Rebecca Slade

Josie, Educator at Warrawong Community Preschool, is passionate about creating a service where everyone is welcome, valued and supported – regardless of needs and differences. After 8 years at Big Fat Smile, Josie recognises the importance of working together, supporting each other to achieve this outcome. And how the professional development opportunities provided to her has been instrumental in building her confidence and growing her capabilities.

Although confidence has come with time and numerous professional development opportunities, Josie has been supporting vulnerable children to feel safe and have a strong sense of well-being and to encourage learning at Big Fat Smile right from the start:

‘I started my traineeship with Big Fat Smile in a service with children who had experienced trauma and were displaying high needs behaviours. My traineeship was a challenge, but the positive outcomes we as a team created for children and families made it so rewarding.’

Upon completing her traineeship Josie’s passion only flourished further and in 2020 she embarked on the journey of completing her Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care. After completing her Diploma in just 9 months, Josie was hungry for more knowledge and enrolled in a Bachelor of Education (0-5) degree at Charles Sturt University.

Here, professional learning and growth is at the heart of everything we do. Josie has seen the benefits of being supported from on a local level in her service, as well as from the head office teams:

‘With my studies, I’m not just supported by my service Director, but also the Big Fat Smile People & Learning team has been supportive with study assistance. The people team also supported my application for a scholarship, which I was granted. I’ve also had the opportunity to attend Big Fat Smile funded professional learning, including the Inspire Conference in March this year.’

Although Josie has already moved from Trainee to Educational Leader and 2IC, Josie sees the opportunity for continued career growth at Big Fat Smile once her studies are complete.

My role at Big Fat Smile has already provided the opportunity for significant long-term, meaningful growth. From unsure trainee to a confident educational leader and second-in-charge. I expect to continue this trajectory and move into an Early Childhood Teacher position, and into other leadership opportunities once I complete my study.’

And on top of obtaining a leadership position, Josie wants to continue her advocacy work around children’s rights, safeguarding children and professional recognition of the early education sector upon completing her studies:

My purpose at Big Fat Smile is to make a difference. To support children and their families to feel safe and have a strong sense of wellbeing. To empower and support the educators in my team to be early childhood educators whose every focus is the children and quality education and care.’

Thank you for everything you do for the Big Fat Smile children and families, Josie.

Related blogs