Shining Star at Affinity Education: Erin Barnes

The team at Kids Academy Glenmore Park in New South Wales have a much-loved familiar face as their newly appointed Centre Manager - and Affinity has another career progression success story!

Meet Erin Barnes, one of Affinity Education’s newest Centre Managers. We sat down with Erin to find out how this dynamic lady got to where she is today. 

What was your first ECE role?
My first role was as a casual providing ISS support in the 2-3 years room.

When did you decide to make early childhood education your career?
In the beginning, I had no idea where the road would lead. The more I learned about this career, the more I fell in love with it.
 
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What goals did you set for yourself?
My professional goal was to attain my Diploma in Children’s Services.  My broad goals are to be open to change, always work hard and live my life by the quote ‘see a need, fill a need’.

What challenges did you face?
Insert laughter… Well, well, well. I’m guessing you want the short answer! It took me three training companies and a 14-month maternity leave gap to achieve my Certificate. I work full time and my family are a busy household of seven (eight including Doug our dog!).

Over the years I have faced a number of challenges both personally - including loss of family - and professionally, but you can’t let any of them get in the way of your goals. Goals keep you moving forward.

Who supported you in your journey?
My supportive partner Ryan, my family, my beautiful work family (all of them over the years) and my wonderful friend Affinity Area 10 Manager Olga Klaassen. Olga has always believed in me!

What do you love the most about your job?
Working in childcare enables to me to do and be all the things I love! Here are a few examples: Teaching, photography, marketing, travel, dancing, customer service, nursing, interior design, business management, art and crafts, fundraising, community projects, helping and supporting children & families, gardening, meeting new people, challenging myself everyday and more!

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What have the ‘steps’ in your career pathway been?
  • Casual ISS support worker (no qualification)
  • Full-time Assisting Educator for 2-3 year-olds for several years, during which I began my Embedded Diploma with ACCO.
  • Assistant Room Leader for 3-5 year olds for several years, during which I changed training company to Careers Australia then Recognition First. 
  • Administration/2IC for 5 months before going on maternity leave for 14 months.
  • Affinity welcomed me back from maternity leave in June 2018, and I briefly helped our Area 15 Manager Tori Robinson as a floater in Area 10.
  • A position at Kids Academy Regentville came up as Assistant Centre Manager when Olga became Area Manager, and I finished my Diploma!!!
  • In October 2019 I began a new journey with Affinity Education when I was promoted to Centre Manager at Glenmore Park. This was such a proud moment for me. (Almost as proud as when our team won the 'Completely Connected Communities' award at the 2019 Affinity Centre Manager Conference!)
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Tell us about your centre – what do you love the most about it?
The staff children and families are all lovely and so welcoming. The classroom environments are filled with so much love and passion which create that warm homely atmosphere. I love that there is so much talent among our very own staff members, I am looking forward to see how the future unfolds.

How many children are in your care?
We are an 80 place long day care centre. We currently have 131 active children who walk in and out the door every week.

What do you think the children enjoy most about their days at your centre?
I believe the children enjoy the opportunity and freedom to be themselves. I have noticed group games, messy play, art and craft and music and movement 

What benefits do you see for your centre in being associated with Affinity Education Group?
There are so many benefits from working for Affinity Education Group. I feel I am part of a big team. It gives me great confidence to know that any support I need as an employee or manager, it’s only a phone call or email away.  Affinity provides the opportunity to network and build relationships and share ideas with others. There are fantastic job opportunities and it is wonderful to be involved in extra things like expos, induction days, conferences, and pilot programs.

What are your future goals in early childhood education?
My goals are always evolving. I like to leave them open ended and see what opportunities present themselves. My goal is to always work hard, play hard and if I see a need to fill the need!

Tell us your favourite moment or a funny story from your career?
There are many of these but one of the most recent was convincing Affinity COO Shane Dann & NSW State Manager Wayne Meredith to have a turn on our new playground slide. Both Shane & Wayne thought I was taking a photo but I was actually taking a slow motion video. Still makes me laugh every time I think about it!

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Interested in an Early Learning career like Erin's? We're hiring for 2020 right now. Take a look at our current vacancies and get in touch with our friendly HR team!