14th September 2019
In Conversation with Monica Cooper Centre Manager of Everton Hills
Monica Cooper is the Centre Manager for Everton Hills, a light-filled centre which features a glass-walled art atelier, a light atelier and herb and vegetable gardens. Monica took a few minutes out of her busy day to share insights on her career background, her education approach and a few fun facts.
Tell us about your time working in early childcare and education so far and what inspires you each day?
I first began volunteering in the childcare sector in 1997, in a small family owned centre across the street from home. I really enjoyed spending time with the babies and watching the curiosity on their faces when I read them stories, sang them songs and played peek a boo. Volunteering helped me realise that I wanted to make a difference in children’s lives. I tried to enrol in the local Tafe in NSW, but this proved to be difficult. You couldn’t study childcare if you weren’t employed in the sector, and you couldn’t get employment unless you were studying. I had to put my dreams on hold and concentrated on my little family.
I moved to Queensland with my husband and four children in 2002, and began my Certificate III through ABC the following year. On my first day of Prac at Kallangur ABC, I was approached by the Centre Manager who offered me a casual position within the company. After completing my Certificate III and beginning my diploma, I was promoted to Group Leader of the Nursery Room.
In 2005, I took a break from the industry to focus on my family, and returned in 2006, as I missed engaging with children, planning activities and networking with colleges. I re-enrolled in a diploma through a small company called Bright Futures, and secured a role as a Group Leader at a kindergarten through my classes there. The owner of the kindergarten, Gail, was an ex-high school mathematics teacher, and taught me the power of lesson planning and children’s rights.
In 2008 I completed my Diploma in Children’s Services and began studying a Bachelor of Education. I continued to work at Beehive Kindy for the next five years, and moved my way through the ranks to become Assistant Manager.
My curiosity and thirst for learning and leading led me to be appointed as an OSCH Coordinator for PCYC, based at Scarborough State School. I enjoyed my position and responsibilities at PCYC but really missed the early childhood sector.
I returned to early childhood and worked at The Gap Cubby House for three years. During that period, I had my work cut out for me in turning the centre around and boosting occupancy. With my team, we managed to turn a broken centre into one that was rated Exceeding and had a 12 month waitlist.
From there, I ran a small centre on Bribie Island, which taught me the importance of community connections, and spent a few years there before finding my dream job, working at Guardian Everton Hills. 12 months on, and I am a very happy Centre Manager of an amazing centre. I have a very supportive Assistant Manager and an amazing team of Educators who share my vision. Everton Hills is currently smashing targeted occupancy and the word of mouth is amazing.
What have you learnt about children during your early childcare and education career and how would you sum up your approach/passion to helping them on their learning, emotional, social and life journey?
Through my journey in early childhood, I have learnt that all children should be given the opportunity to be the best version of themselves. Children should be valued as strong, capable and resilient learners, rich with wonder and knowledge. Young children may grow at a rapid pace, but they still rely on the guidance of Educators to help them grow into responsible, respectful and intellectually curious human beings. I believe it’s our job as Educators to foster children’s growth and development by building on children’s interests, needs and strengths within a safe and caring environment.
What are you most excited about working with children on/teaching children about and why?
I am excited to have the privilege to work with children, and help them learn and achieve. I love watching their wonder increase the more they learn. I love building strong connections with each child and their families, and learning about their stories, their aspirations and how I can make a difference in their lives.
5 quick fun facts about Monica
- I first came to Australia in 1975 with my mother and seven siblings as a refugee as a result of the war between East Timor and Indonesia.
- I umpire for Netball Queensland at state events.
- I enjoy the art of crochet.
- I have four children, and three of them work in the childcare sector.
- My daughter Tayla Cooper is the Assistant Manager at Guardian Newstead.