After 40 years, Darlene has said farewell to Cockatoo Kindergarten
The Sector > Jobs News > After 40 years, Darlene has said farewell to Cockatoo Kindergarten

After 40 years, Darlene has said farewell to Cockatoo Kindergarten

by Freya Lucas

September 20, 2023

For veteran educator Darlene Elder, saying goodbye to the children and families at Cockatoo Kindergarten after 40 years is bittersweet. 


“I’m tired to be honest, it’s a really bittersweet feeling,” she shared with local news source Star Mail. 


In her time with the Kindergarten, some significant changes have occurred and it has become a core fixture in the local community. 


It’s this strong sense of community which has been the most rewarding aspect of her career. 


“I’ve seen and taught generations of children through Cockatoo Kindergarten, with some students that I taught years ago now bringing their own children in,” she said.


“I never expected to be someone who stayed in the same place and really became part of the community.


“I’ve seen generations come through Cockatoo, because I live here as well, so I’ve seen the good and the bad of the Hills,” she added.


When she began her education career, early childhood was the last thing on her mind. Originally Ms Elder wanted to work in secondary education. It was during one of her final placements in Year 12 when she thought she better try out the opposite end of the spectrum, and spend some time with younger children, before making a decision about where she wanted to be. 


“I fell in love with it, and went back and told my teachers that I wanted to go into early childhood,” she said.


“They were horrified when I told them, but they didn’t know that early childhood is the most important education, to get the foundations right for further education in school.” 


For those left behind, while being happy for Ms Elder and wishing her a restful retirement, her departure is a sad one too, wishing that she could stay ‘just a little longer’ and reach more children and families. 


Ms Elder was farewelled with a community afternoon tea and farewell party on Friday 15 September, which saw many locals come and enjoy the afternoon together.


Lauren Purdie, an existing early childhood teacher at the service, will be taking over Ms Elder’s role, and acknowledges that she has “big shoes to fill,” clear about the impact that Ms Elder has had on the community.


“She was more than just a teacher to many of them, she was someone to talk to and part of the family,” she said.


In retirement Ms Elder is looking forward to new adventures with her husband. The pair purchased a caravan prior to COVID-19 shutting down the country, and are looking forward to travelling around Australia. 


Access the original coverage of this story here

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