Joy Garcia, Centre Manager
What inspired you to work in ECE?
Coming from a medical field, my area of interest has always been in paediatrics. I was fascinated at a young age by the astounding pace at which the human brain develops in the first years of life. Child psychology too, was a precursor to my interest in working in ECE; children's ability to adapt and develop resilience to various life circumstances, though not fully understood even in today's scientific triumphs, has always been a compelling and inspiring subject for me. I’ve been working in ECE since 2003.
What do you love most about what you do?
Just like Loris Malaguzzi's "Hundred Languages of Children", I can think of a hundred great reasons (and more) that make me jump up each morning and walk back into the centre with a spring in my step! I am passionate about influencing teachers to create spaces for children that are not only physically challenging, cognitively stimulating and emotionally nurturing, but also spiritually uplifting. Ultimately, what drives this passion is my belief that every child deserves to feel safe, validated, and valued for everything that makes up who they are. I am honoured to belong to a team of professionals that ensure every child graduates from our premises with a lavish collection of beautiful memories of their childhood; and the hopefulness that no matter what obstacles the future brings them, they can overcome because they have been steeped in all the aroha their community could afford them during the five to six most critical years of their lives!
I know that my bridge towards this passion is by way only of genuine relationships. And with all 30 staff (and their families), 125 children, 250 parents, and at least 300 grandparents in my immediate circle of responsibility, the task can seem daunting at times. Every day, different challenges come our way, unexpected turn of events, plans going awry. But I see all of this as character building, which allows me to grow in my knowledge of my purpose as a human being, and my wisdom in relating with the 700+ functional relationships I must nurture daily in our learning community.
What sets your centre apart?
- Our values-based culture: we believe in integrity and respect; we apply an ethic-of-care approach in all of our interactions, with tamariki, with the whanau, with each other, and with our wider community. Our teachers take pride in our programmes and centre environments.
- We believe in the power of a genuinely inclusive learning community in shaping a future generation that is accepting of all differences. We work together with the whanau and other professional agencies to develop effective strategies to support the unique needs of all learners; and to foster the value of empathy as we learn and grow together.
- We are committed to strengthening our bicultural practice; and nurturing in our youngest citizens a sense of pride in Aotearoa New Zealand’s unique bicultural identity.
What is your favourite time of the year at the centre?
I look forward to all of our family events, especially parent-teacher meetings, as these occasions provide us with genuine opportunities to strengthen the connections we have built with our centre whanau. We enjoy seeking their feedback and appreciate their efforts to engage with our team and grow our partnership for the sake of the children.
What do you do with yourself when you are not working?
I devote my free time to creating beautiful memories with my family - my husband Kenneth and school aged daughter Kloe. Living on the Hibiscus Coast allows our family to enjoy the beautiful beaches, the laid-back culture, and the community spirit.
Bachelor of Nursing Degree (Cum Laude), Graduate Diploma in Teaching ECE, RIE Foundations Certificate (Theory & Observations)
Amanda Pritchard, Administrator
Amanda has been working for Pascals Albany since 2012. She is often the first of many warm and friendly smiles that greet you as you come through our doors. On top of being our most capable and dedicated full time administrator, Amanda is also currently studying towards her Early Childhood Teaching Degree extramurally. She and her husband are proud parents of 3 beautiful girls who have either attended or still are attending Pascals Albany. Amanda loves all sports and having a good laugh with her work colleagues.
Sheena Lising, Head Teacher (Nursery)
Sheena completed a Bachelor of Nursing Degree and had worked with infants overseas for 2 years before settling in New Zealand. She has a Graduate Diploma in Early Childhood Education (NZTC). She has been a nursery and a toddlers teacher before joining Pascals Albany in 2016. A mother herself (to 2 young beautiful children); Sheena is passionate about providing nurture, care, respect and love for our youngest learners; and creating an environment where they can feel secure, happy, and have a love for lifelong learning. Sheena’s leadership style is collaborative, honest and supportive.
Shelley Paddock, Interim Head Teacher (Toddlers)
Since joining the centre, I have been a Nursery teacher, Nursery head teacher, and Kindy teacher and offer expertise across all age groups. A mother of three grown up children and grandmother of three beautiful mokopuna, I understand full well the complexities and challenges of parenthood. I am always on hand to offer support and encouragement to any child, parent or colleague who needs it.
Bachelor of Education
Shiree Brock, Head Teacher (Preschool 1)
Shiree holds a Bachelor of Education (ECE Teaching) from AUT University. She has been a dedicated team member of our centre since 2011; and has since developed expertise in working with children ages 18 months to 3 ½. Shiree is a conscientious, diligent, highly professional leader with a quirky sense of humour, quiet confidence, and a sense of humility that may under-promise but will surely over-deliver. Shiree and her team strive to maintain a peaceful but engaging nature-inspired programme especially catered to younger preschoolers’ specific developmental needs.
Nicola Austin (Nic), Head Teacher (Preschool 2)
I have been a registered teacher since 1998 and have taught extensively in Brazil, Australia, and NZ, so I bring a wealth of cultural perspective to the centre. I enjoy meditative practices and strongly believe in the power of mindfulness and a harmonious classroom to promote children's holistic learning.
Diploma of Teaching, Fully Registered Teacher
Todd Goodman, Head Teacher (Kindy)
Todd has a Bachelor of Teaching (with Special Commendation, NZTC). He has been teaching at Pascals for 8 years – making him the longest serving staff member in the centre. He is also a father of 2 active young boys. He loves surfing, weight training and helping other people. As a teacher, Todd believes that all children have the right to education in a learning environment where they feel safe, respected and valued as individuals. Todd endeavours to enrich the centre with humour, energy and creativity.