Our Leadership

We at Tree House Swans combines the strengths, skills and experience of our senior team members to steer our Kindergarten to create the organizational culture that reflects our values. Through sharing observations, discussion and reflection, the lead team constantly works towards reaching the goals set for Tree House Swans.



The core of their work is to provide each member of the team the support and guidance needed to bring out their best professionally and in turn also, learn from them and grow further. We believe our strength lies in the uniqueness of each one of us and that the sum is larger than its parts.

Taliyah Shirley Samuel

Raised in Mumbai, a major cosmopolitan city of India where I acquired my Bachelors degrees in Psychology and Special Education. I also hold a Masters in Early Childhood Education (German equivalent is ‘Diplom Pädagogin’). Moved to Germany in 2004. Co-founded a successful Cologne based English-German Bilingual Kindergarten in 2006. With 15 years of experience in leading Kindergartens and 32 years of experience in the field of education in different cultures, Tree House Swans is my most recent enterprise and I am looking forward to grow with it. Along with bringing the valuable experience of being a mother to two lovely girls, I also bring to Tree House Swans my curiosity for different cultures and human behavior, deep interest in Philosophy, Literature and History, love for the performing arts which all adds passion to my work.


"I strongly believe that positive and reflected early childhood practice can have a significant impact in creating a more compassionate, courageous and connected world."

Melanie Doerk

"Hello, my name is Melanie Doerk and I am a born and raised South African. I have made Germany my new home since I married a German National and have been living here very happily since 2008. 
After completing a degree in design and working in the field for a few years, I identified my true passion for childcare and obtained a degree in Early Childhood and the Montessori Teaching Technique. This was surely the best personal decision, since this career choice has been responsible for so much joy and fulfilment." I have been working as an educator for the last eight years and have had a professional relationship with Shirley Mertens ever since and hopefully for many more years to come.



"It is a honour to have the trust of parents to take care of the most valuable thing in their lives – their children."

Andrea Leuko

I have a diploma in preschool education from Austria. In the last 21 years I had the privilege to work in different preschool and day care settings around the world. I bring experience to Tree Hause Swans from an Austrian preschool, an Australian part-time childcare center, the USA where I participated in the IB program of the German-American school, a preschool in Canada with part time children and from a bilingual Kindergarten in Cologne.


"I believe that children can learn through trial and error, how to make good and bad choices for them and their environment and that children can have the power of making those decisions. As an educator I see myself as someone who can guide them through this process."

Our Groups Teams

Our groups have German and English speaking qualified staff members who work together to help children through the day.  Our teams comprise of a variety of colors, nationalities, religions and cultures. It is the common values of respect,



empathy and open communication that guide us to function smoothly and model these values to our children. Regular team meetings and team days are conducted where reflection and understanding of self and other is encouraged.



Every child is one-of-a-kind. We firmly believe that the best way for a child to thrive, is to empower that child by creating an environment filled with exciting possibilities to learn through all five senses.


To encourage the development of the whole child by providing and cultivating independent thought and foundational skills as well as awareness of their environment; empathy for others; social ease and confidence.


To establish within a child the intellectual, emotional, and physical rigor needed to become a self-directed learner, flexible thinker, creative problem solver, and support their ever-increasing curiosity about the world in which they live. To help our students to grow up to be successful, respectful global citizens.

We together strive to create  a safe place where our children grow their roots and strengthen their wings, to become more of who they are and become a valuable part of an ethical, democratic and progressive culture we consider as essential to sustain.