Early Childhood graduate, Melissa Togher working in a preschool classroom

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Education grad at work: Doing what you love in Early Childhood teaching

28 August 2020
Meet 2019 Early Childhood graduate, Melissa Togher
Melissa was initially a little unsure what she wanted to study. Discovering the importance of Early Childhood teaching quickly led to a passion she followed at uni. It was the right call: she describes it now as one of her "most rewarding experiences".

Why did you choose to study Early Childhood teaching? And why the University of Sydney?

It took me a while to decide what career I wanted to pursue.

After thinking, and overthinking, one afternoon chat with a friend really sold it for me – I was going to study a Bachelor of Education (Early Childhood) and become an Early Childhood Teacher.

I have always wanted to make a difference in the lives of young people, and after a little bit of research, finding that early childhood is, by far, the most developmentally important stage of a person’s life made my path clear.

While researching where I was going to study, no option compared to USYD. The highly qualified staff, their passion for advocacy and research, and the well-supported program convinced me that USYD was the place for me.
Melissa Togher, Early Childhood graduate

I never doubted my decision at all, loving every semester I spent there. I was a little nervous when starting, wondering how it would all pan out, but it really was the place for me.

What were your tutors like during your course?

Incredible! The Early Childhood Education team’s passion, knowledge, and commitment surpassed all expectations.

Their experience covers such a wide base, and their willingness to share, research and continue in their own education is inspiring. I was lucky enough to complete my Honours thesis whilst studying, and the support from my supervisor, as well as my tutors, was central to my success.

I cannot express how grateful I am for the professionalism and expertise of the Early Childhood Education team at USYD.

What’s happened since graduation? How did you get your current role?

For my final placement, I was assigned a preschool run by a large not-for-profit organisation. I absolutely loved it, and was lucky enough to be given a position as a casual for the company at the conclusion of my practicum.

Following graduation, I was a little unsure of what opportunities would come up, and how best to navigate the world of employment. Thankfully, my experiences at USYD made it a whole lot easier.
Melissa Togher, Early Childhood graduate

After a month as a casual, I was able to network across enough centres, and was offered a role in a specialist service, an autism specific long day care centre. I feel so privileged to have moved into a dream role in such a short period of time!

What does a day in the life of a preschool teacher look like?

No day is the same – one of my favourite parts of the role! I absolutely love not knowing what to expect from the day.

In saying that, there are a few parts of my day that remain somewhat consistent.

I know that I’ll be working with families, creating strong partnerships as we trust and value each other’s contributions and perspectives on the children, working together to create positive learning environments for every child.

I know that each day I will be lucky enough to engage children in play based on their interests, following each child’s curiosities and strengths, and creating an environment that allow them to learn and succeed.
Melissa Togher, Early Childhood graduate

I know that I’ll be working as part of an early childhood education team, valuing each other’s professional knowledge and cultural perspectives, as we engage in continuous reflection and progress as a team.

How do you use your degree in your work as a teacher?

During my time at USYD, we were not simply given the answers we needed to pass an exam. We were supported to develop our own pedagogy, our own teaching practices, and our own approaches, rather than act out someone else’s.

This allowed me to walk into the classroom with confidence, feeling self-assured that I had the capacity to be a good teacher in my own right, rather than rely on my ability to imitate another.

What would you say to a student considering an Education degree?

Go for it!

Studying Education at USYD has been one of the most rewarding experiences, and I’m so glad I took the plunge. If you’re having doubts, continue your research! The Education website has a wealth of information to answer some of your questions.

Alternatively, get in contact with USYD and have your specific questions answered. These interactions will make clear the support available at USYD, the professionalism of the staff, and the quality of the education you’ll receive when enrolled.

Thinking of studying teaching?

We offer a wide range of Education degrees at both the undergraduate and postgraduate level. Explore your options, click here.

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