Educator In the spotlight: Ellen Tsagaris
Educator In the spotlight: Ellen Tsagaris
A popular feature of our weekly newsletter for early childhood education and care providers is our profiles on dynamic and inspirational people working in the early education sector.
This week meet Ellen Tsagaris from First Steps Early Education in NSW, a long day care service with 9 educators and a director. Thirty-eight children attend the service every day, with 20 in the preschool room, 10 in the toddler room and 8 in the nursery.
What is your professional background and career experience?
I began working in early childhood education and care after I left high school in 2004 and completed my Diploma in Children's Service part time. I have since then worked in long day care services, OOSHC and started my own home day care service in 2010.
What attracted you to a career in the early childhood sector?
I began a career in children's service looking forward to watching future generations grow and develop and helping them to achieve, that seemed like a very special career path for me. Something that holds significant value to me to this day.
What does a ‘normal’ day look like for you?
My day starts off with getting my two children ready for the day (Samson 7 years old and Solomon 2 years old). I then move onto preparing myself for the rest of the day by ensuring an organised room with open-ended spaces/ resources, the children's interests must be captured in the room and we focus on instilling an awareness of Indigenous culture.
What makes your service unique?
Our service is a relatively new opening its doors in 2017. I began my journey at our sister service last year as the director there for a maternity leave cover. Since completing that role I now find myself as the educational leader where I am so happy to say I have finally found my permanent place in the Children's Services Industry.
This service being privately run offers extreme support from all management parties. Having people who work with you who are able to understand your family circumstances and offer unconditional support is something I find rare in this industry. I also find that management are extremely hands-on and offer appreciation and praise to the work we put in as educators every day.
What are some of the advantages of working in early childhood education and care?
I find that the advantages of working in early childhood education are the opportunities to continue to develop professionally. Keeping up to date with the latest regulations, child protection and first aid are crucial to being a part of this sector. Ensuring that we can support others through what we understand and learn to know helps with the next educator beginning their journey into early education.
What are some of the biggest challenges facing the sector?
The challenges we face in this sector on a personal level is that our work is under appreciated by all government bodies. People seem to think we purely come to work and play with children all day. I am sure that those of us working in early childhood education and care can, shake their heads, and say with absolute certainty that this is not the case. Having so much pressure on us as educators by ACECQA, Regulatory Authorities and ensuring that we are guided by the NQS is no easy task.
How has your service changed to deal with these challenges?
Here at First Steps the drive that is behind the management team and all other educators is amazing. We are passionate and this shows through in our willingness to accept change when it happens. Through all the changes that recently occurred due to the pandemic, all educators have put their best foot forward and taken on board the changes that were put in place. Whether it was increasing cleaning around the service, staying back to complete room changes, losing time off the floor to accommodate ratios etc. We did it we all pulled through.
How does the early childhood industry need to change to adapt to these challenges?
The industry I believe needs to start listening to us as educators to make us feel more valued. What do we feel about the process of being a mandatory reporter, how do we feel about the process of assessment and rating and somebody analysing what we are doing in the space of 8 hours and judge the service off such a short period of time.
What advice would you offer someone thinking about a career or looking for a promotion in early childhood education and care?
If you are looking at opening yourself up to joining this industry I say jump aboard. Working with children is a rewarding process and you build such loving and caring bonds with them and their families. It is wonderful to see that within your small workspace and the immediate community how much we are succeeding in guiding the children to be more and to accomplish and achieve what they wish at the highest of standards.
For those out there who are in the Industry and have been for a while I say it's time to open yourselves up to change. We need to begin to understand that change is good. Change is moving forward, learning and growing. The industry is constantly changing and unless we change with it we end up falling behind and our families and children suffer.
I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to my First Steps Family for making me feel welcome and supported. I am so glad that I have, after these 16 years, found my forever. To the management team at First Steps, you are amazing and without you guys behind me I would not have believed in myself to accomplish what I have in the past 12 months.
This child care article was last reviewed or updated on Wednesday, 21 October 2020
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