Meet The Team - Life Education

Meet The Team


Rob Simcic


Rob Simcic is a company director specialising in the New Zealand food sector and community wellbeing initiatives and CEO of Little Beauties a specialist gourmet food producer. Rob spent over fifteen years in ANZ Commercial & Agri Banking, most recently as the Food & Beverage Sector Specialist. He was Board member of Eat NZ and vice chair of Festival Marlborough. He lives on a small holding in Tasman with his wife Niki and has four children. Rob was the Chair of Life Education Trust Marlborough when he joined the LET NZ Board in 2016, was appointed Deputy Chair 2019 and Chair in 2021. Rob holds a degree in Applied Science from Massey University

Bridget O'Brien

Deputy Chairperson

With the support of the is grant Life Education Canterbury Trust was able to deliver 249 sessions of the Healthy Harold Program to 12 Schools and reached over 2516 young children over the period the grant covered. This will contribute to us meeting our objective of interacting with over 20,000 children across the Canterbury Region this year. Feeback from the Teachers was positive with over 95% saying we met the objectives and that the sessions were well designed and met not only met curriculum requirements but also met the needs of the school and community in relation to addressing some of the challenging health and wellbeing needs children in their communities are being faced with such as Anxiety, Bullying and Substance abuse issues such as vaping. Life Education will continue its mission to ensure as many children as possible will have access to quality education and support to make healthy and positive life choices both now and into the future. As we are entirely community funded, thank you for your support and we look forward to working with you again to continue or joint goal of improving the community we are all part of.

Dean Garrett


Dean Garrett is a retired accountant with extensive experience in tax specialization, previously affiliated with the Institute of Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand. He holds a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Canterbury. After two decades in Australia, Dean returned to his hometown, Christchurch, two years ago. He is also a certified teacher, having earned a Diploma of Education

Deb Daines


Raajan Sami


Christine Goodin


Christine’s involvement with Life Education began 25+ years ago and is a founding Trustee of the Life Education Taranaki Trust and a Life Member of LET NZ. Christine’s family are actively involved in Life Education across different parts of NZ. Christine has a long history of supporting at risk youth, providing care for more than 100 young people since 1995 and is heavily involved in the Taranaki Community

John Spring


John is managing director of the Beacon Media group which includes newspaper and printing businesses started by his father with the Whakatane Beacon in 1939. John has been chairperson of the Eastern BOP Life Education Trust for 20+ years and is a Life Member of Life Education Trust (NZ). John joined the Board in 2016 and was appointed Deputy Chair in 2021. He is a passionate golfer and has various community roles including the golf club committee and Board of Trustees at St Joseph’s School.

Our Educators

Keri Dekkers


Keri has been teaching for over 23 years from Year 3-8. Both private and state schools, in both New Zealand and the UK. Keri has a varied educational career in; school leadership roles, specialist in the performing arts, and gifted and talented education.
Keri lives in Rolleston, Canterbury with her husband, also a teacher, dog and two cats. She loves to travel and is now enjoying exploring the beauty of New Zealand.
“Teaching is not just a career it is a calling. Working with children every day is a great privilege, especially through Health Education. I love being able to provide children with tools that help them deal with problems they are facing and help them understand more about themselves and their growing bodies.”

Jo Atkinson


Jo has been teaching for 20 years in Christchurch Primary Schools. She has taught from year 0-8 during this time. Finally settling into a leadership role at her previous school. Prior to moving into education, Jo was nursing in a private hospital in Christchurch. Working for Life Education Trust enables her to work within her two passions, education and health. Jo considers Life Education her dream job and is very excited to join the team.

Jo is married to Dave and they have two sons, Luke 16 and Oliver 12. They also have two cats and two naughty Miniature Dachshund puppies, who rule their home. In their spare holiday time they travel around NZ in a purpose built bus, exploring, fishing and enjoying all the beauty that is our stunning country.

Helly Robinson


Helly is a New Zealand trained and experienced teacher who has worked in both mainstream and specialist classroom settings.She has recently joined the Canterbury Team of Educators after teaching in the Middle East and South East Asia for several years. Helly has returned to New Zealand and has made Rangiora home. Enjoying skiing in the winter and mountain biking in the summer with her husband and two teenage boys. She has a strong commitment to the students that she works with. Helly loves seeing children thrive through learning and feels it is an honor and a privilege to be part of their learning journey.

Trust Manager

Michael Stanley

Community Engagement Manager

Starting his working life as a Registered Nurse Michael has a passion for empowering people and improving their health and wellbeing. More recently Michael has worked for Profit for purpose organisation in community development and partnership roles at a senior level. He loves building relationships that lead to outcome that benefits all stakeholders and most importantly help change and empower individuals and communities.

Michael is married to his wonderful wife Astrid and they have two children Alex and Max who are excited that Harold is his boss!.

Together in their spare time working in their garden (which recently included adding their first be hive). Michael also enjoys traveling, camping and sailing (which he wishes he had more time for).