Goodstart Educational Leaders of the Year share their stories
The Sector > Provider > General News > Goodstart Educational Leaders of the Year share their stories

Goodstart Educational Leaders of the Year share their stories

by Freya Lucas

December 13, 2023

Sandra D’Rozario of Goodstart Early Learning Canning Vale – Batman Road, and Demee Mumford of Goodstart Early Learning Doncaster East were joint winners of the Educational Leader of the Year award in the recently announced national Goodies Awards.


The Goodies Awards celebrate outstanding contributions to early childhood education within the Goodstart Early Learning network. In 2023, to recognise Goodstart’s ‘Year of the Educational Leader’ focus, a new award category Educational Leader of the Year was added to the awards program. 


In the piece below, extracted from a longer form piece found here, Ms Mumford and Ms D’Rozario share their stories. 


Transformative Leadership Sandra D’Rozario


Ms D’Rozario has been the Assistant Director and Educational Leader at Goodstart Canning Vale Batman Road since 2017. 


Prior to taking on an active leadership role in the service, she was working with the Canning Vale team in a teaching role, and at all times has been known as “an exceptional mentor and beacon for change”. 


When she started in her leadership role, she recognised that her centre needed a shift in focus, and that educators needed to be more actively engaged with the children. This aligned with her personal philosophy, too, and so she embarked on a journey of positive change.


Building relationships with the team was one of her key focus areas. Ms D’Rozario held regular room meetings for reflection and provided strategic, constructive feedback. This helped her ensure practice aligned with the centre philosophy. 

Her team worked on building relationships with children, families and each other. It set a strong foundation for effective teaching and learning at Canning Vale Batman Road.


The practice uplift journey helped ensure high quality early learning and care. Under her leadership, the centre achieved an ‘Exceeding’ rating in all seven Quality Areas when assessed and rated something which is especially significant as the team had to navigate a severe staff shortage through the process. As well as being rated as Exceeding the National Quality Standard, the service won the state KindiCare Excellence Award with a rating of 9.9.


Commenting on the experience she noted that “an exceptional leader turns values into action and obstacles into stepping stones”.


“Becoming a great leader requires work; it’s not overnight. We must hold onto the goal of high quality learning and care for every single child,” she added. “I’m driven by excellence, equity and innovation. I aim to create a community of learners who share passion and vision. To foster a culture of trust and collaboration, I listen and guide as we build consensus. This helps everyone feel valued, respected and supported.”


When her team said they felt burnt out, Ms D’Rozario supported them by proposing strategic changes to documentation schedules so they would have less paperwork. 


The judging panel in the awards noted her capacity to lead change through role modelling, saying “her passion and dedication empowers educators to give it their best”.


Elevated Educational Environments Demee Mumford 


Ms Mumford shone during her first year as an Educational Leader, a role she took on in February 2023. As a senior educator passionate about capturing children’s voices, the impact of her leadership was evident in just a few short months, with an uplift of environments and practice. 


Not long after her appointment the service introduced child-led quality improvement plans in every room, just one of the many ways by which Ms Mumford seeks to understand and incorporate children’s perspectives. 


Under her leadership the centre has made key changes to programming, including aligning the program with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.


She supports fellow educators in being thoughtful and intentional. Her collaborative approach helps her form lasting relationships with her team and supports their ongoing development. 

 Ms Mumford hosted an open night at the service in June 2023, presenting the service’s journey, which saw hundreds of educators tune in via a video stream. 


To further support she created an educational “environments in action” video which has been used for training and development purposes across the Goodstart network.


When reflecting on her win, Ms Mumford said part of her success was her willingness to learn from others, recommending that other educational leaders reach out to those in their broader community to network, and to welcome their enquiries and visits in return. 


“Educational Leaders inspire and encourage others to see their full potential,” she said. “I believe a strengths-based approach delivers the best outcome.”


As part of their award win, the pair get an international professional development opportunity and will join a study tour hosted by Chief Children’s Officer Sue Robb.  


Learn more about Goodstart Early Learning here

Download The Sector's new App!

ECEC news, jobs, events and more anytime, anywhere.

Download App on Apple App Store Button Download App on Google Play Store Button