Meet the Thinking Caps Team

Thinking Caps for Kids has been created by Michele Yock and Julie Whitcombe. Both have been full-time primary school teachers and have taught in classrooms using the Numeracy Project. Julie worked for the Ministry of Education introducing the Numeracy Project to teachers across Auckland, which has given her an in-depth understanding of the Numeracy Project Frameworks. 

Together, they have developed Thinking Caps for Kids Ltd to address the needs of children who would benefit from a boost in Maths.

They have carefully chosen experienced, well-liked teachers from their teaching careers to help them run
small groups. All of the tutors are well versed in the Numeracy Project and have a great ability to motivate children and create a positive learning experience.  


Over their time helping children with their Maths, Thinking Caps has been approached by parents for Reading and Writing help and now have tutors helping children in these areas too. Thinking Caps have found tutors and liked-minded teachers who are skilled in this area and can support children’s learning.


Study Buddy is the newest tutoring lessons to be offered; where older students are helping younger students with exam preparation or particular subject area. Once again, Thinking Caps have chosen a wonderful bunch of mature young adults who have the ability to help these younger students as they have “been there and done that!”

Julie Whitcombe
Julie WhitcombeDirector - Maths Tutor Bachelor of Education - University of Auckland Diploma Teaching - Auckland College of Education CSBM, CABG
Julie Whitcombe is one of the directors of Thinking Caps For Kids, a company she started with Michele in 2005. Julie first started her career teaching Early Childhood, and then went on to teach in the Primary and Intermediate sectors, where she had worked for 10 years.In 2001, Julie was seconded by the Ministry of Education to be a Numeracy Facilitator, where she introduced the Numeracy Project to schools across Auckland. She has since presented at National Conferences and day courses across New Zealand and is passionate about raising the profile of Maths and along the way – improving attitudes towards it! Julie is now tutoring children across the Hibiscus Coast and North Shore. She works with children to give them a boost in their confidence and find ways to use strategies to solve mathematical problems.
Michele Yock
Michele YockDirector - Maths Tutor Diploma of Teaching - Auckland College of Education
Michele Yock started Thinking Caps For Kids with Julie in 2005. She has taught in schools across Auckland and has taught for many years on the Hibiscus Coast. Her strengths lie in getting children up to speed with their knowledge of numbers and basic facts, ensuring they have an excellent foundation for further Maths learning. She has the ability to quickly assess where children’s gaps are and work on these with a variety of different methods to cater for all needs. Michele has created clear plans and working documents that we use in the Thinking Caps lessons and has a passion for creating worksheets that can help develop off by heart knowledge.

Our Team

Welcome to our Thinking Caps family! We are here to help your child or teenager feel more confident with Maths.

Each of our experienced, well-liked primary teachers has an in-depth understanding of the Maths curriculum, a passion for boosting confidence in kids and a knack for making lessons fun.
Our Study Buddy student tutors, who work one on one with secondary school students, are very capable and mature and particularly valuable as they have ‘been there and done that’.
We love kids. You’ll find us to be very friendly and approachable and able to make your child feel at ease. We welcome children with specific learning needs and do our very best to adapt our teaching to provide the right support.

Nicola Falloon
Nicola FalloonMaths Tutor Diploma of Teaching
Nic has had 8 years teaching experience ranging from years 3 – 8. She has always had a passion for Mathematics; even right back to when she tutored School C Maths while she was still at school, as well as when she was training to be a teacher. Teaching in small groups is her ideal, as there is nothing more rewarding than being able to work intimately with the children without any other distractions and seeing them grow in confidence as well as academically. Nic has a strong passion for wanting to know where children’s gaps are and working towards filling these so that the child can move forward quickly. She has a fun approach to her lessons and will go the extra mile. Nic now runs schools across the coast for us and we value her input to our team.
Michelle Butler
Michelle ButlerMaths Tutor Diploma of Teaching – Auckland College of Education Bachelor of Education – University of Auckland
Michelle has over 10 years teaching experience in both public and private schools across a range of year groups. After taking a break to have children, Michelle returned to the classroom part-time in 2012, undertaking a variety of contracts and relief teaching. Michelle was pleased to join the Thinking Caps team in Term 4 of 2013. She is passionate about Maths and enjoys creating a fun and supportive learning environment, encouraging students to develop self-confidence and learn strategies they are able to apply back in the classroom.
Emma McKinney
Emma McKinneyMaths Tutor Diploma of Teaching
Emma is a primary trained teacher with 13 years teaching experience including in this time 2 ½ years teaching in London and 8 years on the Hibiscus Coast. She has always enjoyed working with children who need a boost and completed her training in SPELD to support this. Emma enjoys the individual attention that small group focussed teaching can provide and seeing the confidence develop in the children she works with.Emma has worked for Thinking Caps for a number of years on the Hibiscus Coast and has now moved to Queenstown and established Thinking Caps there in 2014. She has a quiet but effective manner towards her teaching that children appreciate when being tutored. She is very organised and approachable.
Carolyn Atkinson
Carolyn AtkinsonMaths Tutor
Carolyn has been working with children and their families for more than 22 years. She joined Thinking Caps in 2016 and enjoys encouraging children learn to love Maths. She is passionate about getting children confident with their basic facts and begin to use them to solve Maths problems.

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