Inspiring Wollongong educator wants to open a service which focuses on inclusivity
For Katie McLelland, the dream of opening an early childhood education and care (ECEC) service which focuses on the inclusion of children with additional needs isn’t one which is driven by altruism, or a unique selling point – it’s a deeply personal connection.
Katie, who recently completed a Bachelor of Early Childhood Education at TAFE NSW Shellharbour, has been motivated by her own struggles with inclusion during her education, as she lives with osteopetrosis, causing her bones to harden and dissolve, making breaks a common feature in her life.
At the age of 28, Katie is approaching 50 broken bones, but that hasn’t stopped her in working towards her goals, the next step of which is to open a service in the Illawarra region, which welcomes children who may need additional support, and also reflects her First Nations heritage.
Having begun her professional journey by enrolling in a Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care at TAFE NSW after leaving school and said, her passion for the ECEC sector, and her confidence, has grown, seeing her through to complete both Diploma and Bachelor qualifications.
“Once I started studying, I became so fascinated by early childhood development and how important the first five years is in a child’s brain,” Ms McLelland said.
“I had such a supportive experience at TAFE NSW, I thought I would continue my journey there. The more I learned the more I wanted to know, and I wanted to go as far as I could in the career.”
That career has spanned a number of roles, including Director and Supervisor positions, before landing her current position, after the birth of her first child, as the educational leader at Happy Hearts Academy in Helensburgh.
Far from being done, Ms McLelland is now interested in pursuing a Masters of Education as well as her ‘passion project’ of opening an inclusive child care centre in the region.
“Inclusiveness is my passion. I grew up breaking bones and knowing too well what it felt like to not be a typical kid,” she said. “I want to ensure every child has the best start to life, regardless of the hand they’ve been dealt.”
For more information about studying with TAFE NSW phone 13 16 01 or visit www.tafensw.edu.au.