MercyCare’s Courtney Barnard is leading quality across services at just 26 years of age
When early childhood educator Courtney Barnard began her early childhood education and care (ECEC) career as an assistant educator at MercyCare Bennett Springs Early Learning Centre, she never imagined that she would one day be Mission and Quality Project Lead across MercyCare’s 14 centres, let alone by the age of 26.
Ms Barnard was fast tracked into the position, a spokesperson said, when she made an impression on her colleagues as an assistant educator, working with toddlers and preschoolers.
“The most rewarding part of being an educator is watching them grow from little children to little people,” she said.
“And in doing that, it’s helped me stay true to myself, because when you want little people to grow up and be the best person they can be, you need to be the best person you can be.”
While employed as an assistant educator, she was encouraged to enrol in and complete a Diploma in Early Childhood Education and Care, quickly becoming the room leader for the toddlers.
“I poured my heart and soul into it and loved coming into work every day,” she said.
What followed was a string of career growth opportunities for Courtney, which included being promoted to the role of assistant manager and, later, acting centre manager, each time with the encouragement and support of her co-workers.
“Whenever I’ve applied for a higher role, it was never really off my own back, I was encouraged to by others,” she said.
“I didn’t see my own potential but MercyCare and the staff around me encouraged me to apply and gave me the support I needed.”
Ms Barnard quickly drew the attention of MercyCare Executive Director of Early Learning Services Rosina Smith, who then approached her about a newly created role as Mission and Quality Lead, working within the Early Learning Services team at head office.
The Mission and Quality Lead role involves overseeing programs like protective behaviours and safeguarding children, ensuring that all of MercyCare’s ethos and values are upheld, making sure the Reconciliation Action Plan is supported, and along with that, collaborating with others across the organisation.
“For me, I love collaborating. So being able to connect, reach out, network and collaborate with more directorates and more people really appealed to me,” Ms Barnard explained.
“Not only that, it was also knowing that I have the potential in the curriculums we roll out (at the centres) to influence more children and help support educators so that they have the skills to support our children.”
Now, instead of just having influence in the lives of the 130 children that are at Bennett Springs, she is able to indirectly work with children across all of MercyCare’s centres.
Despite still being new to the role, Ms Barnard said she has already envisioned how she can make a difference by implementing small steps towards change across MercyCare’s network.
“Something else I’ve been working on that will be ongoing, which is a real passion of mine, is supporting the mental wellbeing and health of our staff and children and making sure they have all the tools and can access the right resources,” she said.
To learn more about MercyCare, please see here.
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