G8 Education Centre Leaders celebrated at annual awards gala

G8 Education has celebrated its Centre Leaders at its annual Centre Manager Awards as part of the 2023 G8 National Conference.

Sabrina Syamando, Centre Manager of Creative Garden Mount Annan was amongst the award winners, awarded Centre Manager of the Year and the Environment and Sustainability Award.

“I come to work every day wanting to strive for excellence for my team, the children in our care and their families, and so it is truly humbling to be recognised in this way,” said Ms Syamando.

“I am so proud to lead the long-standing, talented team of educators and teachers at Creative Garden Mount Annan who deliver fun and engaging learning experiences for children day in, day out.”

The G8 Education award recognition follows the centre receiving “Exceeding” from the Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA) in a recent assessment. 

“Though we have met our Exceeding rating target and I have been recognised as part of the G8 Centre Manager Awards, the progress doesn’t stop; we want to continue improving and creating a sustainable future for our community.”

For Ms Syamando and her team sustainability is something which is embedded in their practice and the children’s days.

From splitting out their meal leftovers into general waste, recycling and compost, to helping their educators with the vegetable garden upkeep, feeding their chickens and thinking of creative ways to reuse and recycle when crafting their own projects, sustainability is at the heart of it all.

“We promote children’s agency and independence by allowing them to actively participate in meeting our sustainability goals,” said Ms Syamando.

“We are educating the leaders of the future and so we want to build those leadership and innovation capabilities from an early age.”

G8 Education CEO Pejman Okhovat said he applauded all of the Centre Leaders recognised for their excellence.

“The dedication these leaders have for supporting the best outcomes for our children and teams every day is remarkable,” he said.

“I am so proud to stand alongside such amazing leaders and all of our team of educators and teachers because I know how important the work they do is in laying the foundations for children’s learning, development and wellbeing during the critical first five years of life.”

All the award winners will have the chance to go on an international study tour to New Zealand later this year, facilitated by Childspace Early Childhood Institute.

The 2023 G8 National Conference entitled Belong, Inspire, Transform was the 6th conference held by the provider, and saw more than 500 delegates travel from across the country for the three-day agenda.

If you’d like to learn more about G8 Education and the benefits for working for the national provider, you can visit the Careers website.

Centre Manager Award recipients:

  • Transformation Award: Venita Rutley, Centre Manager at Community Kids Heatley QLD
  • Rising Star Award: Hannah Jordan, Centre Manager at The Learning Sanctuary Mary Street QLD
  • Business Award: Kimberley Fuller, Nurture One Wangaratta VIC
  • Family and Community Award: Venita Rutley, Centre Manager at Community Kids Heatley QLD
  • Safety Award: Amy McCormack, Centre Manager, Community Kids Narre Warren VIC
  • Environment and Sustainability Award: Sabrina Syamando, Centre Manager at Creative Garden Mount Annan NSW
  • Quality Practice Award: Pavithra De Alwis, Centre Manager at Kindy Patch Clarinda
  • Culture and Team Engagement Award: Julie Turner, Centre Manager at Great Beginnings Kenwick WA
  • Team Development Award: Sara McCulloch, Centre Manager at Aldinga Kinder Haven SA
  • Centre Manager of the Year Award: Sabrina Syamando, Centre Manager at Creative Garden Mount Annan NSW
  • Area Manager of the Year Award: Cassandra Black, Area Manager in Victoria

G8 Education establishes “think tank” Education Advisory Committee

G8 Education is tapping into some of early learning’s brightest minds, establishing a “think tank” style Education Advisory Committee of sector experts to continue to drive innovation and quality across its national network.

“The Education Advisory Committee allows our G8 team to exchange insights with recognised experts and engage with cutting edge research in early education,” said Dr Julie Cogin, G8 Education Board Member.

“We aim to create a think tank environment so that researchers can integrate their discoveries into learning centres to accelerate joint education goals.”

G8 Education’s Head of Early Learning and Education Ali Evans, Education Manager Innovative and Partnerships, Dr Mia Christensen and Dr Cogin were joined by Sue Grieshaber, Catharine Hydon and Sonia White at the advisory committee’s first meeting last month.

