In celebration of Mini-Skool’s 50th Anniversary in the child care industry, I thought I would share my journey with you at Mini-Skool, in hope that you will also do the same.
A Walk Down Memory Lane …………….
On September 21st of last year, I completed 35 years of service with Mini-Skool and I couldn’t help but reflect on my many experiences at Mini-Skool and wanted to share some of them with you.
I arrived at the Cawthra Road Mini-Skool on September 21st, 1983 shortly after graduating from College and secured the position of Room Supervisor for the two and half to three year old classroom. The capacity was twenty four and as I entered the room, I noticed that it was loud, disorganized and chaotic at best, as children were running around the room. Well, I thought that would be my first and last day at Mini-Skool! Anyway, I did return the next day and that’s when I started to discover the joys of Laughter, Love and Learning at Mini-Skool.
The children brought a great deal of laughter into my life, as I interacted with them. I especially enjoyed role playing with them in the Home living Centre, as it allowed me to get to know each one of them as individuals and assisted me in becoming better acquainted with their family life, so I could more effectively address their needs.
Each morning I was greeted with a great deal of love and affection through hugs and kisses. I think it was I who looked forward to that, as it always made my day, especially when I’m sure you’ll all agree that some mornings are better than others. I too grew to love each of them as if they were my own and embraced their uniqueness, innocence and the wonderful variety of personalities that always made every day fun and interesting.
I learned over time that each of us were there to learn from each other, as they taught me to appreciate the simple things in life, to be myself, not to take life too seriously and just to have some fun each and every day. They taught me to listen more effectively, as every human being needs to be heard whether or not we have something important to say or not. They taught me to laugh at some of my mistakes, as it is human to err and we always learn from them. Most importantly, I learned what a privilege it was to have the power and ability to impact so many little lives and truly play such a valuable part in contributing to their development socially, emotionally, physically and mentally. Wow, what an incredible privilege that is and I vowed, that I would never let them down, especially when their parents entrusted me with their most precious gift, their children!
The opportunity also became available for me to work with the Senior Kindergarten and School Age children, which has always been my preference and this experience was equally rewarding for me. I remember playing a game with them whereby you give them somewhat unusual words to describe the meaning, voluntarily of course and I was so incredibly amazed how confident they were, even when they had no idea what the word meant. It didn’t stop them from trying to define the word and there was no fear of judgment or ridicule, as there was no right answer, it was just another forum for learning and expression and I love that innocence about children. On one occasion I asked them what olive oil was and this little guy who was very prim and proper at best, Jeffrey Latosik said, “oh I know what it is.” He said “when a pot is full of oil, then it is all of oil.” Now that’s the power of creative thinking and everyone bought into it without a second thought! I honestly think at times that they took care of me and they certainly provided me with lots of entertainment!
Graduation was one of my most memorable moments at Mini-Skool. The SK Program at the time was “Beginning to Read, Write and Listen” and at the end of all the books, they actually learned to read a story that involved a variety of fun and colourful characters. So I decided that we would do a play based on the story and everyone would be involved, whether they set up props, had an acting role etc. Well, I’ll never forget this little guy Neil Sethi. When Neil first started in September of that year, he lacked so much confidence in himself that really saddened me. He was tiny and had thick glasses and always played with his hands in a nervous manner. Well, I’m proud to say, that he was the narrator of the play
on Graduation Day! I also remember walking into the class that evening and seeing how grown up they looked since the first day of class. They were all dressed up and exuded such self confidence and needless to say, I spent the rest of the evening in tears with most of the parents. The reward, however, was greater than I expected and I know that my job was done and that was all that really mattered at the end of the day!
I was also privileged to train as Back Up at the centre and learned a variety of new skills that assisted me in gaining a better comprehension and appreciation for the Director’s and Assistant Director’s positions and their valuable contribution to the centre. I also became involved in Health and Safety and in turn became the representative for that centre, as it was an area that interested me and I felt fortunate that I was given the opportunity to learn yet another aspect of the business. I thoroughly enjoyed learning the various aspects of the business and was always ambitious. In March of ‘87, I was fortunate to be promoted to the Directors position. In this position, I learned what a valuable contribution our employees made to the success of our organization. They too taught me many wonderful lessons that contributed to the mutual respect we earned from each other. I also learned to become more patient and understanding and how important it was to ensure that each person felt like they were part of a team. I also learned the importance of treating all individuals equally, not that I was ever a fan of favourites, especially in my teaching years. I learned to listen more effectively and value concerns and to always ensure that I provided solutions to problems where possible. Last but not least, I learned the value of excellent Customer Service, as it really is the heart and soul of any business!
In 1995, just as I thought of moving on, as I’d been in my position as Director for many years and needed a new challenge, I was promoted to my current position of General Manager for Mini-Skool. Let me confide in you, that as much as it was an honour, I was terrified and really didn’t feel that I would be able to meet the expectations required of the position, but thanks to those who obviously believed in me more than I believed in myself at the time, I reluctantly accepted the position. Well it has been such an amazing and wonderful experience for me, definitely filled with more Laughter, Love and Learning. I’ve had the honour and privilege of working with the most incredible, loyal, committed and caring group of Senior Management, Managers, Directors and Assistant Directors who have truly earned my greatest respect and admiration. I’ve also managed to acquire the most amazing group of work colleagues, that have gone above and beyond the call of duty for all of us at Mini-Skool and I am very thankful for them. All these parties have taught me so many things and I continue to enjoy sharing in their experiences, as I never want to stop learning from the wisdom that surrounds me and I’ve grown to appreciate that knowledge is one of the most wonderful gifts you can receive for free!
I’d be lying if I said that all my experiences were wonderful as there were some that were challenging in my various capacities at Mini-Skool and there were times that I really didn’t think I would be able to overcome them. However, I learned that if you embrace them in a positive way, you will quickly appreciate that challenges exist as lessons that we can learn from and there are solutions to every problem we encounter. Furthermore, we have a great deal of wisdom, support and resources available to us, to assist us with any challenges that come our way and the more we overcome them, it empowers us to become more self sufficient and confident to deal with the next one that greets us.
So, I end my Walk Down Memory Lane with a thankful heart for the gifts of Laughter, Love and Learning from each and every one of you and hope that your experiences at Mini-Skool are as rewarding as mine have been over the years and continue to get even better with your tenure in this fabulous organization!