Affinity Shining Star profile: Nicole Kumpis, Centre Manager at The Learning Tree Barton, ACT

I’ve realised how much I love what I do and how I could never imagine working in another industry.”

Meet Nicole Kumpis, Centre Manager at The Learning Tree Barton. Overseeing a 65-place centre is no small feat but with over 20 years experience in early childhood education, Nicole fills every day with fun and learning both for herself and her team of educators. 


Nicole has always had a passion for childcare, from ‘back in the day’ when she would babysit, to when she started her career in early childhood education in 1998. Since then she’s gone from an assistant educator to senior educator, and is now combining her Centre Manager role with studying a Bachelor of Early Childhood Education.

Working closely with her team including Assistant Centre Manager Hayley Robinson, Nicole says she is committed to seeing every child supported on their ‘lifelong learning journey’. Her team are dedicated to using the Lifelong Learning approach, so each child can reach their full potential.

“The Lifelong Learning approach is a natural extension of my own philosophy as an educator, because it recognises the philosophies of educational leaders including Montessori, Maslow and even Dr Spock! Lifelong Learning is about inspiring children to pursue and embrace learning, through building their confidence and self-image, promoting positive dispositions to learning and enabling them to develop trust in themselves, in others and in their environment," Nicole says.

"I love seeing children progress in their development and be able to be a part of their journey,” she says.

With a personal goal of “always striving for excellence”, Nicole actively collaborates with other early childhood education industry leaders to bring the best ideas and inspiration to her centre and team.

“No matter how long I have been in the industry, I always learn something new from other people,” she says.

What benefits do you see for your centre being a part of Affinity Education Group?

I have worked for many other big childcare companies and I can honestly say hands down Affinity Education Group has been the best I have ever worked for. Affinity and all the people involved in the company are passionate about changing our industry. The support we receive from our CEO all the way down the line is so inspiring, I tell everyone I meet so proudly how much I love working for Affinity and I will hopefully for a very long time to come. I love that there are obvious career pathways for me to follow - one of my goals is to become an Area Manager in the future for Affinity. 

What do you believe are the most important current topics in early childhood education?

Child protection, education and care. I believe that we should be supporting the families and becoming ‘their village’.

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Tell us your favourite moment or a funny story from your career?

My most favourite moment to date is here at The Learning Tree Barton and our Mother’s Day High Tea. When I first joined Barton I held a 'get together' for the parents and we had one parent attend. I knew I had a lot of work to do to gain the families trust and show them that I was here to turn this centre into the place to be. A year later and we had 35 parents and families show up, they were all fully engaged and talking. It felt so amazing seeing our little community come together. I was so proud. It made me realise how much I love what I do and how I could never imagine working in another industry.

The Learning Tree Barton is one of 167 Lifelong Learning Centres owned and operated by Affinity Education Group. Visit their website or find a Lifelong Learning Centre near you and ask about a free 'stay and play' date for you and your child.