Director for all those years, Fiona Wissink is justifiably proud of the Centre’s growth and development. Its original aim, to be a starting point for parents in St Patrick’s Parish and the wider community who struggled to find childcare placements when they returned to the workforce, has been well and truly achieved.
‘Original’ parent, Leanne O’Brien, who attended the birthday celebrations, highlighted the partnership with the nearby St Catherine’s Catholic College. “Not only is St Patrick’s linked to our parish community, it offers a natural transition to school life at St Catherine’s. Not too many schools have this opportunity to provide a shared experience of transition to ‘big school’ support for students as they move into kindergarten and the chance to visit one another.”
Director Fiona told those who gathered to share the celebration, “Over the last ten years I have had the pleasure of working with more than 100 staff members. I have watched staff learn and grow as educators and have had the pleasure of seeing them complete their qualifications – traineeships, diplomas, degrees.
“I have also had the opportunity to meet hundreds of parents and to join in their children’s journeys, watching them progress and achieve significant milestones. I thank the families for entrusting me and my staff with the care of their children. I still have the pleasure of seeing many of these children over at St Catherine’s as they continue to grow into young men and women.”
One of those young women is Annie O’Brien of Year 4 at St Catherine’s. Annie accompanied her mother to the event and shared her memories. “My Mum brought me here to St Patrick’s when I was five months old. I came two days a week while Mum was teaching at St Catherine’s. I started in the Angels' room and I liked my time here. When I was a baby I loved the sandpit. I remember riding the tricycles around the track and walking the plank. I remember playing with my friends. Many of them go to school with me still. My time here was fun. I always remember it with happiness.”
The environment of St Patrick’s has developed over the years and the most recent improvement has been landscaping to enhance the outdoor play areas. In 2005 the centre began with 12 staff, three rooms and 46 children. Today there are 25 staff, five rooms and 80 children.
As the community of St Patrick’s celebrates ten happy years, it looks back with pride and forward with confidence.