Pauline Whyte, from Grace Berglund Kindergarten (managed by YMCA Ballarat) was announced as the winner of the prestigious 2017 Staff Member of the Year! This award received 10 nominations from YMCAs across Australia from fields including Management, Children's Services, Youth Services and Finance.
The presentation of the award was made at the YMCA Australia AGM on Saturday 25th November, with YMCA Ballarat’s staff and we warmly congratulate Pauline on her achievement!
Pauline's nomination stood out to the selection committee not only because of her values and exemplary status as a kindergarten teacher, but due to her commitment to equality and desire to use events such as the Marriage Equality plebiscite to educate children about the world they live in and to celebrate the diversity of family structures.
Pauline has dedicated 35 years of her career to inspiring kindergarten children to become empowered, responsible and independent members of our society.
Pauline has shared of her win: "I feel very honoured and privileged. I love working for the YMCA as they share the same values and goals as myself… I value diversity, inclusion and above all equity for all and strive for excellence in pedagogy. I love going to work each day and trying to make a difference in the lives of the children, families, staff members and wider community that I work and live in."
Pauline continued; 'I have always worked with and demanded equality and high expectations for children and families with disability. Over the years I have become equally as passionate about equality and high expectations for children regardless of culture, gender and family diversity. At the beginning of the year I started a journey to ensure that all LGBTI people at our Kinder felt valued and welcome.
I have been determined to create a program and Kinder where girls and boys were given equal opportunities and encouragement and where staff, children and families felt safe and valued as part of the LGBTIQ community at kinder. I also wanted the children to be more aware of what opportunities are available out there in the world."
There are countless examples of this approach in the Kindergarten's program. This year, Pauline and her team organised an Art Show which involved local artists who held workshops at the Kinder and then taking the children on walks, bus and train rides to visit local Art Studios. The art work created by the children through these experiences was amazing and drew on many different mediums and people in the community.
YMCA Ballarat was also represented in the 'Inspired Young Person' and 'Volunteer of the Year' categories with the superb efforts of Jessy Malham and Olivia Clarke recognised.
Photo: YMCA Staff Member of the Year 2017, Pauline Whyte from Grace Berglund Kindergarten and Keryn Crebbin, YMCA Ballarat Board President.