“I am honoured to be part of the G8 Education Advisory Committee,” said La Trobe University’s Professor Grieshaber.

“I forward to working with the Committee to enact the G8 strategic plan which includes providing innovative and high-quality early childhood education to support children and families to achieve their potential.”

Dr Cogin said this is just part of G8 Education’s commitment to delivering high quality, innovative education experiences.

“The G8 Education board is firmly committed to the dissemination of learnings to advance the quality of early education in Australia,” said Dr Cogin.

“One of the programs of work will be the role of technologies in a child’s development and how it can be used to enhance cognitive and social abilities.”

Ali Evans said: “Our thought leaders will provide insights and feedback to ensure our Education Strategy is contemporary and reflective of current innovation and trends in the early childhood sector.”

“I believe it is crucial to have an external critical thinking lens in providing feedback on our strategy to ensure we continue to provide transformative early learning programs.”

The Education Advisory Committee will be meeting throughout the year to progress projects and initiatives.

G8 Education’s Ali Evans appointed to the Early Childhood Australia National Board

G8 Education’s Head of Early Learning and Education Ali Evans has been appointed to the Early Childhood Australia National Board.

The announcement follows Ali’s most recent role with ECA as Queensland Chair, and also her recent appointment to the Thriving Queensland Kids Partnership Leadership Table.

“I find the collegiality and professionalism of working with colleagues across organisations and sectors so beneficial and supportive,” said Ms Evans.

“Collective impact can be very powerful.

“I am so honoured to be joining the ECA National Board, and look forward to working with the board and our members to improve outcomes for Australian children.”

ECA National President Trevor Brown said: “Early Childhood Australia is very pleased to welcome Alison Evans to the National Board.”

“Ali’s wealth of experience, leadership capability and deep insight into the early years is highly valued and will be influential in guiding ECA’s work into the future.”

Since her appointment to G8 Education’s executive team last year, Ms Evans has been committed to continuously building on its sector-leading education strategy. 

“G8 Education is incredibly privileged to have someone of Ali’s calibre, experience and expertise within our leadership team,” said G8 Education CEO Pejman Okhovat.

“On behalf of G8 Education I want to congratulate Ali on her appointment to the ECA National Board.

“I know you will continue to advocate for the children, families and teams in our centres, and in all early learning settings across Australia in your new role.”

G8 Education early learning centres bring smiles to children in hospital this Easter

Everyone deserves a bit of joy at Easter, so on Monday 3 April Sydney’s Greenwood Early Learning Centres and Smiles2U brought the Easter Bunny to children staying at WISE Specialist Emergency Clinic, Northern Beaches Hospital and Royal North Shore Hospital.

Smiles2U create packages to deliver to children in hospital to keep them entertained and bring joy to their day. The packages can include activity books, little toys, teddy bears, stickers and colouring pencils but this Easter weekend Smiles2U is playing Easter Bunny.

Greenwood is part of the G8 Education network, one of Australia’s largest providers of early childhood education and care, focused on its purpose of creating the foundations for learning for life.

In the lead up to Easter, children at Greenwood Early Learning Centres across Sydney have been collecting Easter Eggs to donate to the local hospitals.

Greenwood Early Learning Centre Area Manager Rhiannon Nohra said that the centres wanted to give back to their community this Easter and collaborating with Smiles2U was a perfect way to get their children involved.

“Supporting these hospitals is very close to our heart as they’re the local hospitals for many of our children and families,” Ms Nohra said.

“In giving back this Easter, we wanted to encourage and teach our children to give back to their community. They found it very empowering to know that they are helping their peers, and the fact that they got to help them with chocolate was an added bonus.

“Our children have all been loving this experience! We hear them chatting about it to their parents in the foyer and one of our centres has even set up a station to make cards to go along with the Easter Eggs,” she said.

Smiles2U Founder Michelle Key said that aligning themselves with an established company like Greenwood Early Learning Centres was a brilliant opportunity.

“We’ve been overwhelmed by the number of eggs donated by the Greenwood Early Learning Centres,” Ms Key said.

“Smiles2U is a registered charity. We have no corporate sponsorships and rely solely on donations so receiving this support from Greenwood Early Learning Centre’s is so appreciated.

