Kathy Toirkens celebrates 40 years of connection at Braidwood
The Sector > Provider > General News > Kathy Toirkens celebrates 40 years of community and connection at Braidwood

Kathy Toirkens celebrates 40 years of community and connection at Braidwood

by Freya Lucas

November 15, 2023

In an early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector which is increasingly struggling with attracting and retaining high-quality staff, stories like Kathy Toirkens’ are refreshing. 


Ms Toirkens is closely connected with the children, families and community of Braidwood a town in the Southern Tablelands of New South Wales, Australia, in Queanbeyan–Palerang Regional Council.


For the past 40 years, she has worked at Braidwood Preschool, most recently as its Director. Her journey with the service began in October 1983, as an early childhood teacher. In that time, she’s taught many of the now parents of the service, and has even seen some of her charges from her teaching days get married and start families of their own. 


“When we celebrated the 40th anniversary it was wonderful to hear from so many former students,” she shared with local news source About Regional. 


Ms Toirkens vividly remembers the day she travelled with her parents from their home at Mudgee for the job interview at Braidwood, having found the job role in the Saturday edition of the Sydney Morning Herald. 


“I do have clear memories of coming to Braidwood for the interview and staying overnight here. It was for my first teaching job. I remember coming out of the interview thinking it went well, everyone was so lovely,” she said.


When she began in her role at Braidwood, the community was a small rural town, which has since become “a thriving, artistic, innovative town”.


“Back then, it was a more rural kind of place,” she told the paper. “The first year I started I think we had groups of about eight children in the class, but that grew. The next year we had about 20 but we didn’t get back up there very often.”


She recently stood down as the Director, and is now working part time. Part of her long legacy with the preschool includes taking photos, and recording many of the key moments of the preschool and its children, along with special events at the service. 


To mark her 40-year association with the service, the community paid tribute to Ms Toirkens on social media, saying she has “provided so many children with the absolute best foundation and start in life they could ever hope for,” and that they would be “forever grateful and in awe of your tireless patience, kindness, gentleness and grace with which you deal with all these little ones.”


To read the original coverage of this story, please see here. 

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