We’re excited to bring a new segment to our Imagine News, where we’ll put the spotlight on our amazing staff and learn a little more about them and why they love being part of our Imagine family.
We’ve chosen to feature Imagine Templestowe Centre Director, Shirley Stromei, as our very first Staff Spotlight interviewee. Shirley has worked with us for eight years building a fantastic reputation in the community, and has just retired from her position. Over the past eight years, she’s been such an inspiration, mentor, and leader to her team; and helped create a warm, nurturing, and inclusive community for our Imagine Templestowe families.
Q: Hi Shirley! Can you please tell us a little bit about your childcare background?
A: In the early part of my career I worked in retail with the Target group of companies, and reached the position of Area Manager. However, after 12 years I believed I needed a change. It was then I was introduced to the world of early childhood education through my work with our local neighbourhood house. From there I moved into community childcare and spent 10 years as Kindergarten Assistant, Room Leader, 2IC, and Centre Director.
Q: And can you please tell us a little about your time with Imagine Templestowe?
A: I started at Imagine Templestowe in early 2014. Instantly I found it a rewarding challenge building a small centre into a leading mid-size centre. I found the key to be staff, as it was critical to bring them along with me on the challenge of improving the centre. Over time I built up personal rapport with all my families and we changed a service business into an early childhood community.
Q: What are some of your most memorable moments during your time with Imagine Templestowe?
A: There are so many memorable moments over the eight years, that it’s hard to pick one. Certainly being involved in the many activities we have had with community such as graduation event, family days, special incursions, and many more have been a highlight.
Q. What do you love about being part of the early childhood community?
A: Watching children’s growth through the years, achieving their goals at each milestone from Nursery through to Kinder, and leaving us prepared and ready for school. I also love communicating and building relationships with all our families. It is always rewarding to build a one-on-one relationship throughout the years with Mum and Dad. I also find joy in seeing our former children return just to say hello, and recognising that they are still a part of our Imagine community.
Q: What is your favourite part of your position?
A: I think the favourite part of my position is developing children to become well rounded happy human beings, and watching them grow, learn, and be happy in our care. It is the best reward any Centre Director can get. Developing my team and working together to deliver not just quality childcare, but becoming a nurturing, loving team of professionals.
Q Do you have a message for your families and Imagine Childcare staff?
A: My message to staff would be a sincere thank you for all the years of support you have given me. Even through our tough times you were strong and resilient. Also thanks for your humour – it has made the job so much easier, when things were often hard to bear. My message to the parents, is my gratitude for allowing us into your lives and making us all feel like your family, not just an employee.
Q: What would your advice be for those starting out in the childcare industry?
A: See the challenge of early education as a career, not just a job, and become a part of a team that builds relationships and cares for the development of children and their families. If you’re in the industry today, my key words are flexibility and resilience. They are key tools, not only to help you in the day to day challenges, but long term as a professional childcare Educator.
Q: What are your plans for the future?
A: What can I say. Whilst I’m not fully retiring, I certainly plan to take it easy and focus on my family. Being a first time Grandmother is certainly a new challenge that I look forward to. Spending time travelling with my husband and maybe a course our two, are certainly on my new horizon.
We will miss Shirley as she semi-retires, however we know she will keep in contact. Thank you so much for all your hard work and dedication – you will always be part of our Imagine family.
To find out more about employment opportunities with Imagine Childcare, please visit our Employment page. To find your nearest Imagine Childcare centre, and to enquire about enrolment, please visit our Contact page.