“Smiles2U was created by a group of mums because we all had experience of our children being in hospital. We know that a lot of patience, distraction and ideas are needed to keep a young child comfortable in hospital, so we try to ease the burden with our packs.

“Families are always so amazed and overwhelmed when they receive our packages. It makes all the hard work we do worth it knowing the difference we have made for them in a place no one wants to be.”

Smiles2U supports 13 hospitals with care packages, smiles bags, cancer care packs and comfort for those who find themselves in hospitals unexpectedly.

If you would like to donate to Smiles2U, head to the Smiles2U website where you can donate or pay it forward by buying a bag of their Easter gingerbread.

G8 Education educator named Gold Coast’s favourite early learning professional

Kool Kids Early Learning Ashmore’s lead educator Bec Whiting has been named as the Gold Coast’s favourite early learning professional by Gold Coast Bulletin readers.

The Labrador resident has lived in the Gold Coast her whole life and has worked in childcare for almost 40 years. From school she wanted to pursue the passion for teaching young children she discovered when helping with the creche at her local church.

Now a valued lead educator at Kool Kids Early Learning Ashmore, Ms Whiting said that Kool Kids was her home away from home.

“I’ve worked at Kool Kids for almost 12 years, it’s small and homely and I love it. Even on my holidays I still pop in to see my children and the team. They ask me why I’m there and I simply reply that I just love it.

“I work in the nursery room and I’m very passionate about giving the babies all the comfort and affection they need to feel settled as well as reassuring the parents because it’s often the first time they are leaving their child.

“I like to build relationships with the families, get to know them and send them lots of photos of their babies so they can see they’re enjoying socialising with other children and exploring their world,” she said.

“Sometimes families will arrive with the children still in pyjamas and juggling a million things at once and they apologise so I like to be that support who can say to them, ‘it’s ok, don’t worry, I can do this for you’.”

Ms Whiting used to run a playgroup for single mums 13 years ago. There, she was able to support mothers who were often quite nervous on their parenting journeys.

“I loved talking to the mums and helping them where I could. It was so rewarding to see them come back and feel more comfortable with motherhood. I’m still in contact with them and some of their children are now adults with their own children. I love forming those relationships.

“I don’t expect to receive things in this job, I do it for the children and the families, but receiving the recognition that I’ve helped means the world.”
It was through nurturing these family relationships that Ms Whiting learnt she had been named as the Gold Coast’s favourite early learning professional.

“One of the parents messaged me privately and said congratulations. I didn’t know what she was talking about until she forwarded me the link and I just burst into tears. I cried all day because I felt so loved.

“My colleague Kim and I were just screaming and jumping up and down with excitement. I even got emails from current and former parents saying that they couldn’t vote but wanted to and were so happy I won.

“I really can’t explain how it all made me feel, it’s just a beautiful feeling knowing that families that used to come here still think of me. I feel privileged and loved and it’s so special.”

Ms Whiting sums up her average day at Kool Kids with the word “sweaty”.

Her day starts at 6:30am to set up and organise the Zen Garden next to the baby’s room. Then the children arrive, have breakfast and the day does not stop until 2:30pm when Ms Whiting goes home.

“We try to follow the baby’s routine as much as possible and the parents tell me what they would like. So, when there are four babies in a room and potentially four different routines, you’re never sitting down.”

Ms Whiting said that her experiences in the sector have definitely changed over the years.

“When I was an assistant educator, I didn’t see the paperwork side because I was too busy playing! Once I became a lead, I got to be a lot more involved with the children and helping them grow.

“The sector is just going to keep getting better. I love mentoring the younger educators here. We make this bond and I want to see them grow, explain things to them and give them encouragement that they can do anything they want to. A lot of people I’ve mentored are lead educators now and I’m so proud of them.”

Kool Kids is part of G8 Education and is one of more than 430 early learning centres around the country offering quality early learning education and care.

G8 Education Regional Manager Kylie Van Der Stok said that they were so proud of Ms Whiting for the award .

“It’s wonderful to see Bec’s ongoing dedication to early learning recognised in this way.

“At a time when we are wanting to attract more educators to the sector, it’s great to emphasise what really makes this work so special – making connections with children and families that create the foundations for learning for life.”