Jane Dixon has always been passionate about early childhood education (ECE). With over a decade of experience, she was the ideal choice to lead ACG Parnell Early Learning School.
Jane's educational philosophy and clear vision about what matters most for children made a strong impression on ACG Parnell College Principal Damian Watson. And he is delighted to have appointed someone of her calibre to the role.
"We took our time to find the best possible person, and Jane's passion, knowledge, expertise and care for children and her staff come through strongly. We are thrilled to have her on board."
Ready to lead ACG Parnell Early Learning School into its next development phase, Jane begins her new role as Centre Manager this week. In a recent interview, the experienced educator shares her approach to ECE and her excitement about meeting her young charges and their families.
What are the most important aspects of an Early Learning School (ELS)?
Building relationships with everyone involved in each child's learning journey is essential to ensure we encompass a holistic approach to learning and refine this to the child's individual needs.
Another essential quality is intentional and reflective teachers. They are able to meet the child's needs in ways that are most valuable to their learning while ensuring the ELS resources are utilised effectively.
What was it that attracted you to ACG Parnell Early Learning School?
Their philosophy around the Reggio Emilia approach. In my most recent role, I was centre manager for almost six years in a Reggio-inspired preschool. So this methodology to learning has been deeply embedded in my teaching philosophy. My core values centre around relationships, respect and building on children's natural desire to explore and investigate the world around them.
What are you most looking forward to in your new role?
Getting to know the children and their whanau (family), as well as my colleagues.
What excites you about ECE?
During a child's first five years, they learn and absorb so much about the world around them. And the skills they acquire during these years will often be the foundation to how they approach learning in the future. These years are crucial as children's brains create critical connections that support their emotional, physical, social and cognitive development. I love watching children gain the social skills they will take with them and enhance over their lifetime.
What is your educational philosophy?
Relationships underpin my educational philosophy. By building relationships with parents (as the child's first teachers) and the child, we can alter our teaching approach to best fit each youngster's unique needs and learning trajectory. I believe that children grow and learn at their own pace, and our role as teachers is to support, scaffold and challenge them. I am passionate about the environment being the third teacher and believe that sometimes it is important to step back and allow children to explore uninterrupted as they create innovative solutions to their problems.
How important is a child's early learning experience?
Children's experiences in their early years can shape how they see and experience the world throughout their lives. If children are encouraged to persevere, advocate for themselves and others, and understand that we never stop learning, they will become the best possible versions of themselves.
How do you keep learning exciting for young children?
We hone into the child's interests and create an environment that encourages investigation and a sense of curiosity, sparking the need to explore further. By harnessing a child's interests both within the environment and through our interactions with them, we can inspire children to become lifelong learners.
What makes a great ELS?
Having passionate teachers that offer a range of learning experiences in a warm and inviting environment. Choosing a centre can be very difficult, and parents need to feel comfortable with the environment and people they are entrusting with their child's care. So creating these connections is crucial to a great centre.
What is the most rewarding aspect of the role for you?
I most enjoy watching each child's communication journey. I love how their vocabulary and emotional literacy develop over time as they learn to play with others and negotiate activities with those around them. It is rewarding to see children leave our care as competent and active leaders of their learning experiences, articulating their needs and aspirations.
What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
Travelling to new places and being outdoors with my whanau. As a family, we spend a lot of time camping, swimming and going on long bike rides throughout the North Island. I enjoy going for runs or hikes, and one of our favourite adventures has been biking the Te Ara Ahi track. I also love to bake and usually spend my Sundays baking treats for my children to enjoy through the week.
What would your friends or family say to describe you in five words or less?
Glass half-full viewpoint.