EXCELLENCE IN TEACHING
Kindergarten children are climbing trees, catching tadpoles and guppies, going on bush walks, lighting pot fires with flints, cooking pizzas, growing vegetables and receiving visits from Guide Dogs Queensland and RACQ Safety thanks to their innovative teacher, Rebecca Stephens.
The Co-Director at C&K Strathpine Community Kindergarten (SCK), which has a much-loved off-site Bush Kindy program, also ensured children stayed connected during the COVID-19 remote learning restrictions this year by providing them with take-home activity bags. These bags gave families access to meaningful learning experiences during the lockdown.
SCK teaching assistant Hannah May says the number of families who return to the Centre ‘speaks volumes’ of the excellent dedication and care Rebecca shows her kindy kids and their families.
“Rebecca values each child’s learning experiences within her classroom and seeks out ways to support and foster a joy of learning for every child,” Hannah says.
Rebecca is in contact with her future students and their parents six months before the children even commence at the centre, via playdays, surveys, interviews, discussions with occupational and speech therapists, and in parent information evenings.
Once the children are at the kindergarten, Rebecca provides parents with daily diaries that have specific references to each child in her class, and she sets learning goals for the children, in conjunction with the children themselves and their parents. She creates Storypark profiles for each child that she works with, and these can be accessed by parents and any other invited family members.
“Rebecca is an advocate for every child who attends our Centre,” Hannah says. “She meets with local teachers and school networks to keep up-to-date of their expectations, thus ensuring a smooth transition to school for the children in her care.”
Rebecca, who has more than 20 years’ experience in early childhood centres, is also a strong advocate of SCK’s Bush Kindy program. She played a key role in ensuring all the licensing and documentation requirements were met.
“Rebecca believes in the value of play in a natural environment and this translates into meaningful experiences in our Bush Kindy setting. Rebecca takes care to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the children, whilst allowing them to have a sense of agency in their own learning,” Hannah says.
“The children have been involved in climbing walls with ropes, lighting pot fires with flints, using hand tools, going on bush walks, identifying flora and fauna, scrambling up hills, balancing on fallen logs, climbing trees and large rocks, throwing stones in the lake and catching tadpoles.”
The fun also happens inside the kindergarten where children cook, have grown a vegetable garden and created a paper-mâché solar system. They have special celebration days for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Grandparent’s Day, and Science Day. The children also take part in community barbeques and end of year celebrations, and receive visits from community organisations and librarians.
Rebecca represents SCK at local and regional professional networking and community events, and has contributed a great deal of her own time to leading and mentoring staff throughout the ACECQA (Australian Children’s Education & Care Quality Authority) Assessment and Rating process. The kindergarten has twice received an Exceeding rating under her guidance.
“Rebecca is a supportive, kind and caring colleague. She inspires those around her to achieve more and be more present in the classroom,” Hannah says.
“Her dedication to her role as an early childhood teacher and leader is exemplary and as her colleagues, we are honoured to share in her journey.”
Congratulations Rebecca on being shortlisted for the TEACHX Excellence in Teaching Award.