Nanny Deb - Active Explorers Highbrook

Published on Tuesday, 09 July 2019
Last updated on Tuesday, 31 December 2019

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Every month we profile an outstanding early childhood educator to showcase the extraordinary commitment and energy of Aotearoa’s early childhood workforce.

This month we are proud to introduce you to Nanny Deb from Active Explorers Highbrook. Nanny Deb is a real handy-woman and her biggest passions are recycling and sustainability.

Nanny Deb creates a range of educational resources for children at her centre by collecting unwanted items collected from kerbs, which she takes back to Active Explorers Highbrook, and transforms using her drill, hammer, nails, and paint. She often works with the children and some of the items they have built are:

  • A hotel for bugs
  • A hole-in-one golf ramp
  • A bus – made out of a log and recycled chairs the centre no longer uses
  • A car – made out of a large electrical spool, an old TV remote, some old keys and a pot of paint
  • A boat – made out of a wooden pallet, a wheel, an old duvet cover
  • A music wall
  • A music stage with instruments and all
  • An entire playground
  • A shop

Staff and parents at Active Explorers Highbrook are in awe of Nanny Deb's efforts and say that in addition to teaching the children about reusing and recycling they are showing families that it’s possible to have fun without spending a fortune on expensive toys and gadgets.

What is your full name?
My name is Deb Lawson, the kids call me Nanny Deb and I am 59 years old.

Which service do you work in? How many staff and children are in your service?
I work at Active Explorers – Highbrook and we provide education and care for 150 children.

What is your professional background and career experience?
I am a registered primary school teacher and I have a Diploma in teaching, Bachelor of Education, and Postgraduate in School Management. Previously, I have taught mainly intermediate school age and am now in early childhood education.

What attracted you to a career in the early childhood sector?
Having worked with older children I thought I would like a change. It is awesome to watch the little people grow and develop into thinking intelligent human beings. Also, I love the cuddles and interaction you can have with little ones.

What does a 'normal' day look like for you?
If I am in a classroom, I usually try to let the children make something so they can use my tools. The children love helping me pull pallets apart, drill screws, hammer things. I like to make sure they have something to take home with them.

What makes your service unique?
Our service is set in the middle of industry, which results in a very diverse community, culturally and socio-economically. In addition, our babies usually stay with us right through their early years and it is so great to see them growing up.

What are some of the biggest challenges facing the sector?
Finding teachers is definitely the biggest challenge in our service. Our teachers are so dedicated they come to work even when they are not well.

What advice would you offer someone thinking about the early childhood sector?
If you are motivated, passionate, loving, caring and ready to give anything a go then this is the career for you. Who knows, you may even have talents you didn’t know you had.

Remember to email if you know an amazing early childhood educator who deserves to be profiled in a forthcoming issue of this newsletter.

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