Making every moment count
Melissa Carr experiences many memorable moments each day at Goodstart Ballajurra, Western Australia. Our Assistant Educator is involved in every aspect of the centre’s day-to-day activities - from greeting excited children and their families in the morning to setting up fun, learning-rich experiences and activities.
Yet, perhaps our Assistant Educator’s favourite part of the day is mealtime - a chance to sit with the children, share some healthy, delicious food, and strengthen the special bond they share.
“Meal times can be the best because we can wind down and have a chat,” Melissa says. “I know a bit of Italian, so I like to teach the children certain words. For example, ‘mangiare’, which means eat. Meal times are also a nice way for me to build the relationships I have with the children, especially if they’re feeling emotionally vulnerable. So, I joke around and make them laugh. If I can help them feel happy, comfortable and confident, that means a lot to me.”
With a Sicilian mother and British Indian father, Melissa grew up in a vibrant, loving and culturally diverse household. And at Goodstart, Melissa has discovered another big-hearted family.
“Family is very important to me, and Goodstart feels like a family. I like that we all live by the values I learnt growing up - fairness, acceptance, inclusiveness - and share them with the children, too. I love the people I work with, and I really enjoy building strong relationships with children and their families. It’s such a caring environment to be in.”
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Celebrating culture and diversity
Melissa is such a warm and valued member of the Goodstart team, it’s difficult to imagine that early childhood education was not her first career choice! In fact, Melissa was studying to become a Beauty Therapist when she began working in early education on a casual basis.
But Melissa loved her role so much that once she completed her Beauty Therapy course, she was inspired to join Goodstart Ballajurra permanently.
“I just loved the family feel of Goodstart. When I joined full-time in 2011, I started in the nursery, and for the next few years, I followed the same group of children as they progressed through the different rooms. It was lovely to see them learn and grow, and to be part of their journey.”
Melissa also cherishes being part of a safe, inclusive and welcoming team. “We are very multicultural, and I think that brings a lot of value to the Centre. I’ve been influenced in a positive way by so many people here. We’re all caring, friendly and open. And we’ve got a good sense of humour to keep things light and happy!”
Learning about the Noongar people, the Traditional Owners of the south-west of Western Australia, is important to Melissa, too. She fosters children’s curiosity and respect for Noongar culture by exploring the language with them, and has introduced some Noongar words to Goodstart Ballajurra’s daily “welcome” song.
Melissa also enthusiastically shares her love of pasta and all things Italian!
But above all, Melissa appreciates the beautiful connection she creates with children and their families on their learning journey.
“We have the annual Goodie Awards, and one of our families put in a nomination for me. Goodstart’s head office let me know it was from a family who had multiple children at the Centre - they said they were so happy that all their children had been cared for by me. That made me feel really valued. We put so much heart into what we do; it was lovely to get that acknowledgement.”
A place that works for you
Melissa has seized every opportunity to learn and grow at Goodstart. With the support of her Centre, she completed a traineeship to upgrade her Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care. Now, Melissa is studying for her Diploma. “My Centre Director assists me with anything I need to make my studies possible.
Goodstart understands life gets busy, so they do try to make things easy. I’ve felt very supported here.”
Once Melissa finishes her Diploma, it will open the door for her to explore other roles, such as Room Leader and Centre Director. “There are always opportunities to try new things and upskill at Goodstart. Recently, I
did a training program to learn more about autism spectrum disorder. This enables me to be one of Goodstart’s ‘autism champions’, which is about raising autism awareness and helping other Educators better support children who may have autism.”
And if you’re thinking of exploring a career with Goodstart? Melissa offers the following advice:
“The first five years are so important - you can make such a difference in a child’s life. If you want to do something purposeful and have a lot of love and care to give, I think Goodstart would be a great career choice for you.”