WINTON Kindergarten head teacher Judy Brown has left a lasting legacy, estimating she had taught 500 children during her 17 years at the early learning centre.
“It’s been an absolute pleasure,” she said.
As it was the end of term, the parent group thought it was also timely to acknowledge Mrs Brown’s contribution at the kindy’s family tea get-together last month.
Winton Kindergarten parent group president Gemma Bradley said Mrs Brown would “definitely be missed”.
“I have known Judy more than 10 years. I have fond memories of my eldest boy when he was at the kindergarten, and my last one (of five) was here now.”
She described Mrs Brown’s passion for the early learning centre.
“Judy is very fiercely supportive of her kindy.
“She is passionate about our children… and her love for te reo as well, even before it was popular.”
Mrs Brown said it had been an amazing journey, which included three years of study, research in Italy and a paper on the importance of early education.
Mrs Brown graduated from the Dunedin College of Education, Southland Campus, with a Bachelor of Education (Teaching) in December 2000.
She then took on various teaching roles within the wider Southland Kindergarten Association, before taking on the head teacher role at Winton Kindergarten in October 2003.
Winton Kindergarten teacher Christina Vaughan added: “Judy had been privileged to attend two international conferences in Reggio Emilia, Italy, including the NZ Intensive Study Tour in October 2016 and three international conferences in Australia.
“Judy was a founding member of the Reggio Emilia Aotearoa New Zealand (REANZ) South committee, a regional network of Reggio Emilia Aotearoa New Zealand, whose purpose is support growth and understanding of the Reggio principles and practices across the Early Childhood and Primary sectors in the REANZ South region.”
Under Mrs Brown’s leadership, the kindergarten established a weekly nature programme in 2019, Taiao Tuhura, held at Ivy Russell Reserve; were finalists in the Prime Minister’s Education Excellence Awards 2019; Winners of the New Zealand Kindergartens Cultural Award 2019, and were a finalist in the Environment Southland Community Awards 2019, she said.
“Judy’s strong belief in the arts as a learning tool led to encouraging the learning community to partake in an array of arts opportunities, notably the Miharo Polyfest Art Awards and Kapa Haka on stage performances over the past 11 years, local flowers shows and community events.”
Winton Kindergarten teacher Antonia Murphy said she regarded Mrs Brown as a mentor and she inspired people to make teaching and learning purposeful and meaningful.
“I jumped at the opportunity to take on a permanent teaching position at Winton in October 2017, seeking to further my Reggio pedagogy (an academic discipline, is the study of how knowledge and skills are imparted in an educational context, and considers the interactions that take place during learning, reflecting different social, political, and cultural contexts) under her guidance.
“The language of the arts’ and the power of thoughtful pedagogy thanks to Judy’s commitment to understanding the whole child.”
As well as a farewell gift, Mrs Brown was presented with a video compilation of farewells from the tamariki (children).
Along with acknowledging the “wonderful and supportive community”, Mrs Brown said she loved the way the kindy teaching team had evolved the teaching to a New Zealand context, and was no longer a European-based one.