Janice with children from her centre
Name: Janice Pennells
NZTC Qualification: Bachelor of Teaching (Early Childhood Education)
Janice Pennells began her time at NZTC with a Bachelor of Teaching (Early Childhood Education) in 2008 and credits the knowledge and skills she gained at NZTC for guiding her and her family during challenging times.
The mother of two was near the end of her degree in late 2010 when her life was suddenly changed.
On September 4 a 7.1 magnitude earthquake struck just 10 kilometres from her Darfield home. Then in December, just three months after the earthquake her ten year old son, Sean, was diagnosed with leukaemia.
“My early childhood training and experiences were a huge asset to our family’s survival,” she said.
“The understanding that recognising a child’s strengths, interests and prior knowledge is central to growing confidence was cornerstone through my child’s treatment and recovery.”
Sean is now healthy and in his first year studying Zoology and Marine Science at Otago University, where he is “still following those interests that were a part of his early years and still enjoying learning”.
Inspired by watching her children’s passions and interests grow, Janice returned to NZTC to study a Postgraduate Diploma in Education in 2016, which she then followed with a Master of Education (Early Childhood Education) in 2017.
Completing her Master’s thesis was a moment of huge personal significance in her family’s journey and “the proudest point of her career”.
Janice with her son Sean
"The journey of doing a thesis involving my own teaching team, family and children made me proud of who I am, where I belong and what I strive to be,” Janice said.
Janice’s experiences as a parent were the main inspiration for her thesis which investigated the role played by parents in early childhood education.
”Watching my children grow and pursue their interests enthused me to keep learning and always expanding my understandings of how contextual factors and social relationships influence learning.”
Now working at Darfield Preschool and Nursery, the Early Childhood Teacher aspires to share her knowledge each day with the children, parents and her colleagues at the centre.
“My own experiences have given me a solid foundation in understanding the importance of partnered learning, so I will always take lead in empowering parents’ and children’s voices.”
Janice’s advice for other NZTC students is to always let their passions guide their studies.
“Think of assignments, essays and field practices as opportunities to delve deeper into what your real area of passion is. When you find it follow it and keep learning from every experience.”