Having begun her early learning career as an assistant educator at MercyCare Bennett Springs Early Learning Centre, Courtney has poured her heart and soul into helping children ranging from toddlers to pre-schoolers learn and grow.
“The most rewarding part of being an educator is watching them grow from little children to little people,” she said.
“And in doing that, it’s helped me stay true to myself, because when you want little people to grow up and be the best person they can be, you need to be the best person you can be.”
Courtney’s passion for the job has made such an impression on her colleagues that she has been encouraged to further her career potential at MercyCare.
Thanks to support and encouragement from her colleagues, Courtney enrolled and completed a Diploma in Early Childhood Education and Care.
“I studied my diploma and became a room leader for the toddler’s room, and I loved it,” she said.
“I poured my heart and soul into it and loved coming into work every day.
What followed was a string of career growth opportunities for Courtney, which included being promoted to the role of assistant manager and, later, acting centre manager.
“Whenever I’ve applied for a higher role, it was never really off my own back, I was encouraged to by others,” she said.
“I didn’t see my own potential but MercyCare and the staff around me encouraged me to apply and gave me the support I needed.”
MercyCare Executive Director of Early Learning Services Rosina Smith has also been impressed with Courtney’s passion for the job that she approached her about a newly created role as Mission and Quality Lead, working within the Early Learning Services team at head office.
Always up for a challenge, Courtney was eager to learn more about the new role.
“The role involves overseeing programs like protective behaviours and safeguarding children, ensuring that all of our ethos and values are upheld at all of our centres, making sure our Reconciliation Action Plan is supported, and along with that, collaborating with others across the organisation,” Courtney said.
“For me, I love collaborating. So being able to connect, reach out, network and collaborate with more directorates and more people really appealed to me.
“Not only that, it was also knowing that I have the potential in the curriculums we roll out (at the centres) to influence more children and help support educators so that they have the skills to support our children.
“So instead of just working with the 130 children that are at (Bennett Springs) now I can work with, indirectly, the children that are across all of our centres. Having the ability to have that impact really appealed to me.
Despite still being new to the role, Courtney said she has already envisioned how she can make a difference by implementing small steps towards change across MercyCare’s 14 Early Learning Centres.
“Something else I’ve been working on that will be ongoing, which is a real passion of mine, is supporting the mental wellbeing and health of our staff and children and making sure they have all the tools and can access the right resources,” she said.
“Being able to connect with, support and collaborate with so many more people is right up my alley. I also feel like my life has more purpose.”
Before working in early learning, Courtney did a two-and-a-half-year stint in Aged Care which is where she developed a passion for making a difference in peoples’ lives.
“I loved the work I was doing, I loved helping people and influencing people’s lives and helping them live out their values and enriching their lives. I loved and treasured that part of the job,” she said.
“So then I thought, where else can I make a difference? That’s when I thought about working with children, because you are literally building their foundation in those early years. So I decided to study early learning and here I am.”
What Courtney has loved most about working at MercyCare is feeling like she is part of a family.
“We’re all a family — our managers, our educators, we all support each other,” she said.
“We’re about lifting people up, whether it’s our families or in our communities.”