President Alannah Dore
Master of Early Childhood (Macquarie University); Graduate Certificate Education Tertiary Teaching (Federation University); Bachelor of Education (Melbourne State College); Diploma of Teaching (Institute of Early Childhood Development)
Alannah’s professional background includes preschool teaching in rural and urban settings, professional development (PD) for teachers; preschool to secondary, TAFE teaching for trainee Parent Facilitators, Certification for pre-service early childhood educators, co-facilitator for Aboriginal childcare studies in Wodonga, inclusion support for KU Children’s Services, casual consultant to FKA multicultural resource centre, a lecturer at Federation University and two decades operating a personal development business with a focus on holistic wellbeing. Alannah is also a trained family therapist and counsellor with additional certification in developmental psychiatry.
Alannah was a recipient of an AGECS Fellowship for Leadership and Change grant in 2016 creating two videos designed for Assistant Educators who reported experiencing limited opportunities for Professional Development (PD) despite often spending the most time with the children. Designed to promote early stages of cultural competence, two short informative, enjoyable, easy to access, videos were created. Aimed to inform directly through transmission of information with interviews, original music and visuals were also used to subliminally promote the viewer’s emotional engagement with cultural inclusion concepts.
Cultural inclusion is one aspect of the heart of Alannah’s work which centres on promoting family wellbeing in innovative ways. She currently enjoys researching the link between teacher/educator wellbeing and the families they support. While vice-president of AGECS Alannah also actively encourages rural PD opportunities and self determination projects promoting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives in early childhood.
Vice President Dorothy Connop
MEd, Grad Dip Special Ed, Grad Dip Ed. Admin, Grad Dip Movement and Dance, Grad. Dip Special Ed. (Visual Impairment), Bachelor of Early Childhood, Diploma Teaching Early Childhood
Dorothy initially trained as a Kindergarten Teacher at the Institute of Early Childhood Development in Victoria. After completing her B. Ed, working in Kindergartens and Long Day Care Centres, Dorothy moved to Special Education working in Day Training Centres, before being appointed as Supervisor of the Broad Insight Group, an Early Intervention Programme in Broadmeadows. Dorothy has also worked for the Royal Victorian Institute for the Blind (now Vision Australia), as a Home Advisor and the Royal National Institute for the Blind (in the UK), as Deputy Head Teacher and then Acting Head Teacher of a specialist school, prior to returning to Australia.
Dorothy then worked at Holmesglen TAFE as a teacher on the Diploma of Children’s Services and Certificate III in Child Care courses. Following this, she returned to mainstream education and worked as a Literacy Support Teacher and then as a Reading Recovery Teacher in Primary Schools. For the past 7 years Dorothy has worked in the Nationwide Inclusion Support Programme as an Inclusion Professional.
Dorothy has completed a Masters Degree and 4 Post Graduate Diplomas, two of which are in Special Education.
Honourary Treasurer Avril McHugh - AGECS Director
Diploma of Teaching (Melbourne Kindergarten Teachers College)
After graduation Avril’s first kindergarten was at Lalor in the Shire of Whittlesea. It was a new kindergarten in a new housing development. She taught there for five years before moving to Bendigo where she taught at the Maldon Preschool. After a break to have children, Avril did some emergency relief teaching in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne. With her family she then moved to North –West Tasmania, where she worked for the Tasmania Education Department. Initially she worked as a kindergarten teacher at Moriarty Primary School and then in a literacy recovery program at the Ulverstone Primary School.
Upon returning to Melbourne Avril taught a three year old Group at Vista Valley Pre-school, Bulleen. In 1997 she accepted a position at Yarralea Children’s Centre teaching the three year old group and today she is still happily working there. During her time at Yarralea she taught with some wonderful directors. At Yarralea, Avril worked under the Educational Charter: Story- Spring board for Learning, Literacy and Life. Under this governance, she greatly expanded her knowledge and teaching experience.
In 2015 Avril retired from Yarralea Children’s Centre and did relief teaching there until 2020. Avril is now fully retired but continues her interest in Early Childhood Education by being on The AGECS Council.
Assistant Honorary Treasurer Sophia Patitsas - AGECS Director
Diploma of Teaching (Early Childhood), Graduate Diploma Special Education, Master of Education (University of Melbourne), Certificate IV in Assessment and Training, Recipient Women and Leadership Australia Executive Ready Program.
As a seasoned early childhood teacher, Sophia taught in several kindergartens in the West before joining as an Early Intervention Teacher at Uncle Bob’s Child Development Centre, Royal Children’s Hospital.
Teaching in the various settings allowed for Sophia to be granted a Scholarship for 10 months, exploring Early Intervention using the Medical Model in Greece.
Other roles Sophia has undertaken include working as Community Development Officer for a Communities for Children project, Statewide Early Childhood Consultant at Playworks, After School Care Coordinator, Family Day Care Field Worker and Preschool Field Officer.
