The Children First team is dedicated to creating a happy and stimulating environment for your children.

Children First Team


Our Team:

Monica Shah, Head and Founder of Children First Association

Monica Shah founded Children First in 2006 to support families bringing up young children abroad. Monica is a qualified child development specialist. After graduating from Oxford University she established a network of community education charities across the UK and launched the Mothering Project in north London. She completed her postgraduate diploma in 1998 and published her textbook ‘Working with Parents’ (Heinemann, 2001) before moving to Switzerland in 2002.

Emma Wright, English Kindergarten Teacher

Emma is British and has a Bachelor of Education Honours degree from Cambridge University. She has been teaching since 1995 and since then has also gained qualifications in Special Needs and Teaching English as a Foreign Language. She has taught mainly in independent schools but also has experience of home schooling children. Emma has spent the last three years teaching in an international school near Lausanne. She enjoys travelling, running and skiing and is looking forward to exploring the Zurich area.

Doris Heusser, German Kindergarten Teacher

Doris Heusser has been a qualified primary school teacher since 1994 in and around Zurich and is an experienced German as a foreign language teacher (DAZ). Doris is also a qualified Pilates instructor and works as a ballet teacher. She enjoys drawing.

Linda Atonji, Nursery Team Leader

Linda has worked in Zurich with children for ten years and holds a UK Level 4 certificate from the Open University in Early Years Practice. She has extensive experience as a nanny but also in group care and pre-school education. Linda came to work in 2007 for Children First at our first location in Englischviertelstrasse. Linda enjoys spending time with her two boys doing outdoor activities and she also loves to cook.

Valentina Grigoletti
Valentina recently completed the Montessori Assistant Certificate for ages 0 to 3 accredited by the Association Montessori Internationale. She is a mother of two and says her passion for working with children derives from her strong belief that ‘the child is both the hope and promise for mankind’ (Maria Montessori). Valentina is a certified Yoga Teacher and has taught Pregnancy-, Mother-and-Baby-, as well as Vinyasa Flow Yoga in Switzerland and Italy. She has lived in 6 different countries, speaks 5 languages and enjoys travelling, dancing, cooking and spending time with family and friends.


Gwen Wheeler
Gwen Wheeler is a qualified Montessori Teacher of children aged 0 to 6 years. She took her first 3-6 training course in Ireland in 1999. She then moved to Zurich and has been living and working here every since. In November 2011 Gwen completed her Montessori  AMI 0-3 Diploma in Zurich. During this time she has also completed the Certificate in Early Years with The Open University. Gwen loves to spend her spare time walking in the countryside with her dog and travelling as much as possible.