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Tireless Early Childhood Worker Steps Down


After 30 years working in the early childhood sector, Jean Sims has retired from the Early Childhood position at Central Otago REAP.
During a farewell ceremony held recently Jean recounted memories from her early days working in the early childhood sector and said even though it had been 30 years of change and challenges, she wouldn’t change a thing.
“My REAP colleagues over the years are like a part of my family. It has been a privilege to do this work.”
Jean began her early childhood career in 1987 when she was employed by REAP as the Ida Valley – Manuherikia community pre-school worker. There were three other community preschool workers in the region, as well as two itinerant kindergarten teachers.
Jean said at that time many rural preschool children never saw inside an early childhood centre before going to school.
“Playcentres were the first early childhood centres in the smaller rural towns. For those not enrolled there, our job was to set up or support playgroups in community halls.”
Over the next 30 years, Jean has seen many changes, including REAP becoming “grown up” and able to contract directly with the Government.
In 1995 Jean was appointed as Early Childhood Educator to lead and support the team of REAP educators.
Jean’s team supported the establishment of several centres in the region, including Goldfields Educare, which was now a kindergarten, Teviot Valley Educare, Kindergartens at Hawea Flat and Ranfurly and in the scoping for Cromwell’s Barnardos Kidstart Early Learning Centre.
Jean said there were several events she had organised over the past 30 years which were memorable, including the first early childhood expo, the first Children’s Day picnic in Alexandra, three large parenting events with Diane Levy, Pio Terei and Nigel Latta and working on the Fostering Oral Language resource project – which was the early childhood team’s first foray into filming.
Jean’s parting thought is to keep the child in mind when making decisions, both in educational changes and in higher level policy decisions impacting on communities.
REAP manager Bernie Lepper thanked Jean for her tireless work over the past 30 years and said Jean will continue working at REAP as a career development facilitator.
Article written by Emma Maddox - Journalist


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Central Otago REAP · 14 - 20 Centennial Avenue · Alexandra, Central Otago 9320 · New Zealand

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