Hello, my name is Miss Karen and I wanted to take the time to share a little bit about myself. I am the CEO of Mother Duck Childcare Centres and have had the privilege of holding this position for just over 10 years. The team of Franchisees, Nominated Supervisors and Educational Leaders that I am gifted to serve are a team that continually challenge and stretch me to grow, not only as a leader but as a person.
So, let me take you on a little journey because although I am “CEO”, my heart for children and why I do what I do has a back story…
I have worked at Mother Duck since 1998. My first role was as the “Preschool Teacher” (there was different terminology all those years ago) at our Carindale Centre. I had just completed my Bachelor of Education (Early Childhood) and whilst most of my university friends went to work in Early Primary, I declined a position with Education Queensland as I was so passionate about the birth to 5 years sector. The knowledge I had gained regarding brain development in the first 5 years of a child’s life completely amazed me and was one of the most compelling reasons I chose a career in “Preschool”- I wanted to be a part of Early Childhood development!
After two years working directly with children (and yes it was a steep learning curve but one I will never forget), I accepted an owner/operator position at the newly purchased Manly Centre in 2000, and then progressed to the role of CEO in 2010. Whilst I have progressed in my career, the Kindergarten Year is something that I have always felt is close to my heart and something still today I am extremely passionate about.
From my original degree I have maintained abreast of Early Childhood and Education throughout my 20 plus year career. I am extremely passionate about professional learning, growth, and development and this desire to invest in the ongoing education of our educators and teachers forms a crucial part of the Mother Duck Childcare culture. I do not believe any other Early Childhood Education facility in South East Queensland has the same commitment to time, resources, and money that we put into the further professional development of all our educators.
The Mother Duck Management Committee decides all the operational decisions at our Centres. It is democratic and all members on the Committee (apart from the original founder) hold Early Childhood qualifications. Our Mother Duck Management Committee and dedicated educators have been working on the “Reconfiguring Quality Project” under the direction of Dr Deborah Harcourt over many years which has resulted in many positive changes in our service delivery and outcomes for children.
I have shared with you a snippet of my professional journey, but just as all of us are shaped by our personal journey, I can’t leave that out as it has shaped who I am and my passion for young children. I am a single Mum to a teenage daughter. Next year she commences her Senior schooling and I am excited for this new journey for her. However, I can still remember the anxiety that I experienced in her Kindergarten year and as she transitioned to school. Upon reflection, this time in my life as a parent was the most anxious I have ever felt in her entire schooling as I was, just like all parents, wanting the best start for her in her formal schooling year. I look back upon this time and the memories and experiences my daughter and I had continues to shape the work that I am a part of leading in Mother Duck.
Which brings me to where Mother Duck Childcare is at today! Whilst “school readiness” is important, unfortunately, this “readiness” can sometimes make us as adults in our children’s worlds a little “short-sighted”. We become preoccupied with how still our children can sit on a school mat, how well they hold their pencil or if they can count to 10. These skills, though they perhaps have a place, often replace what children need not only for “school readiness”, but “readiness for life”.
“Healthy development in the early years (particularly birth to three) provides the building blocks for educational achievement, economic productivity, responsible citizenship, lifelong health, strong communities, and successful parenting of the next generation.” – (source: https://developingchild.
Whilst our society values formal schooling above early childhood education, the truth is your child has already formed the foundation for all future learning from Birth to 3 years old. I hope you can take the time to watch this TED Talk from Sir Ken Robinson below. Please remember to keep in mind not only Prep entry but preparation for life…
My role now in the organisation as CEO is one I enjoy and see as an incredible privilege, and yet, at the heart of this “CEO” is a Kindergarten Teacher and a mother who is being constantly challenged to ask a question that extends beyond “What Do I Want my Child to Be?” to, “WHO Do I Want My Child to Be?”.
I hope you will join me on this journey as we all work together to impact young lives that are the future adult citizens and leaders of our society.