It is common for community-based centres to struggle due to resource issues but Phoenix Preschool in Ashburton has found a way through and sees only a positive future ahead.
Being presented with the My ECE Award for Excellence in front of early childhood services from across the country at the 2019 ChildForum national management summit in Auckland was not only a great honour according to Preschool manager Ange Ross, it was recognition of the personal investment everyone in the Phoenix whanau had in the preschool.
Phoenix originally started as a creche for the children of staff at Ashburton College. It has evolved over time to be a full-time service for 45 children of which up to 13 are under-twos.
It is governed by a Board of parent volunteers who are passionate about the preschool, support the team, and see the preschool as a valuable part of their community to maintain.
Critical to the preschool’s success today was the decision to employ an office manager, Hayley Gallagher, 5 days a week to ensure smooth running and splitting the manager’s role to allow Mrs Ross to be a team leader in the mornings in the over-twos room.
This has proven to be a successful model of management as Mrs Ross has time to build partnerships with families, children and staff and ensure a supportive and cohesive centre community.
Mrs Ross said: “The split of my role ensures I can still be with the children, supporting my team, and being very approachable to families, while also holding the management role.”
The centre’s philosophy emphasises relationships.
“We want everyone to feel like they are coming home when they come in the door. Our passionate and dedicated team of Kaiako work really hard every day to ensure each child and their family is made to feel that they belong. And, we are strong advocates for maintaining the sense of community and family that makes Phoenix what it is.”
Parents agree with Mrs Ross. The preschool has achieved 5 stars on Parent Reviews on My ECE (www.myece.org.nz). Comments posted by parents include:
- Phoenix isn't just a place to drop your child off so you can go to work, it is another family. The staff are so supportive to the child and to the parents. They listen if you have had a rough night with your child. The staff truly do care.
- The centre is governed by volunteer parents who all want the absolute best for the centre.
- We started at Phoenix Preschool after leaving another preschool in the area that was not a great fit for my son. I have been totally blown away by the staff and how much he has learnt by going to Phoenix.
- One of the things that makes Phoenix special is their community, with great activities through the year enabling us to meet families that we may have missed if our kids attend different days.
“I am so proud for our centre and I truly love my job.
"It is a most wonderful centre and I don’t see myself doing any other job,” Mrs Ross said with a sparkle in her eye as she collected the My ECE Award with Mrs Gallagher on behalf of Phoneix.
* The Award included a framed certificate for display, $300 for the preschool, a voucher for free staff training on injury prevention, a beautiful bouquet of flowers and box of chocolates.