Passionate pair pass baton to next generation


​It’s the end of an era for Mackay’s early childhood educators Jo Board and Nic McCartney.

After devoting 60 years of combined service in the early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector, the sisters will be retiring at the end of the year.

Before they hang up their shoes, Jo and Nic shared with us what they have loved about their profession and what drew them to the early childhood space.

Born in England, Jo and Nic emigrated to Australia with their family in the 70s and have called Mackay home for more than 50 years.

While their lives have taken different pathways along the way, for the past 14 years, Jo and Nic have found themselves sharing their love of teaching under the one roof as educators and directors at North Mackay’s Pioneer Community Kindergarten.

As the youngest sibling, Nic said she was inspired by her family to take up teaching.

'Teaching is in the blood of my family. Mum was a physical education teacher, my older sister an English teacher and Jo became an early childhood educator,' Nic said.

'I watched with interest at Jo’s journey and decided this was the path I wanted to take.'

Both Nic and Jo have enjoyed working side by side at Pioneer Kindergarten.

'We were always close growing up, so it wasn’t hard to work together,' Jo said.

Jo’s teaching journey began with her passion to support young Queenslanders.

'My love of teaching came naturally,' Jo said.

'Coming from a family of teachers helped me see firsthand the balance with work and family life as well as the joy the job can bring.'

Nic said her fondest memories of working in the sector have been the relationships formed and making a real difference to children’s lives.

'Seeing the massive progression children make from the beginning of the year until the end, that’s what I have loved most about my job,' she said.

Jo agreed.

'Early childhood education is such an important time in a child’s learning because it builds strong foundations as well as instilling in the child a love of learning which carries on throughout their schooling,' she said.

'I enjoy the bond that is formed with families, knowing they are entrusting their children with you, for some the first time they have been away from their parents or carers.'

Jo and Nic will be greatly missed by the Pioneer Kindergarten community and while they are looking forward to their retirement, they are excited for others to take up the reins.

The sisters have been a part of the more than 40,000 strong ECEC workforce who commit to ensure children across Queensland are given the highest quality care, support and education.

In departing, the pair have a direct message for future educators.

'We need passionate, dedicated teachers for all age groups, but particularly in those first years of learning to build strong foundations,' Jo said. 

'If you have a passion for small children and believe that their first experiences with more formal education is important, then most definitely consider becoming an early childhood teacher.'

Whether it be working in kindy, outside school hours care, family day care, long day care or our early years places, the people that drive this sector inspire, teach and nurture our youngest learners towards their full potential.

If you know someone interested in early childhood as a career path, be sure to share the latest information on pathways and qualifications​.​​

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Last updated 06 December 2022