ECT Sue Forward celebrates 40 years of teaching
The Sector > Quality > In The Field > ECT Sue Forward celebrates 40 years of teaching

ECT Sue Forward celebrates 40 years of teaching

by Freya Lucas

March 22, 2024

Early childhood teacher (ECT) Sue Forward recently celebrated not only 40 years of teaching, but also 40 years of working with the same kindergarten.


Arriving at Orbost Preschool in 1984, she brought her incredible dedication to the profession and passion for the outdoors, contributing to many creative and positive kinder learning experiences over the years.


Her determination to teach young children started early. Despite being told she didn’t have the necessary prerequisites she put forward compelling arguments and convinced the former Institute of Early Childhood Development to give her a place, and since then, she’s never looked back.


Ms Forward has had her reputation as being a teacher who loved teaching and nature from her earliest days at the kindergarten, with a glorious mud patch being one of the first things she created. 


The natural environment is very close to her heart and influences her educational approach and philosophy. The Orbost township and its surrounding bushland inspire her, and she recently converted a former sandpit into a water play area, with a ground cover of specially selected stones and pebbles which feel wonderful underfoot.


Over the decades, she has seen the growth of the centre from 65 children, to topping 90 in some years. She has been an important part of the lives of children from more than one generation of the same family. 


Just as she has supported her community, so have they supported her, and in reflecting on her time in the service she says the strong bonds she has formed ‘run deep’. 


“Small communities can be really special, particularly when it comes to kinder,” she said. “Our community loves and cherishes its kinder. While we have four primary schools, we have only one kindergarten.”


To celebrate her amazing achievements the Orbost Preschool community recently gathered for an afternoon tea, where after a celebratory cake was cut, many stories were recounted. Visitors eagerly toured the kinder, keen to see the changes and transformations that had occurred over the years.


While Orbost and its beauty may have been part of the reason for her long tenure, Ms Forward said it’s the children who really have her heart, and see her travel a round trip of 120 km each day, to do the work she loves so much. 


“I never cease to be moved by the excitement of children when they learn something. It constantly amazes me how there’s always something new…Seeing them so full of wonder, it is really special.”


Orbost Preschool is part of The Y Ballarat.

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