About us

The Hills Learning Centre specialises in learning difficulties and special needs, learning support, mentoring, parent-support and developing skills for school readiness.

Mary Kerba

Director


The Hills Learning Centre was established by Mrs Mary Kerba, a highly motivated, experienced and gifted educator and communicator, with a wealth of knowledge and 32 years of combined Special Needs teaching and school leadership experience. Mary has a Diploma in Teaching from the Catholic Teachers College in North Sydney (currently ACU- Australian Catholic University), a Graduate Certificate in Learning Difficulties from University of NSW, certificate in Counselling and Advanced Communication Skills from the University of Western Sydney and has trained in many Specific Learning Difficulties (SLD) and other educational methods, some of which are Lindamood-Auditory Conceptualisation; Visualising /Verbalising for Comprehension and Learning; WRAP/Spalding; Junior Great Books; and Visible Thinking.

Her journey in Special Needs began in the early 1980’s teaching children with a wide range of disabilities and sensory impairments. By the early 1990’s Mary moved into adult education where she taught and supported young people with disabilities. In the mid 1990’s, Mary established, and was owner/director of TLC (Telopea Learning Centre) in Sydney.

During this time she also hosted and facilitated Professional Development for teachers in the area of early literacy and learning difficulties and also presented at one of SPELD’s Learning Conference at Westmead. Mary returned to mainstream teaching in 2000 until mid-2014. She has taught at infants and primary level, developed and implemented a school learning-support program, and has been Head of Infants and the Head of Junior School of an independent girls’ school in Sydney’s north-west.

Mary’s passion for teaching, and especially in the area of Special Needs and Learning Difficulties, has brought her back to this field by establishing The Hills Learning Centre in late July 2014. Mary is a current professional member of Specific Learning Difficulties NSW-SPELD NSW, Learning Difficulties Coalition-LDC, Learning Difficulties Australia- LDA, Associate Member of the Independent Primary School Heads Association NSW- IPSHA NSW and Organisational Associate of National Disability Services-NDS.

Our Staff

Mrs. Lisa Patchett


A keen and passionate teacher who has worked with students ranging from kindergarten through to year 6, both as a classroom teacher and as a private tutor.

Lisa graduated in 1997 with a Bachelor of Teaching (Primary) from UTS and has taken a number of professional development courses focusing on literacy. Lisa specializes in early literacy with an emphasis on phonics.
Passionate about helping all children reach their potential.

Mrs. Natalie Goodwin


Mrs Natalie Goodwin is an enthusiastic, passionate and skilled teacher who has worked with students from a range of age groups as a classroom teacher and private tutor. Natalie has a Bachelor of Education (Primary) from ACU in Sydney and has undertaken a great deal of professional development in special education, literacy and numeracy.

Natalie comes to The Hills Learning Centre with a wealth of knowledge and a passion to assist students to achieve their personal best. She has a strong mathematics background and has been able to combine these skills and knowledge with effective teaching to reach and teach her students. She has undertaken training in the EMU (Extending Mathematical Understanding) initiative that has given her the ability to target specific gaps in a student’s mathematical understanding. She has extensive experience tutoring in mathematics to students from Kindergarten to Year 12.

Natalie has taught children with a range of special needs and specific learning difficulties including Autism Spectrum Disorder, Irlen’s Syndrome and with Language Background other than English (LBOTE).
A passion to assist students to achieve their personal best

Mrs Christine Cole


Christine is a highly experienced teacher in Special Education with a passion for helping students to reach their potential, regardless of their difficulties. Chris has worked in Special Education with both small groups and in individual learning support programmes for over 30 years and brings a wealth of expertise, compassion and enthusiasm to our centre.
A passion for helping students to reach their potential, regardless of their difficulties.

Mrs Lesley Heath


Lesley is a passionate teacher with over forty years experience in The Public Education System. Having completed her Diploma in Teaching in 1976 Lesley has throughout her career furthered her studies by completing a Bachelor of Education (Spec Ed) and a Masters Degree in Special Education. She has taught mainstream classes K-6 and individual students. She has also been a Support Teacher Learning Difficulties (STLD), taught Reading Recovery and worked as a tutor. Lesley now works as a casual teacher, supporting students with learning difficulties and special needs.
A passionate teacher with over forty years experience.

Jo Wittick


As a special education teacher Jo has been working with children with additional needs for over 20 years. Jo’s experience has primarily focused around those with autism, challenging behaviour and developmental delay. Jo also has significant experience working within the home environment and supporting families to develop effective strategies to make their daily lives easier.

Jo has worked in a range of settings including special schools, support units and mainstream classrooms. As a trained program manager for Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) she has developed, implemented and supervised numerous programs within both the home and preschool/school environments. Jo has also established an ASD specific playgroup and assisted to establish an ASD specific preschool program.

Jo enjoys the work she does immensely; not only working with the child and seeing their progress but also working with their families to implement ways to support this development.
Jo also has significant experience working within the home environment and supporting families to develop effective strategies to make their daily lives easier.

Maria Hackett


Maria is an experienced primary school teacher and is passionate about working with children who learn differently and providing them with positive learning environments and opportunities. After graduating from the Catholic College of Education Sydney, Maria taught in a school for blind and visually impaired students and in a Catholic primary school. She has returned recently to Australia after working as a Learning Support Teacher in a large international college in Singapore for the past 18 years, where she gained a Diploma in the teaching of children with specific learning difficulties. She has extensive experience adapting curricula, integrating technology and collaborating with teachers, parents and specialists in a variety of cultures and school settings.
Passionate about working with children who learn differently and providing them with positive learning environments and opportunities

Our Aims and Philosophy

At The Hills Learning Centre, our aim is to provide every child and the family, with the best support possible through our values of INCLUSION, COLLABORATION, DIVERSITY and INTEGRITY, so that every child becomes a confident and happy learner and that parents feel supported in their task of parenting.

Our Mission is to provide support for the child and their family by building inclusive communities for all children and young people. Our Vision is that all children and young people are able to participate inclusively and meaningfully in their community. Every child and their family is treated and respected equally regardless of ability or background and supported in their right to have equal access to education, services and the community.

Our Logo

The intertwined six-petal design represents the mind of the child. Each coloured petal represents an aspect of learning, as each of these areas is connected as the brain processes all the information and learning to make sense of it. We never learn new things in isolation. Our prior experiences and acquired knowledge provide connections to new information which can then be processed and applied to new situations and learning. Each petal also represents one aspect of the ‘whole child’-intellectual, physical, social, creative, spiritual and character. Each petal is in the shape of a ‘question mark’ as it is through inquiry and natural curiosity that children learn best.