During her seven years at Big Fat Smile, Peta has gone from a high school graduate to an experienced Early Childhood leader in both long day care and OSHC services. We spoke to her about how it all started and how she has made it happen.
Growing up in a large family, Peta always knew working with children was her passion. During high school she chose elective subjects that counted towards her Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care. After high school, she was looking for somewhere to further her learning.
“My partner encouraged me to apply for a traineeship in a preschool. When I finished year 12, I saw an ad for a position at Reynold Street Community Preschool in Goulburn. Within a few weeks I had an interview and was successful in getting the job. As soon as I started, I knew that a career in Early Childhood Education and Care was for me.”
A year after she first set foot in Reynolds Street Community Preschool, Peta had completed her Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care. When we ask her what she loved most about her traineeship, she says that it was great being able to put her new skills and knowledge into practice by supporting children and planning and implementing activities based on their interest every day. She gives particular credit to her Director, Jo, as well as the other educators at the centre, and describe their guidance and support as ‘incredible’ and ‘wonderful’.
During her traineeship, Peta especially enjoyed learning about children’s development and how each child’s needs and ways of learning varies. So much so, that she decided to study her Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care to further her knowledge whilst still working full-time at Reynolds Street Community Preschool.
“Both working and studying full-time can have its challenges, but in the end, it was a very worthwhile experience. It worked well for me as I was able to put my on-the-floor-knowledge into my assignments. Working hands on definitely made studying easier.”
Big Fat Smile is currently promoting fee-free Diploma and Certificate III qualification to employees looking to upskill. What advise do you have for someone thinking about taking this opportunity?
“I am currently studying my Bachelor of Early Childhood Education, and I have learnt how to both study and work full-time. I design a timetable that allows me to achieve both my work goals and study goals. I encourage you to ask for advice when you don’t understand or are stuck. I am always happy to assist someone who is studying if they need help.”
After 3.5 years in the Goulburn service, Peta relocated to the Illawarra and transferred to a Diploma position at Kenny Street Community preschool in Wollongong. Here, Peta was entrusted with the position of Educational Leader, where she collaborated with and mentored the team on the curriculum and programme of the service.
Fast forward another two years and Peta was ready for her next leadership challenge as Director at our OSHC service West Wollongong Fun Club. She describes this as one of the highlights of her career at Big Fat Smile so far.
“I loved being able to build wonderful relationships with the children, the families and the educators in my team. Being able to support and guide the educators, to allow them to be the best educators they can be was very rewarding.”
In February 2022 Peta was seconded to a position in the compliance team, which has since become permanent. She sums up her journey at Big Fat Smile:
“It’s been a wonderful 7 years in the organisation, and I have loved building my career within Big Fat Smile. I look forward to many more years.”