The 35-year-old Hobart educator joined the industry after a career working as a team leader at a call centre and a factory, in managerial positions.
But he had developed a passion for working with children and when he saw a job advertised at the brand new Goodstart Hobart West centre, he was interested.
“I left childcare for a while but really missed the interaction with the children and I really love being a childcare teacher,” Mr Plunkett said.
“People don’t become early childhood teachers to make money. We do it because we want to make a difference in children’s lives.
“I knew of Goodstart, knew it was a not-for-profit organisation and did a lot of research about its goals to ensure children were the priority.”
Mr Plunkett applied for the job and was immediately taken by the enthusiasm and confidence of the centre director Deb Manion and educator Kylie Botteril.
“I had been out of the industry for a while but when I saw the opportunities the Hobart West centre could provide, I knew I wanted to be there,” Mr Plunkett said.
“Right from the beginning I like the idea of working for a not-for-profit organisation such as Goodstart and I knew there was a real drive there to create life-changing opportunities for children.”
Mr Plunkett said while the idea of starting a new centre was a big challenge, he had no doubts he was making the right choice. As well as being in a heritage-listed building in a picturesque area in Hobart, the centre (pictured below) had a brand new commercial-graded kitchen, new play equipment and stunning architectural design.
“You can build the centre as you want to. We had a lot of people from many different backgrounds working here and so we shared all of our knowledge to create a place we loved working in.”
And building a new team from the ground up was a major factor.
“All of the team met before we started and talked about what excellence looked like and how we could create that. By setting those goals early, and not having to fix problems, we all hit the ground running with a common goal,” Mr Plunkett said.
“And I think with childcare, the people who work in the industry are not there because of the money, they’re there because they really want to be and so that really helps.”
The biggest challenge, says Mr Plunkett, was building trust with the large number of new families who enrolled their families at the centre.
“We didn’t have a proven reputation at the beginning but the quality of the educators and the environment have shone through.”
With several brand new purpose-built centres opening their doors in the Goodstart network in coming months, opportunities for educators are abundant.
Three new centres are opening in Sydney, in conjunction with the City of Sydney, including Huntley Street Early Learning Centre at Alexandria, East Sydney Early Learning Centre at Darlinghurst and The Crescent Early Learning Centre at Annandale. Goodstart North Melbourne and a new centre in Adelaide St in Brisbane will follow.
These new centres will have the benefit of a 12–month support program from Goodstart which includes targeted marketing and events.
Goodstart is Australia’s largest early learning provider and is a not-for-profit social enterprise, existing solely to improve the lives of Australia’s children and their families. Team members can enjoy professional training and development, career progression opportunities and childcare discounts.
“It was definitely challenging leaving a management job to join Goodstart and starting at a new centre but I think I would have trouble working anywhere else now! It’s wonderful to work in a place where I love my job.”
If you are interested in roles at the City of Sydney centres, North Melbourne or Brisbane, visit the Goodstart careers site at www.careers.goodstart.org.au