The idea of Early Years Education Specialists (EYES) was born over a cuppa (many actually) as we reflected on the changes that have occurred in the Early Childhood sector and how we would meet these challenges as dedicated professionals.
In reflecting on my 29 year early childhood career (from the Diploma of Teaching, to the Bachelor of Education degree and with each new role I undertook) I became aware of how rich the learning environments were in each, and for very varied reasons.
Initially, working for a large city council-which managed 10 children’s services in the municipality, I worked with many children and educators with English as a second language. This experience taught me unique communication strategies and was the beginning of my journey into my interest in planning and programming for young children. It was also my initiation into management styles, innovation and structure.
After relocating to the south coast 5 years later with a 3 day old baby, within 6months I had begun a role in a service specifically catering for children at risk, with an age range of 0-15 (operating 24hours). This community organisation focused on the education, care and support and was an inspiring model of families, authorities and care and education services working together to improve the lives of children and prevent the cyclic nature of abuse and domestic violence. With socials workers and therapists as part of our team, my understanding of the importance of early intervention deepened, as did my awareness of the benefits of having a multidisciplinary team approach.
After having a second child (another 5 years later)I took some time off to grow a baby and beef cattle. I lasted about 14 months before returning to education as Annie’s replacement at the mobile service (our paths crossed for the first time)
Within this organisation ( a community managed service) I had the opportunity to develop a tiny mobile service into a larger permanent centre based facility. Throughout the planning, building and transitioning phase of the inception I had the opportunity to create an environment which is a true reflection of my philosophy in relations to the education and care of children. I honed my management skills as the service grew in size and reputation, and I am proud of the team of educators I lead towards receiving the EXCEEDING rating in all 7 areas of the Assessment and Rating system.
After mentoring and leading staff and students, and working with other directors to navigate the changes in the sector at various levels over many years, I took steps towards greater understanding of adult learning styles.I completed the TAE40110 Certificate in Training and Assessment (2012) and upgraded competency unit in Adult Language, Literacy and Numeracy skills (TAELLN411) in 2015 . I have also done some teaching and assessing with a Sydney TAFE , been a guest speaker on University panels and written learning materials for an RTO.
My energies are now focused on the Early Years Education Specialists (EYES) business that Annie and I are creating. Together, we see a need for team based training towards quality improvement and the necessary support for educators as they are becoming more professionally recognised and the expectations on educator’s increases. Using my strengths of strong organisational skills, demonstrated commitment, and flexibility, strong advocacy in the sector, and current practical knowledge- and in combination with Annie’s extraordinary strengths-we will offer unique and specialised training, facilitated learning and consultation.
Robin Williams, in his role in the acclaimed movie Dead Poets Society discussed with a class of boys his reasons for standing on a table during his lessons to them. He explained that it reminded him to always look at things from different perspectives. I strive to remember this in my work with children, educators and families and bring this with me to EYES as we develop our new venture.
My journey working within the Early Childhood sector started over 35 years ago when I trained and worked as an infant’s teacher for the Department of Education.
After having my own children I realised my desire to teach younger children and so retrained in Early Childhood at Macquarie University. Since then I have co-directed a mobile preschool which taught me to be adaptable, to take initiative and think outside the box and the pure delight of teaching young children with limited resources.
The next phase of my journey saw me build, manage and operate a long day care centre with a business partner for over 18 years. During this time I developed strong relationships with the children, families and our team of educators to provide a service that was consistently accredited as a high quality service and last year assessed as Exceeding NQS in all quality areas. My knowledge of the National Quality Framework and Early Years Learning Framework is extensive as I led my team as Educational Leader embracing the many challenges and changes since their introduction. I have been a mentor to many Tafe and University students and was a casual lecturer at Wollongong University in Early Childhood for two years.
Since moving on from my own service in 2013 I have returned to Macquarie University and have completed a year of my Masters in Early Childhood; worked as a casual facilitator for a peak body in NSW providing a variety of training to early childhood services; worked casually as an EC teacher; upgraded my adult learning qualification to TAE40110 Certificate of Training and Assessment; and travelled to Cambodia where I volunteered at an orphanage teaching English, a unique experience one I will never forget.
In fact, I have travelled widely visiting many early childhood services worldwide especially in Africa and Asia which has shown me that the care and education of young children is the responsibility of the whole community. “It takes a village to raise a child”, an old African proverb is a commonality found the world over and was one I reflected on after one such experience in Botswana. Here I met a beautiful seven year old child, Senatse dragging himself through the dirt being paralysed since birth. He was unable to attend school which was a five kilometre walk away from his village which I might add his siblings and cousins eagerly walked barefoot both ways each day. On returning to my centre I told the children about him and they decided they wanted to buy Senatse a wheelchair which amazingly they did by selling “creations” in a specially made “Senatse’s Shop”. Now Senatse is pushed to school everyday by his barefoot siblings and cousins thanks to the global village.
And now to the next exciting step in my journey…….EYES, Early Years Education Specialists. Kate and my paths first crossed when she became director of the mobile preschool after I left. Since then our relationship has been one of mentoring each other, sharing ideas and venting especially through the many challenges, changes, highs and lows as we negotiated our way through the National Quality Framework and the Assessment and Rating process. We share a similar philosophy and have a proven track record in the Early Childhood profession believing that by working with your team we can help you to increase your knowledge and skills, embrace change, face challenges, think outside the box and share our passion for the early years.
“Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world” Nelson Mandela.