How I Became Miss Evie…
I was probably 12 when I declared to my family that I wanted to be a teacher or a nurse. The response from my parents was “teaching would be a great job for you, when you have children you’ll be able to take holidays to spend with them”. This was not the reason I wanted to be a teacher, ironically I am in my mid-thirties and I don’t have children and aside from my first teaching role, every centre I worked in was Long Day Care – no school holidays.
When I was 14 my mother was in a very serious car accident. She spent a few months in the hospital and every day after school I would go visit. The nurses got to know me quite well and my desire to be a nurse. They had me doing a few of the jobs and washing my mums hair. Nursing was looking like something I really could see myself doing. Amongst many injuries, mum’s most serious was a compound fracture. Twice a day the gauze was changed with the wound, one of the nurses suggested I have a turn, I felt the room close in, I was nauseous and that ruled out nursing.
For work experience in Year 10, I booked myself in at my old primary school to teach and by this stage was passionate to also be a Social Worker. The local hospital accommodated me for a few days and I found the role limited by people who were resisted to change and an incredible amount of red tape. My week of teaching however was everything that I had hoped it would be.
Finally my time had come to commence my teaching degree in Primary Education at University. A few weeks in we were assigned to our first practicums at local primary schools. In the first session I had what I can only describe as a moment of anxiety. I didn’t want to be there. The Education system that I saw contradicted my own personal philosophies. Where was the connection and understanding that each child was an individual? The year was 2000 and yet I was having flashbacks to my own education in the late 80’s…nothing had changed.
I left my studies and was confronted with the fear that I would never know what path I would dedicate my life to. All I had ever wanted to do was help people. I only ever had known that I really wanted to teach. What was I to do?
I received a call from an old friend that I hadn’t heard from in a while asking if I wanted to work a couple hours a day at a Preschool. Right now I was 19 and unemployed. Absolutely!
The centre was based in a Church hall and I met an amazing group of Educators. One of which was the mother of a close friend from High School. I instantly felt connected to these children and interviewed for the position. The Director called me into her office and told me she saw potential and instead offered my a full-time role as her assistant.
For 18 months I worked with an experienced, passionate team of Educators who opened my eyes to the wonderful world of Early Childhood. I was exposed to a different understanding of child development and to view the child as an individual.
In 2002 I started my Bachelor of Early Childhood and have never looked back. By 25 I was Director. In 2006 I completed my Postgrad specialising in Early Childhood Education. Then in 2008, Masters in Education specialising in the Multicultural Classroom.
By the time I was 29 I had taught in Sydney, Tokyo, Lugano and Geneva.
Today is the 5th October, which means it is World Teacher’s Day. In the 15 years that I have been in this industry I wish I could reflect and say Early Childhood Educators are more respected than ever. Unfortunately we are viewed as glorified babysitters. We are incredibly low-paid when comparing to our Primary and Secondary Educators. We have lower conditions and there is an incredible high turn-over and burn-out rate.
The current change of Prime Minister has brought about a positive change where Early Childhood Education is back in the Education Portfolio (we were in Department of Social Services).
My hope is that 2015 will finally bring about recognition that Early Childhood Education is more than finger painting and playing duck, duck goose.
Happy World Teacher’s Day. Ryan gets us!