Making the KU Difference Award 2022 winners announced
The Sector > Provider > General News > Making the KU Difference Award 2022 winners announced

Making the KU Difference Award 2022 winners announced

by Freya Lucas

September 15, 2022

The winners of the 2022 Making the KU Difference Awards were announced recently at the KU Annual Conference, with each award recipient being recognised for their outstanding contributions to KU, children, families and communities over the past year.


In the Making the KU Difference for Children category, four winners were named:



Ms Lawrence was noted for, among other things, her capacity to use music and song writing skills to highlight messages of inclusion, the magic of learning and childhood, and for being able to “be present and think creatively on her feet”.


Ms James Allan was recognised for being passionate, supportive, patient and encouraging in her teaching, creating experiences that support children to think more deeply about their health and safety, while Ms Gardner drew attention for going above and beyond to listen, document and respond to the needs of the children in her care. 


Ms Wells is said to “exude genuine passion in her role of educating children,” and is described as being “selfless, generous and kind”.


KU Bulli Preschool, under the leadership of Michelle Lashbrook, were the winners of the Making the KU Difference for Families category, noted for their efforts in supporting children and families when the service had to relocate temporarily to KU Figtree, collaborating to create beautiful play spaces and a daily program that is responsive to every child’s needs, based on strong principles of attachment and a value of positive, nurturing relationships with children and their families.


In the Making the KU Difference for Communities category the KU Ashmont Preschool and Family Centre team, under the leadership of Eileen Bach, were recognised for establishing a genuine presence within the local community. 


Because they have excelled in developing respectful and trusting relationships with the families and the community of Ashmont, they now have a high percentage of First Nations enrolments at the preschool, meaning more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families are able to access early education.


Making the KU Difference for Staff in 2022 were the following winners:



Ms Preston was described in her nomination as “an exceptional Director who truly values the contributions of her team,” one who “works with their strengths to drive quality improvement and change”. 


Ms Martin was recognised for her positive energy, dedication and professionalism while contributing as part of the KU Mayfield team, attending staff meetings in her own time as well as participating in working bees and professional learning opportunities outside work hours. 


Under the leadership of Ms Irving, KU’s Permanent Relief team is an experienced, flexible and professional group of teachers, educators, cooks and administration assistants. The team has willingly travelled, sometimes at short notice, to services that are short staffed due to COVID-19 and have worked tirelessly to support centre staff throughout the COVID-19 years, and as the provider continues to experience staff shortages. 


Ms Wilson, meanwhile, “calmly and graciously supported the NSW/ACT Inclusion Hub Managers and Inclusion Professionals as they navigated two years of change, adjustment to service delivery, policy and procedures.” 


Marianna Georgiadis, Director of KU Liverpool Preschool, joined fellow Director Yuki Moyle of KU Sunbeam Preschool in the Making the KU Difference to Quality category. 


Ms Georgiadis has been the Director of KU Liverpool Preschool since 2015 and was also the Director for KU Marcia Burgess Autism Specific Early Learning and Care Centre last year. She has made a significant impact on both programs and has been pivotal to the success of the merger of the two services into the new structure at KU Liverpool Preschool. The new program offers an exciting educational program with the inclusion of children with high support needs, with its leader “personifying commitment to best practice and high quality inclusive early childhood education”.


Ms Moyle provides an exemplary educational program where the service philosophy and values are evident and embedded in the practices and curriculum of the service environment. She manages a well-resourced art studio, rich with a variety of mediums and resources, offering a space for sensitive listening and deep explorations to support quality in children’s learning.


KU Rushcutters Bay Preschool under the leadership of Helen Meimaroglou was named as winner of the Making the KU Difference through Sustainability category, with the whole team showing diligent practice of environmental awareness and sustainability within their urban environment. ”The KU Rushcutters Bay team is embedding behaviours that will create habits for a lifetime and lasting impact as the children grow up,” judges note.


Educator Bei Bei Liu and Child Care Educator Maree Hoy from  KU Bradfield Park, along with KU Central Office’s Learning and Development Practice Facilitator Laure Hislop and Marketing Project Lead Cassandra Mezups were noted for Making the KU Difference through Innovation.


This group collaborated on a project that has combined traditional and digital technologies to support the children of KU Bradfield Park, as they retold the story of KU’s rich 125-year history in a video animation titled, “Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow”. With no fixed idea of an outcome, the educators aimed to amplify the children’s thinking to help them create a world of fantasy and possibility. The innovative result morphs the analogue world of traditional drawings and the spoken word with digital storytelling using animation.


