Our Staff


Eloise Smith

Eloise is a Foundation Stage Teacher with a Further Diploma in Special Needs.  She also studied Psychology through UNISA for 3 years after work experience as special needs teacher for 8 years in the UK.  Here she mostly worked with children with severe learning disabilities (Autism, Down’s Syndrome, etc).  When she had her own children, she started child minding for 3 years before returning to South Africa to open Pokkelmander.

Eloise is currently busy with her training in DIR Floortime and uses these principles in her daily work and also teaches the special class in the mornings.  Other training include Einsteinhands signing, First Aid, Positive Handling, Signalong (Makaton), several Autism workshops and Play therapy.

With 20 years of experience tutoring literacy and numeracy, she also does tutoring in the afternoons, help children with homework and teaches right brain study skills.

Gail Adams

Gail worked at a school offering inclusive education for 13 years.  Here she worked with various age groups ranging from the 2 year olds to the Grade R’s.  Throughout her career, she was given the opportunity to study and attend various courses and workshops regarding children with special needs. It was always her passion to work with children and after her son was born with Down’s Syndrome, she felt the need to equip herself with knowledge that would be beneficial to him and other children.

She worked at Peter Pan Down’s Syndrome Centre for 13 years, before moving on to Pokkelmander Learning Centre in 2015.

Her journey working with children who has special needs has been one filled with learning and rewards, and a part of her life she would never want to change or forget. All the children she has worked with on this journey, taught her something valuable.

According to Gail, there are many things that we as adults can learn from children.

Workshops and courses she has done, include DIR Floortime, Einsteinhands signing, First Aid and Autism Cares (AWC).  She also did various workshops on intellectual disability, epilepsy and challenging behavior as well as HIV and Aids in the workplace and Ancillary Health Care.

Gail completed her NQF levels 4 and 5 and Assessor course ETDP Seta and is registered with the South African Council of Educators.

Other experience Gail has, includes volunteer management, fundraising and school admin.

Lizemari Koen

Since a very young age, Lizemari wanted to be a teacher.  She has a passion for children and love to teach.

She started working in a preschool in Pretoria and after a few years moved to Cape Town and started doing au pair work. After working for 3months at a family with 3year old twin boys, they were diagnosed with autism.  She went for training at SNAP to start educating herself in the area of autism.   Her next job was working with a boy with CHARGE syndrome who was also deaf.  She learnt sign language and did continuous training with REACH Autism.

After 3years with them, she went to Tulbagh to tutor a 3 year old girl with autism on the Unique minds, program.  After a year she returned to Cape Town and started at Pokkelmander.  She also tutors in the afternoons.

According to Lizemari, she doesn’t work a day in her life, because she loves what she does!