Early Learning Centre (ELC) in the Weekly Review
Early Learning Centre (ELC) in the Weekly Review
23 May 2017
Kellie Morgan, the Director of Early Learning and Junior Years at Melbourne Girls Grammar, was recently profiled in The Weekly Review’s Talking Heads feature.
To view the original article by Melissa Heagney, click here.
Children have an innate curiosity, are eager to explore and understand the world and their place in it, and have a strong belief that they can make a difference. As educators, it is our role to nurture this belief.
Kellie Morgan, Melbourne Girls Grammar’s director of students for ELC and Junior Years, loved being a primary school student.
She loved her teachers. She loved the librarian who encouraged her to read – and gave her a lifelong passion for books – and she also loved the sense of being part of her school community.
Kellie loved primary school so much that even after she graduated and moved on to secondary school, she returned to volunteer at her beloved primary school at the foot of the Dandenong Ranges during her holidays.
“I did that right through my schooling because I loved interacting with the younger students and watching the way their teachers nurtured them,” Kellie says.
It’s this passion for early learning that Kellie has brought with her to Melbourne Girls Grammar, hoping to inspire children to love learning.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, she was at primary school herself when Kellie was inspired to become a teacher.
“[In Year 6], I was a house captain and part of that leadership role was the privilege of being able to go and help out in other classes and so I would help out in prep classes and I just loved it,” Kellie says.
“I would watch this brilliant prep teacher and think ‘I just really want to be like you.”
Kellie says it was also the students at her primary school who inspired her to follow her dream of becoming a teacher.
“Having the experience of spending time in that environment was wonderful,” she says.
It was the children who inspired me the most… the magic that happens when
children start to understand literacy concepts is just amazing.
Kellie now experiences that same magic at Melbourne Girls’ Grammar’s Morris Hall, where she works with staff and students from ELC to Year 4.
After a career working in ELCs and primary schools, Kellie joined Melbourne Girls Grammar in 2015, starting as the Director of Early Years before moving into her current role last year.
“I am so fortunate to have had a range of experiences in many different settings, but best of all, I was supported by some incredible educators,” Kellie says.
“As a young teacher, I had the opportunity to learn from Jan Millikan when she returned from her first trip to Reggio Emilia.”
She has taken these philosophies with her into Morris Hall which, like the Reggio Emilia approach, focuses on a student’s environment by using science, technology, engineering and mathematics as part of the early learning curriculum.
“In recent times, there’s been a real focus on STEM at Morris Hall. It is a priority and we focus on it; it’s an integral part of everything we do,” she says.
“We want the children to understand their environment and their place in it and so harnessing that is really exciting.”
Subjects such as mathematics and science are integrated into learning through activities such as the school’s kitchen garden.
“Our kitchen garden promotes wonder and awe, where girls get to focus on discovering and exploring and creating,” Kellie says.
Students can delve deeper into learning the science of the environment and sustainability through work in the garden and outdoors. They also get to become creative and problem solve with special projects using mathematics.
One is the Spikey Morris project, which Junior Years girls are working on.
“Spikey is our bearded dragon,” Kellie says. “Spikey’s enclosure is indoors but the girls think she should have time outside.
“They have researched and designed an outdoor enclosure for Spikey and raised funds for the building materials.
“The girls will consult with experts to help build Spikey’s new enclosure in time for our spring/summer,” Kellie says.
Students take a similar learning ethos with them into middle and senior years at Melbourne Girls Grammar. Part of Kellie’s role is to ensure students make a smooth transition to more senior schooling.
“Transition is a really important part of what we do here,” she says. “We really try to make sure the girls feel that sense of belonging to Morris Hall (and also to the senior school).
“Our Prep staff spend time in the ELC and the girls come over and spend time here at the Junior campus.”
Parents are included in the transition process, too. They are invited to social events at Morris Hall and whole-school activities.
“It’s really all about giving them ownership over their place at school and making them feel like they belong,” Kellie says.
It’s something Kellie is passionate about given her own wonderful experiences at primary school. “I loved every single thing,” she says. “I can’t remember a minute that I didn’t love primary school and I want our girls to have the same experiences here.”
three things I have learned
- Relationships are at the heart of all we do and quality relationships are vital for success. The girls, their parents and friends, our staff (even our neighbours) need to feel a sense of belonging.
- Little people are so capable. They are rich with wonder and we need to trust them, respect their ideas and encourage them to explore and discover. This way, they will grow up to believe they can make a dierence.
- Questions are the most powerful tool we have. We want our girls to be the ones coming up with questions, and then being creative and bravely discovering the answers.