Hometown: South Africa
NZTC qualification: Bachelor of Teaching (ECE)
From Durban to Down Under
Annie moved with her family to Kerikeri from South Africa nine years ago after completing a diploma in Montessori teaching. Curious about the teaching philosophies in her new homeland, she took her children to a local kindergarten. She became intrigued by Te Whāriki (New Zealand’s early childhood curriculum), biculturalism and the concept of learning through play.
A seed planted
A few years later Annie decided she would like to study early childhood from a New Zealand perspective. She chose to complete a Bachelor of Teaching (ECE) at NZTC because it delivered “exactly” what she wanted: a high quality degree which she could study for from home, meaning she wouldn’t have to leave her children for long periods of time.
A place to grow
Annie feels fortunate to have found employment in a centre that resonates with her beliefs and values. She loves viewing the world through the eyes of the 3 to 5 year olds she works with, and “witnessing the delight in their faces when they’ve learnt something new.” Annie starts each day by going around the centre to have a ‘chat’ with each child to ensure they all start their day on a positive note. She’s aware of the knowledge gained from her degree influencing her every decision: “I’m not one to just do something because other teachers are doing it,” she says. “I’ve learnt to reflect and look at situations from everyone’s point of view and always keep in mind that, ultimately whatever we are changing or negotiating, it has to be for the child’s benefit.” Two months ago Annie was promoted to Head Teacher.
A secret garden
In her final stage of study, Annie attended a block course in Whangarei, where she garnered the inspiration to start a ‘secret sensory garden’ at her centre. A few months ago a child who was having some difficulties at home had begun describing fairies and butterflies fluttering about in the grass. “That affirmed my decision to get this project started,” she recalls. “I envisaged a safe place where the children could take in the sights and sounds of nature, and feel calm and happy, particularly when things at home were not ideal.” As with most centres the budget was limited, so bringing her vision to life meant sourcing materials at minimal cost - and convincing her colleagues it could be done. “In Northland there is no shortage of free bamboo... and I took the initiative to ask the local stores
and whānau for donations and explained what was being done. The contributions were amazing!” A beautiful garden featuring a park bench, bamboo fence, wind-chimes, shells, toadstools, pebbles and flowers, is now the pride of the centre’s outdoor area. Annie says seeing the joy on the children’s faces from start to finish reiterated to her just how much she loves her job.
In full bloom
This April Annie will travel down to Auckland to attend NZTC’s 2014 graduation ceremony. Next on her professional agenda will be gaining her full teachers registration. She hopes to continue to attend professional development workshops, as she recognises the importance of keeping up-to-date with current early childhood issues. She often refers back to the resources she used during her study, and says she is very grateful for the support the extended NZTC team showed her throughout: “they were always willing to listen and help. [They] made this journey so much easier for students like myself, who sometimes thought we wouldn’t make it to the end.”
A legacy of love
Annie says her job is professionally and personally fulfilling, because she knows she is in a position of influence in a significant time in children’s lives. She hopes to be seen as “loving, nurturing, encouraging, approachable and fun – just a truly loving teacher.”