Last year, Matilda Adlam was studying screenwriting at RMIT and working in retail. One day, a child and their mother came into the store where she was working. “It was a quiet day so the child and I played with his paper aeroplane and then he asked if he could do some jobs around the store, while his mother shopped,” Matilda recalls. “When the family left, my colleague commended me on my patience. I was shocked. I had been thinking how lucky I was to have this joyful child with us.” The same day, Matilda started to investigate a career in early childhood education. “It had always been an area I was interested in exploring,” she says. “I was often told by family members how my musical, animated, enthusiastic energy would suit an early childhood setting.” Matilda researched traineeships and knew that Gowrie Victoria would be the perfect fit. “Their clear set of values and dedication to quality education and care made so much sense to me.”

Describe your journey with Gowrie so far.

When I first started working at our Carlton North, I was completely new to the sector. I knew that I had a passion and an excitement for educating children, and that I was enthusiastic and eager to learn. Over the past three months I have done just that. Though there are a million new lessons every day, the area I feel I have grown to understand the most is the planning cycle. I could never have imagined the amount of effort and dedication that goes into the planning. Gowrie’s philosophy, goals and values are so purposefully interwoven into every choice made about the curriculum and everyday activities. One other significant take-away to mention is the appreciation for growth, learning, making mistakes and engaging in critical reflection. One of the practices that makes Gowrie such an excellent place for early childhood development is the commitment to constantly improving our quality of care.

What is the purpose of your role?

My purpose as an educator is to deliver the best care for the children and families that are a part of our amazing community. Every interaction with a child in our centre is an opportunity to support their development and learning. I am constantly impressed and inspired by the educators around me and their commitment to caring for each child. Aside from my duty of care to ensure children are in a safe, comfortable, and supportive environment every day, it is my role to help them become the best versions of themselves.

What do you love most about your role?

I have always identified myself as having a passion for people! I love to engage with everyone I meet in a meaningful and thoughtful way. I have found that working in early childhood education is the best and most fulfilling way to do this. Children have a beautiful, very moving capacity for authenticity and originality. You won’t find anyone else better at being themselves! It creates an energy (one that is supported by our amazing staff and their respect for children’s personalities and imaginations) that I adore being a part of. I think the best way to articulate what I love most about Gowrie the sense of home and belonging.

What are you most passionate about in your work?

I remember on my very first day, sitting in on a group activity where the educators and children were discussing empathy. I could not believe how in-line my own values were with the curriculum, and how richly they were embedded in the children’s everyday lives. Since then, I have become even more proud to work somewhere so committed to promoting love and respect. At Gowrie, there is an emphasis on kindness and decency across the services. This means respect for Country, respect for each other, and respect for ourselves. I am hugely passionate about promoting this sense of kindness in my everyday practice.

What does an average day look like?

Our day has a fantastic flow and structure. I love the morning, when everyone is just arriving. I look forward to hearing the children’s stories, which they recount with pure delight, especially on a Monday after the weekend! During morning meeting, we all say our Acknowledgement of Country, sometimes discussing what it means and why we do it. Then we move on to small groups. These are often constructed in response to children’s interests. We are a children-focused centre, meaning we observe areas that the children are excited about and incorporate them into experiences that have specific learning areas. We also give children a choice about which group to participate in, to encourage a belief in their own agency. Another part of the day that stands out is regular group time. This is when we come together as a room for a group activity, such as reading a story. My favourite part is discussing the story afterwards. Children are so intelligent, creative, and insightful.