Goodstart Petrie won a Goodies award for Enabling Environments Excellence in SEQ North. And Centre Director, Megan Fisher, won the region's award for Goodstarter of the Year.
This accomplished early learning centre is almost always at full occupancy. Petrie's excellent environments and rock-solid team set them apart. How do they do it?
Centre Director, Megan, has been at Goodstart almost 20 years - an amazing milestone - and at Petrie for seven.
For Megan, pictured above with CEO Dr Ros Baxter and Deputy CEO Jeff Harvie, it’s the families that motivate her at work each day.
Megan's nomination for Goodstarter of the Year featured many supporting statements. She said that reading the glowing comments was 'one of the best experiences'.
The testimonials echoed praise for her positive impact. Children expressed their love for Miss Megan. Parents commended her friendliness, caring nature, and support during transitions. And Educators recognised her motivational leadership style.
Megan is an inspirational, compassionate, and dedicated leader. Her energy helps to keep good staff around and drive them to excel. Much of Megan’s team is longstanding: two Educators have been at Petrie for 20 years each (pictured below).
The centre team place children at the forefront. Their approach is a great example for our sector.
A happy workplace for Educators and leaders at Petrie
Employee retention at Petrie has somewhat of a formula. A thriving environment, genuine recognition, and family engagement are all vital.
Megan said: “It's our priority to create a positive culture. We work in a supportive environment where we genuinely care for each other. And keeping a sense of fun and laughter in our interactions is a key part of that. This atmosphere makes the workplace enjoyable and fulfilling.”
In turn, Megan feels valued and empowered by Goodstart. She said: “The support from higher management has been consistent over the years. It has been a strong motivator for me to excel. And the encouragement fuels my professional growth. It's a big part of my job satisfaction.”
She added: “Goodstart supports me to foster my own personal leadership style. They provide a culture that encourages autonomy and growth. We have opportunities to refine skills, contribute ideas and impact the workplace. And we can lean on coaches, practice leads and peers.”
Relationships make the difference for Megan. In particular, the positive impact she makes to families’ lives.
She said: “Observing children's development is so rewarding. I get to connect with families, support and guide them through challenging times. And then to witness positive outcomes is so fulfilling. I aim to make a meaningful difference. The goal is to provide an early childhood experience they'll remember."
Megan said: “I get to build my beliefs here. I can establish and lead a thriving workplace and transform the service to reflect my values.”
Inclusive and enabling environments for all children
With a solid team and workplace culture, Petrie has been in a perfect position to elevate its service.
The team recently transformed their offering to help all children thrive. They started with reflection and shifted perspectives and practices. Then, they were able to shape environments that are inclusive, empathetic and supportive.
Petrie’s guiding philosophy places children at the core of activities. They emphasise building relationships with trust, support, and emotional security. And children's voices are integral throughout the service.
ACECQA’s Quality Rating Scales became instrumental in shaping Petrie's approach to transformation. The requirements guide ongoing improvement efforts. They help centres foster environments that stimulate curiosity, exploration and engagement.
Practice Partner, Vijayata Chandra and Centre Coach, Cassie Barraud, supported the change. Petrie developed purposeful play spaces and established flexible, inclusive routines. The scope included all-day indoor-outdoor program.
They also added a flexible sleep routine and progressive meals. This allows children to eat within a longer period of time. Staff can be guided by their appetites and rhythms, rather than the clock. It reflects the centre's ‘commitment to child agency’.
The team collaborated to transform the centre’s back yard. Its design includes an expanded Reconciliation Walk and a new Reconciliation Garden. The space offers a sanctuary for retreat and care, particularly for vulnerable children. And it symbolises a united journey of reconciliation at Petrie.
Added climbing challenges support active play and unique growth journeys. And the integrated natural elements enhance sensory experiences and wellbeing. The environment is also flexible, with open-ended materials and diverse learning opportunities. It empowers children to make choices, fostering autonomy and decision-making skills.
Flexibility woven throughout the early learning centre has reaped many benefits. It allows Educators to engage in more meaningful moments with the children. Not having to adhere to strict routines has also reduced stress in the workplace.
Petrie’s transformation helped them win an award for Enabling Environments Excellence. Ultimately, it addresses children’s unique needs. They're able to build on strong relationships, reflective practice and tailored experiences.
Megan and her dedicated team place children at the forefront. They foster an inclusive and inspiring learning environment that benefits all. Petrie's journey had some challenges and reaped many rewards. It's an inspiring example for centres seeking to create truly enabling environments.