Stories Family Service Centre Stories From Emily: My role as a Team Leader at Papakura Early Learning Centre When Emily was looking for an opportunity to live and work overseas, she thought teaching English was her only key– but she was wrong! It was ECE teaching that opened the doors for her to move to New Zealand. Emily showing Whailer how to draw handprints Tell us a bit about yourself and what do you do at Great Potentials Foundation? I started working at Great Potentials Foundation as an ELC Team Leader at the Papakura Early Learning Centre in March 2023. I admit that even in this short time the role has already truly enriched my challenging but fulfilling calling as a teacher. In 2015, I came here on a student visa full of anticipation and big dreams. Having grown up in a small village in the Philippines, it sometimes still feels surreal eight years on, living in Auckland. Back home I was a ESOL teacher in a small college in town. Every year I found teaching more rewarding, so I pursued advanced degrees in education at a local university. In 2019 the Ministry of Education recognised my overseas ECE qualification, and I was able to get permanent teaching contracts and work in leadership roles. I recently got married and moved to Papakura. This life-changing move brought me to know about Great Potentials. What do you love the most about your job? For me, if there is one main ingredient that makes a healthy early learning centre, it is good relationships. It is a sense of belonging that makes me get up in the morning and intuitively know that it’s going to be another good day at work. A perk of an ECE teacher is that children are just natural comedians! It’s the human-to-human interaction where I learn from them as much as they learn from me. Every day at the centre, I get to form that special bond with children and let myself get drawn into their magical world – it nourishes my inner child. That lasting sweetness of “Thank you, Teacher Emily” on a child’s “Happy Last Day” is rewarding. Could you please share an unforgettable moment during your time in your role? One day I was chatting with a child waiting to be picked up who innocently told me she had walked to school because their car was broken. As sweet as she is, I just melted with her two-to-three-word replies to my questions - “Car broken, Daddy fix it, Walk to school.” When her mum finally arrived, she ran to her and proudly told me, “Mummy picks me up!”. Back in my office I reflected on how this little girl was simply describing how her day had begun and wasn’t stressed by the broken car. Without a care in the world, she enjoyed her day at Papakura Early Learning Centre and then when that most awaited person arrived saying, “Hi Whailer!”, she was the happiest in the world!