Exceptional leaders celebrated at 2022 G8 National Conference
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Exceptional leaders celebrated at 2022 G8 National Conference

by Freya Lucas

June 02, 2022

Centre managers, area managers, regional managers and support office team members from across G8 Education’s network of approximately 450 services recently came together to celebrate their success during an exceptionally challenging period in the early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector, spending three days of learning and collaboration at the 2022 G8 Education National Conference


The conference theme – Reconnect – was fitting given the pandemic related challenges which limited opportunities for the group of leaders to meet face-to-face. 


“It was nice to finally be able to reconnect, collaborate and celebrate what our team has achieved over the past two years together,” said G8 Education CEO Gary Carroll.  


As well as exploring vital professional development topics such as the neuroscience behind the early years, the significant role of fun and laughter in learning environments, and the importance of inclusion, the conference was an opportunity to recognise exceptional leaders in the network across eight categories, namely: 


  • Area Manager of the Year 
  • Centre Manager of the Year 
  • People Award Centre Manager 
  • Most Improved Centre Manager 
  • Rookie Centre Manager 
  • Sustainability 
  • Quality 
  • Safety. 


Yvonne Mc Dermott took out Area Manager of the Year, Fadia Yammine from Community Kids Merrylands secured People Award Centre Manager, Renee Kennedy of Greenwood Dural was the Most Improved Centre Manager, Julie Wilshire of Great Beginnings Mt Clear was awarded for her focus on Safety, and Hollie Mc Carthy of Emerald World of Learning was named the Rookie Centre Manager of the Year. 


Katie Tran Centre Manager of the Year (pictured) 


In the prestigious Centre Manager of the Year category Katie Tran of First Grammar Cabramatta West was recognised for her dedication and outstanding service to her local community, awarded for her centre’s outstanding performance in all quality areas including team and culture, children and families, educational practice and safety.  


“I just come to work every day, happy to be there because I love what I do,” she said graciously.  “I never expected to get an award for it, but it is so nice to be recognised.”  


Mr Carroll, on the other hand, said he is “in awe” of what Ms Tran has accomplished, saying the feedback, the safety track record, the advocacy from families all demonstrate the incredible effort she has made to create an engaged and loving community. 


“It makes me so proud to know we are providing our children, families and teams with such incredible environments to learn and work thanks to leaders like Katie,” he added. 


Kate Drew wins Quality category


In the Quality category, Kate Drew, Centre Manager of Pelican Childcare Lynbrook, was recognised for providing exceptionally high-quality education and care, with the judging panel particularly impressed by her demonstration of outstanding quality practices within her centre culture.  


“I think what it comes down to is being focused on children,” Ms Drew explained. “Our children run our program, and we are flexible in adjusting schedules and lesson plans to be tailored to what they need, or their interests at the time.”  


Pelican Childcare Lynbrook was rated as Exceeding in March 2021, and places special emphasis on cultural celebrations, sustainability and reconciliation. 


Mr Carroll commended Ms Drew for her “unrivalled passion, dedication and creativity,” describing her as “a quality champion across G8, always sharing useful documents and educational pieces on our internal social media channels.” 


Remaining humble, Ms Drew said she comes to work each day “wanting to be better for our children, families and my team.” 


“If I can help other educators and centre managers learn something new or be inspired to be innovative in their approaches, then that is just wonderful.”  


Kathleen Nash secures Sustainability win


In the Sustainability category Kathleen Nash, Centre Manager of First Grammar Seven Hills was lauded for her focus not only on big sustainability projects but also for her laser-like focus on the everyday actions which contribute to a more sustainable future. 


“While I love working on big sustainability projects like collecting bottle caps to be recycled in to making prosthetics, for me, sustainability is more about every day practices and a change in mind-set,” Ms Nash explained.


First Grammar Seven Hills has a detailed Sustainability Management Plan which sees the team, children and families contribute to meeting and exceeding targets, and executing specific practices such as recycling and upcycling.  


Ms Nash encourages her team to get inspired by hosting before-and-after competitions for upcycling practices, and by regularly sharing new innovative approaches through newsletters and educational resources.  


She has also implemented larger scale projects such as setting up a nappy collection point for families to donate nappies they no longer need to local charities.  


Given that the practices are so embedded into her life both inside and outside the service, Ms Nash said the recognition of her efforts came as a shock. 


To learn more about G8 Education, please see here

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