Inspired by her mother and grandmother who both worked with young children, Alana Bird has always been interested in working in early childhood education.
“I guess it must run in the family! Having much younger brothers also influenced my decision as I had the opportunity to observe and nurture their growth and learning.”
Being able to stay close to her family and friends was the initial reason for choosing the Southland Campus, but she soon found many more benefits.
“It quickly became clear that I’d made the best decision. The lecturers were so passionate that they ignited my own passion and motivated me to be an advocate for early childhood education.
“The programme was a perfect combination of theory and practical – it allowed me to put my new knowledge and understanding into practice. I gained an in-depth understanding of how valuable the early years are towards a child’s life-long journey of learning and how important my role as a teacher is in supporting this."
The skills Alana gained from her time studying early childhood education went beyond professional development.
“I went through a huge personal growth in my time studying and came out the end as a more confident and capable person. You learn a lot about your own personal values and are able to critically analyse your own thinking and beliefs.
“I also gained another family, our class became very close as we were always encouraged to share our thoughts, feelings and ideas with each other and work collaboratively.”
Alana now works in a small, privately owned early learning centre in Northland, a move she wouldn’t have made without the confidence she gained at the University of Otago College of Education.
“I thank the lecturers at Southland Campus for encouraging me seek out a centre that would best support me and compliment my teaching philosophy. The teaching team I work with now share similar beliefs and values about young children’s education and I am very excited to be continuing my teaching journey with them.”
“I would definitely (and have in the past) encourage people considering a career in teaching to study through the Southland campus. If you are passionate about teaching, I say go for it! It’s just such an amazing feeling knowing that I am contributing to children’s learning!”