Sophia is currently working as Early Years Coordinator which is giving her the opportunity to work with Teams, and guide the process of Social Policy Reform by the funding of 3 year olds in kindergartens within the municipality of Moreland.
Honourary Secretary Tess Brooks
Master of Education (Special Education) (Deakin University); Graduate Diploma in Special Education (Intellectual Disability) (Deakin University); Diploma of Teaching (Institute of Early Childhood Development)
Tess graduated from the Institute of Early Childhood Development (now University of Melbourne) as Therese Glenister in 1982 where, in her final year, she had represented students on the Academic Board and joined the Kindergarten Teachers Association of Victoria (KTAV) at this time. After working as Director of Mossfiel Preschool in Hoppers Crossing after graduating, in 1985, Tess took the opportunity to join a newly established early intervention program in the Inner East region, STRIDE Forward program as a teacher for children aged 18months – 6 years experiencing developmental delay or disability.
During this time Tess commenced a Graduate Diploma in Special Education (Intellectual Disability) at Deakin University (conferred May 1993) and enjoyed working with local Manningham colleagues in planning educator conferences, and also became involved with KTAV on the publications team for ‘Ianua’.
Tess began a Masters Education (Special Education) at Deakin University focusing on what was, at the time, a relatively new term “Asperger Syndrome” and the debate about whether it was the same as or differentiated from high functioning autism. Her thesis focused on how assessment and diagnosis was occurring at the time, beliefs about differential diagnosis, and what information was being shared with families to assist them in understanding and supporting their child’s needs. Responses demonstrated much variation in what tools were being used for diagnosis at the time, and the limited information readily available to parents.
In 1995 Tess worked with one of the first Victoria families to import the Lovaas program from the USA and was trained in ABA therapy by an accredited trainer alongside family members. She worked with the family to modify the program in regard to minimising the harshness of the instruction style, and maximising the familiarity of those working with the child.
Choosing to work part time during the time her children’s early years, Tess was able to commit energy at a Committee and Board level with educational administration and parent engagement between 1995 and 2006. Tess was involved in projects such as the ‘Just Imagine’ (a gifted and talented program utilising the skills of parents and community members) “Think World” (a project embedding philosophy for children in the Year 3/4 curriculum) and establishing community International Women’s Day events. Tess also undertook integration aide work at Roberts McCubbin and Kew Primary schools – utilising her skills in individualised support, and also relief work at a number of Primary schools as a registered Primary Teacher between 2003 and 2006. In 2005 she received a Caroline Chisholm Volunteer Award presented by Anna Burke MP, nominated by the Robert McCubbin School.
From 2006 to 2008 Tess was employed by a Primary School, as a specialist early childhood educator, to transition a child from a home-based program to school.
In late 2008 Tess joined the City of Boroondara as a Preschool Field Officer, where she is now in her tenth year. She also contributes to the Council internal Indigenous working group and is currently on the Victorian Preschool Field Officers Executive.
Tess maintains her broader interest in education through her role as Chair of the Learning & Wellbeing Committee on the Kingswood College Council, and work with university students via University of Melbourne Alumni programs.
She is engaged in her local community through social justice activities associated with the Uniting Church (including organising a series of annual Stand Up & Take Action Concerts raising awareness of the UN MDG goals and raising funds for local, national and international projects supporting increased access to supports and self-determination for the past 9 years), with IMPACT for Women (a not-for profit group supporting women and children fleeing domestic violence), is a keen supporter of athletics, an avid reader of mainly fiction novels, and enjoys music, theatre and travelling.
Past President Maree Wiggins
Bachelor of Education (La Trobe University); Diploma in Special Education (Melbourne State College); Diploma of Teaching (Melbourne Kindergarten Teachers College)
Maree’s first teaching position was in Dunkeld in 1979 then on to St Josephs Kindergarten Fitzroy from 1980 -1992. St Josephs’ ran an extended hour’s program working closely with family services, protective services, Aboriginal community and refugees.
At this time Maree worked as a research assistant with the Education Department on a longitudinal study following secondary school leavers from two Frankston Secondary colleges. Ex-students were interviewed about their current positions of employment or study.
Maree underwent further studies specialising in Social Emotional Development in Early Childhood and graduated with a Diploma in Special Education from Melbourne State College. Maree strongly believes that to be an effective educator of children, training in early childhood development and special education are a good union and provide excellent teaching strategies to support children’s growth.
Maree completed her Bachelor of Education at La Trobe University, studying theories of girls/women in Education and social emotional development. Maree followed on from here in 1987 to do research coursework at La Trobe on ‘The role of Teacher Intervention on Children’s Resolutions’.
Maree then worked as a kindergarten teacher at Yappera Thornbury from 1993 – 97. Maree met so many beautiful families and her respect for the Aboriginal community was nurtured by listening and learning to their stories. Maree is eternally grateful for this unique opportunity.
In 1996, Maree worked part time as a research assistant at La Trobe University on an Intergenerational Literacy study.
