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Teaching graduate goes extra mile for degree, and job

Wednesday 19 December 2018 5:18pm

Bryce, Charlotte and Sara McVicar celebrate Sara's teaching and academic excellence awards, and the completion of her studies, at a pre-graduation event in Invercargill earlier this month.

There’s no doubt University of Otago College of Education graduand Sara McVicar went the extra mile to gain an early childhood education teaching degree.

Sara clocked up several thousand kilometres driving between Gore and Invercargill up to four times a week for three years to study at the College’s Southland campus, but says the drive was all part of chasing a long-held dream of being an early childhood education teacher.

Sara’s teaching degree will be conferred on 15 December, during the 1pm graduation ceremony at the Dunedin Town Hall.

“I got used to travelling to Invercargill pretty quickly and I knew when I enrolled for the course that it was a commitment I needed to make for three years. As I progressed through my training I could do more of the practical placements in Gore,” she says.

A placement at an early childhood education centre also led to an offer of full-time work – before she had even graduated. The good news is the centre – Hope Preschool – is in Mataura, so Sara’s commute will be much shorter.

“I was very lucky that a job opportunity came up for me before I had even finished my course. I knew that this was where I wanted to work so I applied for the job and they held the position for me until I completed my studies. I finished studying on the Friday and started my job the following Monday!”

Sara had worked as a nanny and home-based care provider for five years “alongside being a mum”. However, a teaching degree appealed because she wanted to move to centre-based teaching.

“I could see getting a teaching degree would create more career opportunities for me and hopefully long-term job security.”

Her academic achievements, and efforts on placement in classrooms were recognised with Academic Excellence (in early childhood education) and Teaching Practice Excellence Awards from the College.

Sara says small class sizes at the Southland campus meant there were always many opportunities to ask questions and clarify information.

She encourages young people thinking of studying early childhood education to just “go for it”.

“You will learn so much valuable information you will aspire to learn more – this made studying a lot easier because I loved acquiring such useful knowledge.

She enjoys the variety that comes with early childhood teaching, and the children’s unique worldview.

“Aside from being so much fun, children look at the world quite differently to us – they are accepting of diversity and are naturally inquisitive about the world around them. Also, every day I get to work alongside children and their whanau to plan a curriculum that builds on each child’s knowledge, strength and interests. I get great satisfaction from seeing children develop over time and I understand the importance of the early years on all areas of a child’s development. It is a privilege to be part of that!”