Name: Ramona Millen
Qualification: Graduate Diploma of Teaching (ECE)
Position: Teacher at Morepork’s Preschool
Ramona Millen believes the most important thing she can do for the children in her care is to enjoy her job.
“Happy teachers make for happy children,” says the 26 year old Graduate Diploma in Teaching (ECE) student. “We’ve had a lot of feedback from parents saying we work really well together as a team and that shows in the children. In all respects. We show that we trust each other and that we trust the children, and this means they won’t test the boundaries as much.”
Ramona has been working at Morepork’s Preschool in Blenheim shortly after it opened last March. Here she’s gained valuable experience as a member of a founding team, by helping to increase enrolments, establish a positive reputation in the community and set up the rooms and routines.
Ramona, who holds a Bachelor of Visual Arts, has quickly become known by her colleagues for sharing her passion for art and the environment with the children.
Right now her room’s focus is on gardening: “We’ve been planting a range of vegetables. It’s been very exciting to see the children showing such a keen interest in respecting and caring for their environment. It’s been a really special time.” In an effort to involve the families in the children’s learning, last month Ramona sent home some sunflower seeds for the children to plant with their parents. “We’ve had parents and children come in and say, ‘our sunflower’s 10 centimetres now!,’ and plenty have come in with donations of other plants! It’s great to see that they want to be involved and to continue what we’ve been learning at the centre at home, and we always make sure to acknowledge them for this.”
She also loves baking at her centre, believing the hobby supports children’s social skills as they work together and take turns.
Recently she noticed the children had become very interested in dress up and role play, so she organised a dress up day. This was really successful with the Blenheim Sun coming in to take photos.
The best part of her work, she says, is spending one on one time with the children in the more unstructured time in the afternoons. She mainly works with the two to three and a half year olds – a challenging age group as there is a “huge” difference between a just-turned 2 year old and a three and a half year old. “I love their imaginations; the way they don’t know what’s possible or impossible yet and introducing them to new ways of doing things.”
Ramona was first introduced to the colourful world of early childhood education when she was offered some relief teaching at another centre after returning from her OE. She quickly realised how much she enjoyed young children and within only a couple of weeks she had signed a full time fixed contract. She decided to look into studying and eventually enrolled in the Graduate Diploma in Teaching (Early Childhood Education) at NZTC, as the online mode of delivery meant she could start straight away. It also meant she could stay in her home with her partner which has helped with paying the mortgage. “Everything’s fallen into place for me from the beginning…. and while studying and teaching at the same time has been full-on, I’ve enjoyed every part of it.”
Ramona especially appreciated the Treaty of Waitangi workshop she had on her first block course. This was the first workshop where she was able to understand the Treaty’s connections to her teaching on a deeper level.
Field practice placements have allowed her to practice her newfound knowledge in different settings and her Visiting Lecturers have noted her initiative and willingness to go ‘the extra mile’ in her reflections and written tasks.
Her goal after gaining her qualification is to extend on her te reo Māori knowledge. “Somewhere down the line I would also like to do some leadership or managerial study. But first I want to be able to focus on work and have my weekends back!”
If you want to make a difference in the lives of the next generation like Ramona, please call (09) 520 4000 or email Enrolments.