More than 200 educators and Centre Managers completely connected with Affinity’s leadership team to celebrate International Women’s Day 2023 and celebrate individuals in our community who embrace equity.
Three early childhood teachers, an educational leader from the Northern Territory, Victorian-based Education advisor and NSW-based Quality advisor were recognised by Affinity for realising potential in children through their personal commitment to equity.
In a national zoom call Chief People Officer Linda Carroll encouraged the community to reflect on how equity created opportunities for people to realise their potential.
“It’s really important to work within an organisation that aligns with your personal values, and be on a journey that will allow you to achieve what is meaningful to you,” Linda said.
“At Affinity we strongly promote mentors, and it’s important for anyone seeking more to gain a mentor, someone who can help you critically reflect on your performance every day. Go for it – the sky’s the limit.”
Linda’s role as Affinity Education’s Chief People Officer has been integral in the company’s almost-10 year history and seen her establish key initiatives to create more equitable opportunities for women in the early education and care sector. These have included a sector-first paid on the job training program through the Affinity Learning Academy and Affinity’s fully funded Bachelor Scholarship program, initiatives which have resulted in hundreds of women completing fully paid Certificate, Diploma and Bachelor qualifications while employed by Affinity Education Group.
Affinity’s Chief Financial Officer Cathy Montesin, responsible for the financial performance of the company since her appointment in 2019, spoke about the importance of confidence to take on the opportunities that are presented. “We all have opportunities – and people who provide those opportunities are really looking for people to stand up and go above and beyond, and find a way,” she said.
Newly appointed QLD State Manager Caz Laramy who leads a team of nine Area Managers overseeing more than 1500 centre-based employees, echoed these sentiments with her encouragement to stay true to your values, and know you have a voice. “If you hear self-doubt, shut it down, and have trust and confidence that you’ve got this,” said Caz.
Victorian State Manager Kellie Bray thanked Affinity Education for recognising the potential in her during her career to date, which has seen her progress from Centre Manager to Area Manager and then State Manager overseeing more than 35 early education and care centres, and leading a team of seven area managers responsible close to some 1000 employees.
Highlighting the IWD theme ‘Embrace Equity’, Affinity Education Group Head of Quality Jodie McClelland reflected on the fourth guiding principal of the National Quality Framework.
“Equity, inclusion and diversity underpin the NQS, which emphasises children’s capacity and right to succeed regardless of their diverse circumstances, cultural background or abilities,” Jodie said.
“At Affinity, our educators and teachers are held to a high expectation for learning and development of all children in meaningful ways.”
Jodie has enjoyed a career of more than 20 years in the early education sector, progressing from a trainee to educator, management roles and now leads a national team of Quality Advisors for Affinity Education Group.
Head of Compliance Fiona Young has enjoyed a similarly long career in the sector, progressing from centre-based roles through to shaping policies and is now thriving in her current national role overseeing safety, policies, procedures and compliance for more than 200 early education and childcare centres operated by Affinity.
“Equality and equity are quite different, so we need to meet children where they are, and not treat them all the same,” Fiona said.
Speaking to the entire community, Head of Pedagogy and Practice Dr Lesley Jones said she was continually inspired by how far our teams will go, especially for children who are really doing it tough. “Equity is hardwired into our DNA as educators, and when you see children move from being socially isolated to being able to make friends, to be able to engage in educational programs, there is nothing better,” Lesley said.
Affinity’s New South Wales and ACT State Manager Tori Robinson – who has progressed from an Early Childhood Teacher working in a centre management role when Affinity acquired her service in 2008 through to her current leadership position responsible for 12 Area Managers and 2 Operations Managers overseeing almost 2000 employees - never forgets her centre-based years.
Reflecting on the theme of Embrace Equity, Tori highlighted two principals which influence her commitment to equitable opportunities for children. “No two children will learn on the same day, in the same way – and every child deserves an equal opportunity to learn,” Tori said.
“These two quotes are never far from my thoughts when I visit our services and inspire me to set high standards for the quality of early education our teams offer,” she said.
Linking the ‘Embrace Equity’ theme to the urgent need for educators and teachers committed to encouraging women to progress in STEM careers, Affinity Education Group recognised four individuals who have utilised the company’s Lifelong Learning Curriculum ‘Big Thinkers STEM’ program which is offered in Kindergartens and Preschools across Australia, and a further two members of our national community who reflect a high commitment to equity through their roles in education and quality.
Dayana Caetano, Lead Educator, Milestones Early Learning Wagaman, NT
Meiying Jiang, Early Childhood Teacher, Papilio Early Learning South Strathfield, NSW
Caitlyn Yassi, Early Childhood Teacher, Milestones Early Learning Cranbourne East, VIC
Shalini Chandaran, Education Advisor, VIC
Melanie Nour, Quality Manager, NSW