Hannah always knew she wanted to be a teacher. Living in London, she went straight from school to university where she studied American and English literature, followed by a post-graduate teaching qualification. “I had a year abroad and spent half of it in Los Angeles and the other half in Sydney,” Hannah said. “I then taught at a kindergarten in London for almost eight years and absolutely loved it. But for some reason I couldn’t get Australia out of my head.” Hannah applied for her permanent visa so she could move to Melbourne and experience the early education system in Australia. She joined Gowrie in 2021, as an Educator at Carlton North and was quickly promoted to Educational Leader at Broadmeadows. “When I first moved here, I did some casual teaching and nannying, but I would often walk past Gowrie Carlton North because I lived in the area,” Hannah said. “I thought it looked amazing and knew that’s where I wanted to be, so when a job came up, I knew I had to go for it.”

What is the purpose of your role?

A big part of my role is being present in the rooms, coaching and mentoring staff, and modelling practice. It’s about helping them problem solve and try new ways of approaching things. I also help facilitate new projects. Our staff are amazing, capable people – I just bring people together to disperse ideas and support what they’re doing. I also oversee the Community of Practice groups, which were formed to look at incorporating things like Indigenous Perspectives and Lighter Footprints into our programs.

What is your latest project?

Here at Broadmeadows, we have started implementing our Playing IT Safe project, which aims to support children’s understanding of technology; how beneficial it can be and how to use it safely. Most children think technology is just iPads and phones and there are some frightening figures out there on how many children have access to these, so we look at broadening this understanding by introducing things like walkie talkies and polaroid cameras to the service. The children took the camera to their On Country session and learned to ask for consent from a friend before taking their photo. We also had a photobooth set up in the centre, which families were invited to use. This has all been made possible through funding from the Gandel Foundation, with extra support from the Alannah & Madeline Foundation.

What does the future hold for you?

I’m really looking forward to some new projects and ideas I’m involved in at Gowrie. I recently received a grant through the Association of Graduates in Early Childhood Studies to do therapy dog training with my Labrador, Gus. We’re looking at slowly introducing this as an extension of our trauma-informed practice. There’s been so much research on how powerful a therapy dog can be in calming children and helping them regulate their emotions.

I’ve also been asked to contribute to a study on student teachers, with one of my old professors in the UK and another professor in Turkey. We have many students doing their Bachelor training while working for Gowrie and I’ll be helping with research for this study on Gowrie’s behalf.

If you have any queries please contact Gowrie Victoria Professional Learning on 1300 4 GOWRIE or email training@gowrievictoria.org.au