Passionate about early childhood education, the knowledge, expertise, and irrepressible enthusiasm that ACG Tauranga Preschool Manager, Raechel Thompson shares with her students is unmistakable. Supported by her wealth of teaching and leadership experience, she believes that helping her young charges take the first steps on their educational journey is both a privilege and a joy.
“After initially training as a nanny when I left school, I began working in a preschool and then joined a playcentre when we had our family,” says Raechel. “When we moved to Tauranga from rural King Country, I returned to study and earned my Diploma of Teaching & Learning, which I extended to a Batchelor of Teaching, while still working part-time. I have currently been teaching in Tauranga for over 13 years and the leadership opportunities and skills I developed during this period have led me to where I am now. I just love it.”
As an early childhood specialist, Raechel firmly believes in the importance and advantages of effectual preschool programmes for our youngest learners.
“By the time our children leave their early childhood education to go to primary school, we want them to have a positive image of themselves as learners. We encourage interactions that advance each child’s curiosity, eagerness to learn and their desire to find solutions for themselves.”
“The rich experiences we provide in our Preschool and in our wider community help our children become successful learners, developing persistence, precision, creativity and problem-solving abilities while remaining open to continuous learning and experimentation,” she adds.
ACG Tauranga Preschool promotes an inquiry and play-based learning environment which has been carefully designed to capture a child’s imagination, interests, and sense of wonder. This investigative approach allows our youngest students to grow their abilities in both an academic context and in that of the wider world.
“All the current research shows that a play-based learning approach has the best outcomes for children in early childhood,” Raechel explains. “Our early childhood curriculum, Te Whariki, supports this beautifully. Weaving mathematics, numeracy and literacy into an inquiry-based programme empowers children as they make choices based on their interests and passions.”
The rewards of working with children are many for Raechel who fosters strong relationships with her team, her students, their parents and caregivers to achieve the highest possible learning outcomes for the youngsters under her care.
“For me, it’s all about relationships, relationships, relationships! Building strong, reciprocal relationships with our families and whanau is so important. They hold the knowledge about their child and working together enables us to plan, implement and personalise each child’s individual learning to best suit their needs.”
“The relationship we have as a teaching team is also vital. We show our students the deep respect we have for one another, and thereby create a community of support and learning among ourselves, our children and their families and whanau.”
Raechel is constantly amazed and delighted by the surprises each day brings.
“You never know what may spark a child’s imagination and where it will take them and the other children. It is such a privilege to be a part of their learning journey.”
Described by friends and colleagues as passionate, caring, dedicated, creative and a little bit of a perfectionist, Raechel ‘s love of the outdoors sees her tramping, bush walking and working in her spectacular vegetable garden. However, in quieter moments she adores spending time with her husband, children (Max, 21 and Molly, 16), and dog Dougal, and can frequently be found amongst her close-knit family, especially her parents who have inspired her to become the person she is today.
And when asked what we can expect to see from her for the remainder of the year, Raechel simply replies, “I’m looking forward to supporting the teachers in our Preschool team as they take on additional leadership roles, to continuing to build our Pathways to School programme, and to ensuring our children move from strength to strength as happy, secure and confident learners who love coming to Preschool each day.”