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Meet our Educational Leaders of the Year

Two amazing Goodstarters jointly won at the national Goodies Awards 2023.

Careers and employment

Article by Deni Kirkova

The Goodies Awards celebrate outstanding contributions to early childhood education. And we have two winners for the new Educational Leader of the Year award in 2023.

Sandra D’Rozario of Canning Vale - Batman Road, and Demee Mumford of Doncaster East, jointly won. They were recognised for their committment to excellence and innovation.

Educational Leaders are heroes in early learning. They're crucial to the quality of teaching and learning at Goodstart centres. And they're the resident pedagogues, so they contribute to ongoing practice improvement. 

Educational Leaders are curious and strategic advocates for children, helping create enriching experiences. As leaders, they inspire Educators and create environments where best practice thrives.

Did you know? Goodstart exceeds the sector average. An awesome 98% of our 660+ centres score Meeting or Exceeding in the National Quality Standard. 

At Goodstart, 2023 was the Year of the Educational Leader. So, it's fitting that this new award recognises their life-changing work. 

We recognise our people's passion and dedication through the annual Goodies Awards. Here, we celebrate Sandra and Demee who won the new national award for Educational Leader of the Year.

Sandra D’Rozario’s Transformative Leadership at Canning Vale - Batman Road

Sandra has been Assistant Director and Educational Leader at Goodstart Canning Vale - Batman Road since 2017

Sandra D'Rozario was a Teacher at Goodstart Canning Vale - Batman Road for nine years. 

She moved into the role of Educational Leader and Assistant Director in 2017. Since then, she has been an exceptional mentor and beacon for change.

When she started in her role, Sandra recognised that her centre needed a shift in focus. Educators needed to be more actively engaged with the children. This aligned with her personal philosophy, too. So, Sandra embarked on a journey of positive change.

Building relationships with the team was one of her key focus areas. Sandra held regular room meetings for reflection and provided strategic, constructive feedback. This helped her ensure practice aligned with the centre philosophy. 

Sandra's team worked on building relationships with children, families and each other. It set a strong foundation for effective teaching and learning at Canning Vale - Batman Road.

The practice uplift journey helped ensure high quality early learning and care. Under Sandra’s leadership, the centre achieved an ‘Exceeding’ rating in all 7 Quality Areas. They also won the state KindiCare Excellence Award with a rating of 9.9. It's a remarkable achievement. Sandra navigated a severe staff shortage through the process. She also mentored educators for leadership roles. 

Sandra is dedicated to continuous learning. She proactively seeks out opportunities for upskilling. And she inspires her team while championing their development and wellbeing. 

When her team said they felt burnt out, Sandra supported them. She proposed strategic changes to documentation schedules so they would have less paperwork. Sandra said: "An exceptional leader turns values into action and obstacles into stepping stones.

"I'm driven by excellence, equity and innovation. I aim to create a community of learners who share passion and vision. To foster a culture of trust and collaboration, I listen and guide as we build consensus. This helps everyone feel valued, respected and supported.

“Becoming a great leader requires work; it’s not overnight. We must hold onto the goal of high quality learning and care for every single child."

Goodies judges commented on Sandra's "leadership, continuous growth, planning, training and support". Through this combination, she fostered an environment that ensured best practice. They added: "Sandra led change through role modelling. Her passion and dedication empowers educators to give it their best."

Demee Mumford Elevated Educational Environments at Doncaster East

Demee started as Educational Leader in February 2023Senior Educator Demee took on the extra role of Educational Leader in February. She was passionate about capturing children's voices. And in just a few months, Demee helped to uplift environments and practice. Soon, Doncaster East introduced child-led quality improvement plans in every room.

Demee seeks to understand children's perspectives. She supports fellow educators in being thoughtful and intentional. Her collaborative approach helps her form lasting relationships with her team. And it supports their ongoing development. Ultimately, it leads to high quality education and care for children.

Under Demee's leadership, the centre has made key changes in planning cycles. They now align with the UN convention rights of the child.

Demee's achievements include helping the centre get an 'Exceeding' rating. 

And Demee's work supports everyone's improvement. Demee hosted an open night in June 2023 where she presented the centre's journey. Hundreds of educators tuned into a video stream. This sparked requests for support from other centres. Later, Demee created an educational "environments in action" video. This is used for training across the organisation.

Demee advises new Educational Leaders to learn from others. She recommends reaching out to other centres to see what they're doing. And in turn, be an approachable leader who is willing to share knowledge. Attend Community of Practice meetings to keep on learning. She says it's important to take time to understand the role and develop a vision with your team.

“Educational Leaders inspire and encourage others to see their full potential," said Demee. "I believe a strengths-based approach delivers the best outcome."

Goodstart supports Educational Leaders and their work through opportunities for continuous improvement. Demee said: "They give us the tools to thrive and, in turn, to reach for exceeding outcomes for our centres.”

The Goodies judges commend Demee for promoting deep professional and pedagogical engagement. She does this through "research, reflective practice and critical, collaborative dialogue".

Reflecting and Celebrating Achievements

Both Sandra and Demee are proud of their accomplishments.

As part of their award win, they get an international professional development opportunity. Next year, they'll join a study tour hosted by Chief Children’s Officer, Sue Robb. A few other national Goodies winners will be there too.

Sandra and Demee's dedication to children is evident. Their strategic improvement and transformation work is inspiring. It sets a standard for excellence in our sector. That’s why we celebrate them. 

Congratulations Sandra and Demee!

At Goodstart, our people get above-award wages. We provide opportunities for professional development, career progression and flexible work arrangements.

Interested? Explore jobs at Goodstart.

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