From teens to tots

Michael Loretz

Deputy principal Michael Loretz left a 21-year career in secondary teaching to retrain as an early childhood teacher.

Michael Loretz and his wife Rebecca began to entertain the idea of opening an early childhood centre after seeing their nine children go through kindergarten. With that goal in mind, the former deputy principal at Mt Roskill Grammar decided to leave a 21-year career teaching secondary school to complete a Graduate Diploma in Teaching
(Early Childhood Education) at The University of Auckland.

“The environment’s so tactile and interesting that I can really imagine myself in that context,” says Loretz of early childhood education settings.

“Everything’s fluid, there’s no sort of set idea of what you want to achieve apart from you want the kids to explore their world and make meaning of things and grow in literacies of all sorts. So I am looking forward to that more open, diverse environment.”

Male ECE teachers in demand

Loretz will be a welcome addition to early childhood education. Recent MBIE data shows the demand for ECE teachers is forecast to rise steadily over the next three to five years, and male teachers are in demand, given latest census statistics show only three percent of teachers in the early childhood sector are men.

Loretz thinks men bring a much-needed masculine perspective to early childhood education.

“Often children lack fathers in their lives; having men in education is not a substitute for that but certainly a masculine influence is something kids also need,” he says.

“I have noticed that I am sort of a minority, but that doesn’t bother me – there’s a worthy job to do. It’s fun doing it and it’s one of the most rewarding things people can do.”

From Trelise Cooper to Te Whāriki

Danielle Smith

Upon realising the fashion industry wasn’t for her, Danielle Smith found fulfilment in early childhood education.

Danielle Smith was a young girl who lived and breathed fashion with a dream of one day being involved in the glamorous industry. After her dreams came true, she enjoyed three years working as a senior cutter at a renowned clothing cutting business, cutting garments for the likes of world- renowned Kiwi designers Karen Walker and Trelise Cooper, but when the time came to start a family Smith felt that the demanding fashion industry was no longer suited to her lifestyle and she needed to pursue a more flexible career path.

After a lot of soul searching and research, Smith decided to study early childhood education. She was drawn to the profession by her love of children and inspired by her own beautiful childhood.

“I was brought up in a very holistic sense, my life was enriched with meaningful, respectful relationships and interactions and I had a very attentive family. I felt that I was capable of providing the same care, nurturing, and developmental experiences I had as a child, and I wanted to be able to share this with children attending early childhood centres,” she says.

She decided to pursue an early childhood education qualification to further her skill set, studying towards a Bachelor of Teaching (Early Childhood Education) at New Zealand Tertiary College (NZTC) for five years, taking a two-year break from her study when her daughter was born.

Work-life balance

She credits the college’s unique online-learning study mode (NZTC Online) for enabling her to balance her study with her family commitments and part-time work.

“I love the flexibility that NZTC provides. It allowed me to have a second child and come back to my study, and they were warm and welcoming like I’d never left. There was a lot of support, they knew where I was at and what I was up to,” she says.

The networking within NZTC was a highlight for Danielle who enjoyed chatting online to other ECE students throughout New Zealand, hearing about their different experiences at early childhood centres, and within their respective communities and families.

Smith was the top Māori graduate in her 2015 class. Heleine Feki, NZTC’s lecturer (Pasifika Leadership, Māori Partnership) described her as “an amazing student” and very determined.

NZTC CEO Selena Fox also commended Smith on her outstanding results.

“NZTC provides specific and relevant additional support to our Māori and Pasifika students with initiatives such as the korero talanoa nights led by Heleine. Danielle utilised this assistance, never afraid to ask for help. She will be a highly valued ECE practitioner.”

After working in the cutthroat, demanding, and highly stressful fashion industry, Danielle is enjoying the different lifestyle that a career in early childhood education affords her; most importantly, more time to spend with her two young children.

“I love the flexibility of ECE and the satisfaction I get after a day’s work. Who wouldn’t be satisfied after a day of cuddles and drooly kisses from a room of 12 beautiful under-two-year-olds? I never felt like that after a day working in the fashion industry.

“I understand my children more, and have gained a really deep respect for our small New Zealanders who are our future, so the better care they receive, the better our future for New Zealand.”

“I love the flexibility of ECE and the satisfaction I get after a day’s work.”

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