Image by Philip Bohle
In early childhood education and care and care, we often meet individuals who exemplify passion and dedication. Christie is one of these people, a seasoned professional with over two decades of experience. From her initial curiosity about early childhood care in her teenage years to her current role as a Quality and Engagement Manager in Devonport, Christie’s journey has been marked by both triumphs and challenges alike.
We look at the impact she has made in the lives of families and educators, and the transformative power of building strong relationships within the community.
A Better Choice
Christie’s journey into the education and care sector began during her high school years when she was required to choose between two areas for practical placement – either beauty therapy and education and care (childcare). While both interested her, it was her mum who noticed her natural warmth and engagement with children, leading her to explore a career in the sector. Taking her mother’s advice, Christie enrolled in an early childhood program and soon found herself doing family daycare during her practical placement. The experience was rewarding, but she faced significant challenges in two other placements, questioning whether this was the right career choice for her.
“When I think about it, it was my mum who encouraged me to enter early childhood education and care. She had observed my interactions with children and said, “have you thought about childcare as a career?” “It made me wonder, perhaps this is a career I should try? So I enrolled into TasTAFE and started my Certificate III, then commenced my prac-placement in family day care, which I thoroughly enjoyed”.
A Pivotal Experience
It was during her third and final placement in a long day care centre that Christie’s perspective shifted entirely. The educators at the centre made her feel welcomed, encouraged her active participation in programming, and fostered a sense of ownership and belonging. Realising the immense impact that caring, nurturing educators can have on a child’s experience, Christie decided to stay in the sector and pursue a traineeship, setting herself up for a long and fulfilling career in early childhood education.
“Within six weeks I think, of my prac-placement, the centre director approached me and offered me a traineeship. And I was the first one to be offered a traineeship in Devonport Childcare Centres back then. So that’s going back 21 years. And from there, I became a trainee, completed my Diploma and worked in all the rooms throughout the service for seven years.”
Image by Philip Bohle
Nurturing Relationships and Unity
Throughout her career, Christie has worked hard to build strong relationships with both educators and families. Now, as a Quality and Engagement Manager, she knows how important it is to have a strong team and regularly brings educators together for team building activities. Christie believes that strong relationships and partnerships with families are essential to providing holistic care and support for children. She has actively engaged with the community, forming connections with schools, child and family centres, and allied health professionals to better understand and cater to families’ needs.
“When recruiting new staff or identifying someone who needs support, it’s important to create an anchor point for them. Developing trusting relationships, building connections and a sense of belonging”.
A Journey of Personal Growth
Embracing her role as a centre director, Christie found herself learning and adapting continuously to navigate the complexities of leadership. She sought support and guidance from her executive director and pursued various training programs, gaining valuable insights into team management, performance discussions, and effective leadership. Christie’s openness to ongoing learning and her passion for sharing knowledge have been key drivers in her professional growth and development.
“You are forever learning and reflecting from your practice. I am continually developing new skills and enjoy sharing my learning with others. I’m always keen to try new things and listen to colleague’s ideas, perspectives and challenges.”
Balancing Responsibility and Accountability
Being responsible for the care and education of young children comes with immense accountability. Christie is aware of the profound trust families place in educators, and she emphasises the importance of open communication and follow-up. Listening, understanding, and being non-judgmental are crucial qualities that help create a safe and supportive environment for families and educators alike.
“My most valuable learning has been, being non-judgmental. Being really open and listening to understand. Communication is crucial and underpins all relationships.”
The Power of Early Childhood Education
For Christie, early childhood education is not just about imparting knowledge to children but supporting their families as well. She values the potential of education and care to transform lives, recognising that providing tools and resources to families can have a far-reaching impact. Christie is passionate about identifying gaps in service and responding to the community’s needs, such as providing specialised programs for children with autism and supporting families at risk.
“Family partnerships are so important, building a hub of trust and belonging. At times we are the first point of contact for families. The ‘go to’ for advice, guidance and support. Being a part of families lives and their village has been the most rewarding part of being an early childhood educator”.
The Call for Recognition and Professional Development
As an advocate for the education and care sector, Christie believes in the importance of recognising educators as professionals. She highlights the ongoing learning and dedication required to excel in this field and emphasises the need for more support and professional development opportunities. Christie envisions a future where early childhood education is acknowledged as a respected profession, and educators are appreciated for the significant impact they have on children’s lives.
“During the early days of my career, I was selected to represent Tasmania and go to Canberra to deliver to Parliament signed petitions and letters from educators, advocating better recognition for the important early education and care we provide for children.”
“It was here we started to gain recognition, though we have not received the pay increases to reflect the work we do, we were recognised as ‘educators’ no longer ‘child carers’. I hope in time we are recognised as a profession and receive the recognition educators deserve.”
Christie’s journey in the education and care sector is a testament to the power of passion, dedication, and the transformative impact of strong relationships. From her chance entry into the sector to her current role as a Quality and Engagement Manager, Christie’s commitment to supporting families and educators shines through.
Her unwavering belief in the potential of early childhood education to shape young lives and her relentless pursuit of professional growth stand as an inspiration to all those who seek a fulfilling and meaningful career in the sector. As she continues to advocate for recognition and support, Christie’s vision for a brighter future for early childhood education is a driving force in her unyielding commitment to the wellbeing and development of young minds.
Our sincere thanks to Christie for contributing to Work with Purpose. To find out more about working in education and care (childcare) access an information guide here.
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