The excited kindergartners skipped down the driveway alongside the Central Interceptor site. Every day they had passed the work site on the way to and from kindy. They had just been to look at the billboard photo of some of their kindy friends. The children remember the days that Karen and some of the Central Interceptor workers visited kindy and they told them so many interesting things about how the new tunnel would be made. Today, they even got to dress up in high viz jackets and hard hats just like the workers!
When Watercare’s Central Interceptor project arrived outside Blockhouse Bay Christian Kindergarten’s front entrance on Dundale Ave, the kindy team decided to turn an inconvenience into a learning opportunity. So, when the children asked questions, they were told that the council was working hard to make the waterways clean and that it was a ‘big job’.
Blockhouse Bay Christian Kindergarten opened its doors in 1996 under the leadership of the local community Church’s pastor’s wife Denise Reddell, a passionate and qualified ECE teacher.
She had firm beliefs that a kindergarten is not just ‘playing with blocks’ but about education and preparing children for school, and for life. And so Blockhouse Bay Christian Kindergarten began, with a staff of committed and professional ECE-trained teachers. This foundational philosophy continues today with a wonderful group of dedicated teachers.
In the 25 years since there has been very low staff turnover; just four kindy managers since Denise (all of whom are ECE trained): Carin Broadmore (now Kirkman), Antonia Hutchings, Marjorie Ross, and Cindy Watkins Barlow. Teacher Nancy O’Connor celebrates 20 years this year, and Antoinette Carvalho (soon to retire) 21 years!
The kindergarten was set up as a service to the community and, as a not-for-profit, all funds go back into the kindy. “We don’t try to compete with others in the sector operating under a business model”, says Board Chairman David Marshall. “Rather, we work our strengths with a focus on natural play and learning. Parents often comment on the friendliness at our kindy. The children are relaxed, and they sense the peace and stability here, so it’s those less ‘tangible’ things that are important too”.
Kindy Manager Cindy goes on to say, “Our philosophy is that we want our children to be ready for the world; to learn how to be friends, to become good citizens, to have respect for each other and the world. And we want our families to have a good experience here, to have confidence in leaving their children with us”. This high-quality education equips the children for the transition to school and later life.
The kindergarten has built good connections with the local schools. They have a transition to school program for the older children, and often get comments from schools about the children being relaxed and friendly, and ready for school.
Separated from the road by a stream, it’s easy to be unaware of the existence of this hidden gem of a kindy and, with the works at its entrance, it’s even less visible. But for those who cross the bridge to the spacious complex beyond, it’s truly worth the effort!