jump right into the speech and drama scene sharing her skills and knowledge with a younger generation!


Gabi Hagennars

Gabi is a postgraduate student and qualified Speech and Drama teacher in her final year of studying a Master of Speech Language Pathology at the University of Canterbury. Growing up, Gabi adored the stage and partook in various musical theatre endeavors as a teenager, before moving to the cultural hub of Wellington to begin university. It was there that she discovered her love for children and their unique, diverse outlook on life, and pursued a career to help them grow. As someone who once struggled with confidence and speech, Gabi seeks to empower both children and adults to build and establish their own confidence in their speech and language abilities. 


Anna Sillibourne

A qualified teacher, Anna graduated from the Dunedin College of Education in 2005 with a Bachelor of Education. Her passion for teaching drama led to her being appointed in a leadership role in the drama department at Murrays Bay Intermediate School, in Auckland. In this role, Anna was responsible for designing the drama teaching programme to be implemented throughout the school and for assisting other teachers in their delivery of the drama curriculum in their own classrooms. Upon returning to Otago, Anna took up a position teaching secondary school English at Lawrence Area School. Anna also featured as a tutor for the Lawrence Arts Academy singing and creative writing courses. A performer in her own right, Anna has been involved in drama and musical theatre from a very young age. Anna is passionate about working with young people on their own journey towards fluency of expression and self-confidence.

Krissy McGeown

Krissy is a leading vocalist with over 20 years’ experience. An accomplished performer in her own right, Krissy has been involved in drama and musical theatre from a very young age including the Musical Theatre Oamaru production of “The Addams Family” in which she played Alice Beineke, and received an OSTA best supporting actress nomination for the role. We are excited to see Krissy take on the lead role of Donna in the upcoming  Musical Theatre Oamaru’s production of “Mamma Mia!”. Krissy has extensive experience working with, and supporting people with disabilities. Krissy believes that music, singing and drama has wonderful therapeutic rewards, both mentally and physically, and is so excited to be able to share her knowledge and passion with others.


Hayley Goodman

Hayley is a qualified primary school teacher with 13 years of teaching experience. Hayley discovered her passion for drama during her high school years when participating in musicals. Hayley has taught and directed school musicals in London, Christchurch and Timaru which have ranged from involving 30-250 students. Since moving to Timaru in 2019, Hayley has become the lead teacher for Performing Arts, written and directed a musical for the senior school and directed a middle school musical earlier this year. Hayley is passionate about the performing arts and therefore decided to join the South Canterbury Drama League in 2019. Hayley has enjoyed appearing in the musicals Legally Blonde, Motherhood the Musical and Broadway Melody. 

 

Steff Edwards

Steff is our behind the scenes office administrator. She does everything that we cant! An invaluable member of the Giant Leaps family, Steff sorts out accounts, enquiries, referrals, and enrollments. The organization and ultra-efficiency of Steff supports  that our teachers and therapists to focus just on what we do best! 


Join our Team

Our vision is that every young New Zealander can achieve their very best communication + performance skills to succeed in life. In today's noisy world, the demand for these skills is needed more than ever before. We need superstar speech + drama teachers and speech therapists to join our team throughout Otago and Canterbury. If you like what you see + think you have got something to add... then lets talk!