Seeking to grow your early learning career? Tammy O’Hare shares her inspiring journey to leadership at Goodstart
How do you start your workday? Do you get to greet dozens of beaming faces bursting with excitement to see you? Tammy O’Hare does! After 30 years as an early learning professional, our Educational Coordinator still experiences the pure joy of welcoming children to her centre each morning. Tammy has forged an incredible career at Goodstart, driven by her passion for creating strong futures, families and communities. The secret to her success? Nurturing relationships and seizing every opportunity to learn and grow.
It’s easy to start your day on the right foot as the first person to welcome children to a Goodstart Early Learning centre. Tammy O’Hare had this delightful job every morning as a Teacher at Goodstart Nollamara. And now, as Educational Coordinator, she gets to do it at our new centre in the Perth CBD.
“It’s my favourite time of day,” Tammy says. “The kids are expecting to see you and they’re so excited and full of energy for the day ahead. It’s lovely to have those early interactions with the parents, too, so they can leave knowing their children are happy and in good hands.”
If anyone understands the importance of caring, stable relationships in a young child’s life, it’s Tammy. In the 30 years that she’s been in early learning, Tammy knows it’s the small yet meaningful interactions between Educator and child that help give littlies the best start to life.
“As a child, you always dream of what you want to be when you grow up, and I always wanted to be a teacher,” Tammy says. “I adored my teachers. I had such memorable interactions with them and thought, ‘That’s what I want to do. I want to be someone who gives children that really positive experience.’”
And that’s exactly what she does. Tammy is a highly experienced early learning professional who inspires and supports her teams to create enjoyable and rich learning experiences. It’s a calling she holds close to her heart.
“It’s profound to think that we can make a difference to a child’s future. The first five years of a child’s life are so important. I believe all children deserve high-quality education and care, and if I can be a part of that, then I’m not going anywhere!”
Are you searching for a meaningful career, supportive culture and the chance to grow?
Driving real change
Tammy is excited to be Educational Coordinator at Goodstart Perth Kaadidjiny Maya. The new centre has been named using the local Noongar language, with Kaadidjiny meaning “learning” and Maya meaning “place”. Tammy says her role is to instil a passion for livelong learning in children and her team of Educators.
“I aim to inspire, motivate, affirm, and challenge or extend the practice and pedagogy of our Educators. I am passionate about guiding and developing educators’ and families’ understandings about play-based learning, and the significance of education in the early years for children.”
Tammy’s early learning career began in Victoria in 1991. Driven to deliver the best possible outcomes, she adored watching children learn and gain confidence through play-based learning. And when Goodstart Early Learning acquired her centre in 2009, Tammy really hit her stride in her career.
Professional development has always been a priority for Tammy. In 2012, she started studying for her Bachelor of Education (Early Childhood), which she completed in 2016 after relocating to Western Australia. With the support of her team and mentors, Tammy gained her provisional teaching license, then became a fully registered Teacher in 2020.
“The opportunities I’ve had at Goodstart have been endless. If you want to progress into a new role, the support is there. Goodstart prioritises professional development to help us grow as people and Educators and to create better experiences for children.”
Playing a pivotal role in several Goodstart initiatives over the years, it’s no surprise Tammy was named WA winner of the 2021 CEO’s Goodstarter of the Year award. In fact, she was one of the first Educators to help us embed our Key Educator approach in our centres.
“The Key Educators approach is all about building strong, secure relationships with children. I was lucky enough to be invited to NSW and see the pilot program in action. I immediately saw the benefits and made Key Educators a priority at my centre. A Key Educator is a child’s go-to person - someone they have a special connection with. While we all care for each child at our centres, Key Educators form that deeper bond, so the child feels safe and secure, which is essential for their learning and wellbeing.”
Ensuring a culture of respect and inclusivity is also important to Tammy, who spearheaded a Reconciliation Action Plan at our Nollamara centre.
“I became really aware of the importance of reconciliation during my teacher registration process. Talking to my peers, I realised we all wanted to respect First Nations culture in our centres, but we didn’t want to be tokenistic. I knew I needed to engage with the Indigenous people in our community to find the right way forward. So, I contacted the City of Stirling, our local council, and asked if I could become a member of their Reconciliation Working Group.”
Tammy worked closely with the Noongar community of Perth, building strong relationships, attending reconciliation events, and even undertaking a course in the Nyungar language. Contributing to the community’s Reconciliation Action Plan helped Tammy drive real change in her own centre.
“We do an acknowledgment of country in our centre each morning, but it’s really driven by the children. They are genuinely interested in learning about Indigenous culture, and they respect it. By teaching children from a young age about the cultures of our country, we can have a huge impact on reconciliation in the future.”
A career built on care
It’s an exciting and busy time for Tammy as she nurtures her team at our new Perth centre. Her days aren’t without challenges, but this compassionate leader appreciates the flexibility of her role so she can spend quality time with her husband and two children.
“Goodstart has always accommodated my family’s needs. When my children were little, I was able to work split shifts. And if I ever need a day off, it’s not an issue. I know Goodstart considers my health and wellbeing as important as the children’s. But I have so much fun at the centre, I don’t need to take a day off too often!”
Whether you’re new to early learning or mid-career, Tammy offers the following advice for anyone thinking of joining the Goodstart team:
“If professional development is important to you, the opportunities are unbelievable. You’ll be part of a fantastic team with supportive leaders who want you to grow and develop. You can choose the training you want to do and shape your role to suit you. The progression is amazing.”
A job that changes lives. A place that works for you.