In 1997, Maree began working as a Preschool Field Officer. In this role she sought to strengthen the child’s place in their community, resourcing Kindergarten Teachers to promote their relationships with the children, their families and the community. Maree established strong rapport with families so that they could make the demands to access the services and resources that would assist their child’s participation in the community.
Maree enjoys networking and building bridges between services to better support families and children.
Now retired, Maree plays lawn bowls, goes for long walks and reads.
General Member Sue Emmett
Dr Sue Emmett has been extensively involved in early childhood education and the translation of research into the practical environment for over thirty years. Her professional experience includes early childhood teaching in a range of settings, work as an early childhood educational consultant and teaching and researching within TAFE and Higher Education sectors.
Sue is currently working as Senior Lecturer in Education at Federation University Australia where she coordinates and teaches in Bachelor of Education in Early Childhood Programs and manages partnerships with external organisations both in rural Australian and international contexts.
Prior to this, Sue worked as a Research Fellow within the School of Social and Policy Research at Charles Darwin University where early childhood literacy was central to her research, particularly in relation to rural and remote indigenous education.
Her research interests also include the well-being of children and educators including trauma informed practice in early childhood contexts. Sue has recently published journal articles, reports and a book chapter in these areas. She completed her PhD in 2011 entitled ‘Preparing Professional Caregivers as Young Children’s Attachment Partners: A longitudinal study of a new Australian pre-service program’ which centred upon relationship focused theory and practice in early childhood contexts as well as learning and teaching at tertiary level.
General Member Wendy Grenfell (AUDAX Editor)
Wendy Grenfell completed the Diploma in Early Childhood Development at the Institute of Early Childhood Development (IECD) from 1974 -1976. She completed the Bachelor of Special Education at Monash University in 1986.
Wendy has worked extensively in Victorian local government, as an EC Teacher for the City of Keilor, for the City of Knox in sessional kindergartens, and for the city of Boroondara as a PSFO.
Over time, Wendy has also worked as a Toddler group Teacher, Playgroup Field Officer, Preschool Field Officer, Validation Officer, Early Intervention Teacher and Kindergarten Team Leader.
While overseas, Wendy worked for the University of New Brunswick as an Early Years facilitator supporting families of children with additional needs.
Wendy has volunteered with the Knox Kindergarten Teachers Association (6 years), PSFO Association (9 years) and currently with AGECS (10 years).
Wendy is presently working part time as a Team Leader in Integrated Kindergartens.
General Member Nichola Marriott
Master of Education (Early Childhood),, Diploma of Teaching (Early Childhood)
Early childhood has afforded Nichola with the opportunity to work in a variety of settings, from an international school in Singapore to a remote Aboriginal community in the Kimberleys. She has taught in rural settings and in suburban Melbourne. Nichola has been a PSFO in City of Casey and City of Yarra as well as working for Yooralla in the KIS programme. She is currently the Pedagogical Leader for Children’s Services in City of Yarra, a job she enjoys as she gets to talk about her early childhood passions of inclusion and inclusive environments and the importance of providing a high quality programme to increase the positive outcomes for children and families.
General Member Sandra McCarthy-Wilson
General Member Sarah O'Donnell
After graduating from Melbourne University, Sarah spent a year living and teaching in London before settling into the city of Knox as a preschool teacher. Since this initial teaching role, Sarah has worked as a PSFO coordinator, been Team Leader of Specialist Children’s Service for the Department of Education and overseen the build and establishment of an integrated children’s service which included early learning programs, MCH, and a toy library. For the last few years Sarah has worked in senior leadership positions managing Children’s Services Clusters and managing the trial of the Short Term Kindergarten Inclusion Support Program. Currently Sarah works at Uniting part time while establishing her own business Empowered Living working with Educators and families to reduce their stress as a Certified EFT (Tapping) Practitioner and meditation teacher.
General Member Gillian Shelley
Events Coordinator Alex Heard
Melbourne. Alex also worked as a casual relief teacher around inner city and western Melbourne part me for one year, which was an invaluable
resource for reflecve pracce. She currently works as a teacher at Fawkner Kindergarten.
In 2017, Alex became a member of the Moreland Early Years Network where she volunteers with other teachers to organise an annual conference
for early childhood professionals in the area.
Administration Officer Liz Potter
Behind the Scenes
Behind the scenes here at AGECS there are a number of very busy volunteers keeping abreast of the best ways to support early childhood and to add value to becoming a member.
As a member there are opportunities to join our Council, or to volunteer to help organise events or institute programs. If you have any suggestions or ideas on how the Association can serve you or the field of ECEC better, please either email us directly or comment on one of our community media. Alternatively as a member, you are invited to attend Council Meeetings and the AGM and talk to any current Council members directly.
The Council meets quarterly. As well as addressing official business, discussion surrounds what programs and events the Association can become involved in or organise. The best way we can institute this is to hear from you. What are your greatest needs at study, at work, or at play with children?