Whether it be working in kindy, outside school hours care, family day care, long day care or an early years place, early childhood teachers and educators inspire, teach and nurture our youngest, developing a life-long love of learning in them.
Queensland is a vast state with a wealth of opportunities and support for early childhood educators in the state’s rural and remote areas.
Mount Isa’s Andrea Bowcock never imagined herself working in early childhood.
Growing up in the mining town 900km from the east coast, the qualified vet nurse changed careers to the mines before she found herself at Warekila – Happy Valley Kindergarten.
'I never saw myself working with children. I planned on returning to admin when my 2 girls started school but in 2013, I started work at the local kindy and haven’t looked back,' Andrea said.
This wasn’t, however, the first time Andrea had visited Happy Valley, having attended all those years ago with her twin sister. Her 2 daughters also began their early learning journey at the service.
Working and studying to complete her diploma, Andrea then went on to complete her Bachelor of Early Childhood and since 2018, she has taken on the position of teacher/director at Happy Valley.
'I feel strongly about our little kindy and as much as possible, engage with the community to enrich the lives of the little ones we educate and care for,' Andrea said.
'As educators, we have the opportunity to ensure children develop a love of learning and support them to develop skills for success.
My team loves to create learning spaces that inspire creation, wonder and challenge.'
While Andrea loves passing on her knowledge, the children in her care are not the only ones learning.
'I enjoy learning about the history of the Kalkadoon People through Elder Aunty Joan,' Andrea said.
'I also learn everyday with the children, each one of them teaching me something new along the way.'
Approximately 120km east of Mount Isa lies the small town of Cloncurry. A population of around 3,000, the rural town is known as the friendly heart of the great North West.
For early childhood educator and proud Mitakoodi woman Sharlene Hill, the humble town is where she calls home.
'I grew up in Cloncurry and completed all of my schooling here. When I was 4-years-old, I actually went to the kindergarten where I now work,' Sharlene said.
As 1 of 4 sisters, Sharlene’s family, like many in town, grew up with a love of touch football and rugby league and camping with friends and family.
Sharlene has been working in childcare since she was in high school in 2014, starting off as a school-based trainee.
Now Lead Educator at C&K Cloncurry Kindergarten, she completed her diploma in early childhood while working at the service.
'I’ve always wanted to be an educator, growing up I used to pretend to be a teacher at home with my sisters and cousins as a game on the weekends,' she said.
'I love how different each day is, I love hearing the stories the kids come in and say it’s so much fun. I love being the teacher who makes the mess with the kids and being crafty.'
Sharlene said her connections with the community continue to strengthen through her work as an early childhood educator.
'I love that I have connected with so many families in town and love seeing the Cloncurry kindy grow,' she said.
Both Andrea and Sharlene encouraged anyone contemplating moving to a rural town to work in early childhood to embrace the opportunity.
'The connections in smaller towns are fantastic,' Sharlene said.
'Working in early childhood out here is an awesome experience.
You’re really busy throughout the year, but when the year comes to an end and you reflect back, you can see how much you and your team have made an impact on each child who has attended your service and you feel great.'
'I would encourage anyone interested in working in the early childhood sector to consider moving to a remote town,' she said.
'Work is only 10 minutes away and a good teacher can make a big difference to the lives of so many children out here.'
If you know someone interested in early childhood as a career path, be sure to share the latest information on early childhood careers. Ask your service how the Queensland Government’s new
kindy funding service location subsidy provides financial rewards for going remote.
Words of wisdom – working in rural communities
'I would suggest that anyone new to remote teaching reach out to locals and build connections, get to know your community, families to ensure they feel comfortable bringing their little ones to kindy each day and take your children out on country, as often as you can!' – Andrea
'Try to communicate with all families, out here they really look for educators who communicate and connect with them.' – Sharlene
Early childhood careers
Training and capability building
Higher level skills, including free apprenticeships for under 25s
Queensland kindergarten funding, including location subsidies for teachers