Four winners were noted for Making the KU Difference by Representing KU:


  • KU Cheltenham Memorial Preschool team under the leadership of Michelle Healey
  • Education Quality Manager team, KU Central Office
  • Ashleigh Pengelly, Aboriginal Cultural Facilitator, KU Central Office
  • Business Operations team under the leadership of Lyndel Seymour, KU Central Office.


The KU Cheltenham Memorial Preschool team was awarded for representing KU through compassion, commitment to early childhood outcomes and presence in the community. Ms Healy led the KU Cheltenham team in hosting the NSW Premier’s media announcement regarding the Early Childhood Education reforms earlier this year along with photo shoots for the Department of Education and LifeEd


The Education Quality team has provided consistent support for services, educators, children and families as they have navigated the changing and challenging landscape of COVID-19, effectively representing KU through the “Staying connected with KU” program, as well as the evolution of directors networking meetings that each of the EQMs facilitate. In addition, the EQMs have gone above and beyond to represent KU by working directly with children and the service teams to ensure services are able to operate during staff absences during COVID-19. Shifts covered by EQMs increased from 19 shifts in July to October 2020 to more recently 44 shifts between January and May this year.


Since Ms Pengelly’s appointment as a KU community liaison facilitator, she has embedded herself in the Wagga Wagga community. She is actively engaged in representing KU by attending events and raising community awareness of KU’s Statement of Commitment to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and promoting Aboriginal community agencies and peoples. She advocates for and supports Aboriginal self-determination among Elders and community families in early childhood. 


The Business Operations team are said to display extreme professionalism when they represent KU both internally and externally. Under Ms Seymour’s leadership, the team shoulders enormous responsibility in looking after all KU services in providing systems support, policy advice, funding analysis and guidance through our complex and ever-changing funding and operational environment. The team is widely recognised for knowledge in their field, timely responses to requests, along with friendliness and patience in often stressful times. In the most recent migration to Storypark Manage, the team effectively worked with all stakeholders and assisted to ensure services and families were helped throughout this process to achieve a smooth transition.


In the Making the KU Difference in Commitment to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples category:


  • KU Sutherland Preschool team under the leadership of Collette Heslehurst
  • Rachel Jones, NSW South West Inclusion Hub Manager, NSW/ACT Inclusion Agency.


KU Sutherland staff have worked respectfully and consistently to deliver the Dharawal Language Program which provides children and educators solid foundations for understanding, respecting and learning the traditional local language. Ms Heslehurst regularly seeks guidance and permissions from Aboriginal Language Educators and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Programs team to ensure the practices and educational program of the service accurately reflect and reinforce the Dharawal Language Program as an ongoing and regular learning experience for all.


Ms Jones is an active advocate for reconciliation in her community, investing time in maintaining relationships with local Elders and making regular contact resulting in genuine connection. She prioritises her attendance at the Yarning for Inclusion Group which, after being set and facilitated by her team, is now led by local services. Ms Jones leads by example and encourages her team to attend local events. When orienting new Inclusion Professionals, she respectfully shares her knowledge of local Wiradjuri culture, language and talks about places of significance to visit.


Donna Archibald, Hub Manager Brisbane North and Specialist Equipment Library Manager, Inclusion Support Queensland and Educator James Wood, from KU Dem School Kids Care were each lauded in the Making the KU Difference for Inclusion category, with Ms Archibald inspiring professionals to consider how specialist equipment may support children’s inclusion, and how educators may respond to and meet children’s needs differently. 


Mr Wood has demonstrated “a total commitment” to supporting the inclusion of children with additional needs in the after-school care program at KU Dem School, where he is well liked by all the children and is known to be an outstanding educator, as well as for his smile, positivity and can-do attitude.


Finally, in the prestigious KU Marcia Burgess Award the KU Osborne Park Preschool team under the leadership of Lisa Milham were recognised for their unmistakable commitment to children and families in the areas of child development, additional needs and wellbeing. 


Last year, a child at KU Osborne Park was identified as having gender dysphoria. The whole team supported the child’s gender identity as they transitioned and worked with the child, their parents and Allied Health professionals to create a safe and inclusive space. KU Osborne Park is inclusive of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the team is striving to build on awareness of their privileges and bias. 


For more information about the Making the KU Difference awards, please see here

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