Name: Joanne Beaumont-Bates
NZTC qualification: Master of Education (Early Childhood Education)
What were you doing before you enrolled with NZTC?
I feel like I’ve been studying forever now, actually – it’s been about six years! Before this I’d been in sales most of my life, but then things happened, as they do. After I had my youngest son, a lot of the other mothers in my coffee group and I all had the same problem of not being able to find childcare in Nelson because all of the centres were full at the time. I didn’t want to go back to work, as it wasn’t going to fit in with my lifestyle at the time, so I offered to look after another of the mother’s children, and then I ended up with another one, and I found myself really enjoying it. I thought, wow, maybe I’ve found my niche here!
Why did you decide to study with NZTC?
Whenever I decide to do something, I have to research it to the nth degree. Living in Nelson can be tricky in terms of studying, and I found that NZTC’s Distance Learning mode was really the best option for me.
Plus, I’ve only ever had good feelings about NZTC. Whenever anybody that I mentor comes to me and wants to be an early childhood teacher, I wave the NZTC flag because I’ve had such a good learning journey with you.
When you finished your Bachelor in Teaching (ECE), why did you decide to continue on to your Postgraduate Diploma in Education (ECE) and Master of Education (ECE)?
I think there’s a real gap in the market for higher educated teachers, and I think it helps our profession for teachers to move forward and be recognised. My education has been a great support for my teaching practice, and has helped me to mentor and give feedback to the other teachers I work with. Having a higher level qualification also gives me options, so if I keep teaching it’s because I want to, not because I have to. I feel I’ve positioned myself well to move up in my career. I could move into a more academic role, maybe lecturing or research, or even do my doctorate – I do think Dr Beaumont-Bates has quite a nice ring to it!
I really enjoy study too. I find that I need that academic stimulation, and it makes me feel really good about myself.
What is your role at your centre?
I’m the Curriculum Leader at my centre and also work in the infants’ room. I’m still at my Home Centre from my Bachelor’s degree – I started at the bottom and worked my way up quite quickly. Having sales and management experience and other life skills has helped me, because my role goes beyond just working with children, including communicating with parents and families.
How have you balanced study with work and other commitments?
I decided to do my Master’s degree part-time. I like to do everything well, and with my position at work, I couldn’t just take time off to finish an assignment if I needed to. I’m not necessarily sticking to the part-time schedule – I’m well ahead! – but it’s good to have that flexibility in case I need it.
My son and my husband both go to bed around 7:30pm so I use the time after they go to sleep to study. I’m happy to put that time to good use instead of just watching the telly! I’m strict about sticking to my study schedule during the week so I can pretty much keep my weekends free to spend with my family, and that’s worked well for me.
In my free time, I’m also a drum major and play the bagpipes. Playing the bagpipes is good for me because I can’t think of anything else when I’m playing them, so nothing can get in - no study thoughts, no family thoughts, nothing – it’s kind of a brain rest!
How has your experience been with the Master’s program and the research process so far?
I’ve really been enjoying it! It does take some work to balance my studies with my other commitments, but once I sit down at the computer I get right into it.
The NZTC advisors I’ve been working with have been brilliant. They give lots of feedback, and though sometimes it takes some time to process it all, my writing has improved so much with their support.
And studying by distance learning has been fantastic. I’ve never really liked the whole classroom thing anyway, so for me it’s really good!
Is there any advice you’d give to other students thinking about enrolling in an NZTC Master’s program?
Yes. Go for it! Definitely! Don’t look back, just look forward and jump in - it’s the best thing I’ve ever done!