Name: Marion van Acker
NZTC qualification: Graduate Diploma in Teaching (ECE)
Taking her career to new heights: Marion began studying with NZTC to meet a requirement for her Head Teacher role at Funshine Early Learning Centre in Riversdale, Southland. She found that her studies assisted her immensely in providing guidance and direction for her centre. Now, as Marion faces two exciting changes – completing her studies and taking on a new role as Self-Review and Bicultural Leader at City Heights Montessori in Dunedin – she reflects on her ECE education and how it has advanced her career.
Why did you choose to study with NZTC?
I originally trained as a primary school teacher before relieving in an early childhood centre. In November 2013, I was offered the Head Teacher role at Funshine Early Learning Centre, but in order to gain this position I was required to complete my Graduate Diploma in Teaching (ECE).
A manager of an early childhood centre down south advised me to study through NZTC. She had seen excellent results from her teachers who had done the same - their practice had improved greatly while studying.
How did your studies assist you in your role as Head Teacher?
As a new Head Teacher, I was thrown in the deep end, as the centre didn’t have a Head Teacher for 18 months prior to me starting. We had little to no documentation present, and the Education Review Office (ERO) team were scheduled to visit within just eight months! During their visit they would review the quality of care and education the centre provides, and I had a lot of work ahead to ensure that they would be happy with what they found.
To prepare for ERO’s visit, I worked to establish correct self-review, policies and procedures for the centre. My studies were a huge help in learning how to do this. I also drew significantly from my studies to write thorough and in-depth answers to all of ERO’s questions.
ERO ultimately gave the centre a good report with a three-year return, meaning that they found our service well placed for promoting positive learning outcomes for children. We would never have achieved such a good result without the knowledge I received from my NZTC education.
How was your experience studying via NZTC Online?
Online learning was perfect for my situation and I was pleased to find that the online discussions with colleagues and lecturers made it feel personal. I did need to be very disciplined to complete my studies online, as I was also working 40-plus hours a week.
What did you enjoy most about studying with NZTC?
I was extremely happy with the support I received while studying, both online and from Visiting Lecturers. I also found the assignments and course material incredibly well put together. It all seemed very current and applicable to what happens day-to-day in an early learning centre.
What do you enjoy most about working in early childhood education?
I love working with children between two and five years old, knowing how important the first five years of a person’s life are. I find it a privilege to have positive input in a child’s life. Children are fascinating to me – I learn continually while engaging with them.
What will you be doing in your new role?
I’m very excited to start my new role as the Self-Review and Bicultural Leader for City Heights Montessori. My NZTC education helped me gain this new role in a much larger centre as I was able to assist the manager with some useful suggestions for their upcoming ERO visit - all of which I had learned from doing my study.
What are your goals for the future?
I am thinking about pursuing a Postgraduate Diploma in Education (ECE), after first having a break from study. I also hope to become a Head Teacher again in the future.