St Nicholas staff conference supports ECEC services to reconnect
The Sector > Provider > General News > St Nicholas staff conference supports ECEC services to reconnect

St Nicholas staff conference supports ECEC services to reconnect

by Freya Lucas

December 20, 2023

Angie Freeman, Pedagogy and Practice Manager at early childhood education and care (ECEC) provider St Nicholas was just one of many amazing speakers at the recent 2023 St Nicholas staff conference, which focused on the theme ‘reconnect.’


Speakers included talent from within the St Nicholas network as well as two keynotes, all of whom shared stories and sessions that not only inspired but also deeply resonated with St Nicholas’ mission and values.


Ms Freeman’s session focused on ‘Reconnecting with the Joy of Education’ and served as a powerful reminder of what serves as the heart of early childhood education and care – joy.


Her statement that “the world is sucking the joy out of us every day, but in ECEC, children are finding joy every day,” captured the very spirit of the profession and reinforced the importance of fostering a joyful learning environment for children, as well as fellow team members.


Aside from Ms Freeman, attendees heard from Mel Histon, founder of the charity Got Ya Back Sista, who shared her journey from battling breast cancer to becoming an advocate against sex trafficking in Nepal, which highlighted the transformative power of education. 


Her words, “If you are okay, they will be okay,” emphasised the vital role parents and carers play in the emotional wellbeing of children. Her passion for education as a catalyst for change left an indelible mark, reminding attendees of the impact St Nicholas’ team members have on young lives.


A panel discussion, featuring some of St Nicholas’ senior leaders, provided valuable insights into the future of early childhood education. Jess’s (Trainer and Assessor, St Nicholas Pathways) aspiration for early childhood to be seen as important as primary education and Josh’s (Area Service Manager, St Nicholas) call for recognition of out-of-school-hours (OOSH) care as a serious career path echoed the sentiments of the entire room. 


Following the panel discussion, Erica Wilkinson (Executive Manager – Professional Learning, St Nicholas) and Carolyn McGuiness (Leader Trainer and Assessor, St Nicholas Pathways) conducted a session on emotional intelligence, adding a profound layer to the conference experience. Their interactive presentation invited participants to explore their emotional intelligence styles through practical and play-based experiences grounded in early childhood theory. The hands-on session equipped attendees with valuable tools and insights to support the emotional development of the children in their care. The integration of emotional intelligence into the conference’s themes of reconnection underscored the significance of understanding our emotions to better nurture the emotional wellbeing of children.


Jason Blinman, Founder and CEO and The Maven Effect, concluded by sharing a session on having challenging conversations. 


His emphasis on compassionate communication and the importance of ‘Why?’ resonated deeply. It reinforced St Nicholas’ commitment to nurturing respectful and empathetic relationships within its community, as well as understanding the purpose behind what those at St Nicholas do each day, which is, ‘believe in supporting communities to flourish.’


During his closing remarks, David Healy (Executive Director, St Nicholas) recognised the resilience and strength of the provider’s team members over the last few years. His hope following the conference was for St Nicholas’ team members to move forward with a renewed sense of purpose. 


Learn more about the work of St Nicholas here

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