Educator in the Spotlight: Reagan Morton
Educator in the Spotlight: Reagan Morton
The Australian early education sector is comprised of a range of people with diverse personal and professional experiences, but with one goal in common, to do their best to provide high quality learning for our children.
Every month we shine the spotlight on an outstanding educator to showcase the wonderful work happening within our community. This week meet Reagan Morton from Guardian Clayfield.
What is your name and where do you work?
My name is Reagan Elizabeth Morton I’m 34 years old and I work at Guardian Childcare and Education Clayfield. We have 16 Staff and 72 Children per day.
What is your professional background and career experience?
My first job as a teenager was a school holiday job as a pharmacy assistant at my father’s pharmacy - helping people with their scripts and manning the Christmas gift wrapping station! When I finished school, I worked in retail in and then as an administration officer. It wasn’t until I moved overseas that I discovered my passion for working with children.
What attracted you to a career in the early childhood sector?
After I had my two sons I moved to Vietnam. During that time, I was given the opportunity to lead the toddler group in an International School. This is where my passion for educating children began.
When I moved back to Australia I decided I wanted to explore a career in early childhood care and education, so I applied for a position with Guardian and began working in the nursery room. I worked hard to learn the ropes and proved my dedication and soon moved into the Room Leader position in the nursery.
During my time in the nursery, I was selected to roll out the pilot program for our Baby Nourish and Baby Welcome Project. The Baby Nourish project was dedicated to providing nutritious first meals for babies and working closely with families when introducing new foods to their baby’s diet.
We provided recipes for the families in our centre that they could cook at home, and also hosted events where families were able to come and spend a night with our chef to learn how to make some of the dishes we serve in the centre.
The Baby Welcome project was developed to work closely with families and help them and their baby’s successfully transition to child care.
We all know how special these little bundles of joy are to their families, and as educators we must make the child care experience as rewarding and stress-free as possible. We created first day cards, close relationships and bonds with children and families and created core groups within our nursery so families had that one key educator that could turn to for any information about their baby.
We developed very in-depth stay and play programs, where the key educator would be there from the start, consistently, to develop that strong bond with the baby and family.
The baby project was a huge success and was soon rolled out across all 120 Guardian Centres, with a Baby Ambassador now in every Guardian centre.
I was soon made responsible person within our centre and have just in the past month been promoted to assistant manager. I hope this step up will assist me to build on my close relationship with the families of Guardian, and mentor my fellow educators to be the best that Guardian Clayfield can be.
What does a ‘normal’ day look like for you?
As the responsible person in the centre and assistant centre manager, I open for the day and set up breakfast. I begin my day by greeting children and their families to the centre, continuing to build on our already established relationships, and guiding the team through a successful start to the day.
I then move onto to guiding my nursery team in the daily routine of ensuring our children’s needs are being met and that they are engaged in meaningful and exciting experiences.
During the day I also get some programming done and love nothing more than spending some special one-on-one time with my babies! Now I am being trained as assistant centre manager I am also learning the ropes of the admin duties required to run a centre. It’s a wonderful learning opportunity.
What makes your service unique?
Here at Clayfield, we are an open-plan centre, which means we don’t have sectioned off rooms. We have one big area where all the children can interact together and our youngest have the opportunity to learn and grow with our older children, while the older children have the opportunity to mentor and role model for the younger children. It’s a wonderful dynamic for everyone involved.
What are some of the advantages of working in early childhood education and care?
We have the opportunity to build amazing relationships with families, children and co-workers that become a big part of your life. There aren’t many jobs which can truly make a meaningful impact in the lives of others.
What are some of the biggest challenges facing the sector?
The biggest challenges I have found in the sector is support our educators to maintain a work/life balance, and take a moment to fill their own cups to avoid burnout. Sometimes we all need to take a moment to identify how we are feeling, then do something to help us connect to our wellbeing. As assistant centre manager this is something I will be focussing on for my team.
How has your service changed to deal with these challenges?
Providing training and organising social evenings once a month for the staff to connect as a team and to our purpose as a provider of care and education.
How does the early childhood industry need to change to adapt to these challenges?
The sector needs to provide more incentive programs for educators to support work/life balance.
What advice would you offer someone thinking about a career or looking for a promotion in early childhood education and care?
If you have a passion for children, I would definitely encourage you to think about beginning your journey in early childhood care and education. The relationships and special moments you get to share with these wonderful little people can be one of the most fulfilling and rewarding experiences you will ever have.
This child care article was last reviewed or updated on Thursday, 13 May 2021
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