An important and popular feature of our weekly newsletter for early childhood education and care providers is our profiles on dynamic and inspirational people working in the sector.
This month meet Desirree Needs, a teacher from Omokoroa Preschool in the small urban area in the Western Bay of Plenty District.
This privately owned early childcare centre caters for ages 0 through to 5-years-of-age and is committed to ‘weaving an environment of play and discovery, for lifelong learning and growth.’
Tell me about yourself and how long you've been teaching?
Hi there, I'm Desirree Needs. I have been working in the education sector for ten years, teaching to a wide range of ages and differing abilities. During this time I have enjoyed organising, and becoming involved in, community programmes such as environmental teams, netball coaching, and visits to local retirement villages.
What drew you to a career in early childhood?
Working with young people is a very rewarding career pathway. In early childhood, I particularly enjoy caring for tamariki and enabling them to discover new interests and develop skill sets. Through play-based learning, children can discover what constitutes a good choice and this in turn informs their understanding of the tools they will require to succeed.
My goal in ECE is to provide a safe and nurturing environment that supports children when filling their kete of knowledge and developing new abilities.
Favourite things about your role?
Each day provides an opportunity to work with the little people from our fantastic community. Good communication is an important part of my practice and I enjoy sharing and learning with colleagues, children, and their whānau. I also get to put into practice creative activities that derive from the children's interests and developmental needs. That look of recognition or a child's sense of achievement always makes my day!
What do you feel is special about the way Omokoroa Preschool cares for and helps children develop?
We have an excellent team who work hard together to provide a fulfilling programme for the different age groups. Together we interact with the tamariki and use our collective skills to promote a healthy and happy atmosphere for young people to grow.
Instilling the importance of basic life skills, and facilitating opportunities to practice these, is at the heart of our preschool. A perfect example of this occurs during shared lunch eating sessions. Our tamariki sit together, learn to hold a conversation and master cutlery, all whilst enjoying nourishing and nutritious food. We are very fortunate to have an amazing in-house chef who provides everyone with a balanced diet that recognises special dietary and health requirements.
Anything you'd like to add about your role or spending time with the children and your preschool community?
At Omokoroa Preschool we value community and look for opportunities for our tamariki to immerse in local opportunities, such as visits to our Fire Station, Mainly Music, and storytelling at the new community library. These valuable experiences help foster a sense of belonging and strengthen connections.
Mainly Music is designed to engage children through music. The weekly sessions are full of songs and rhymes, actions, and movement that allows children freedom to express their imagination, find enjoyment in the educational moments, and participate in a group activity.
In regards to the Fire Station visit, the children had been interested in fire engines and fire fighters for a few months and when we organised the fire station trip, they were beyond excited. The children sat down and listened intently to the Fire Officer, who explained the array of responsibilities they have. They emphasised when and how to contact the emergency department, and what to do in case of a fire. The children asked questions such as “Why do they wear suits?” and, “Was it hard to put out a fire?”
The children were able to tour the Fire Station, which they loved but their favourite part was sitting in the fire truck, and wearing the firemen helmets. After the visit, the children shared their experiences with their families, who were very impressed that their children had retained a large amount of information about firemen, and fire trucks.