Meet Our Educators
    • Nicole Gajenski

      Nicole Gajenski


      Nicole has just started in the Early Learners Room, she works Mondays and Fridays.

      Educator Bio coming soon…

    • Karen Murnane

      Karen Murnane


      Hello my name is Karen Murnane and I have been at JEEC for 17 years. I have worked in the Early Childhood industry for 19 years. I started at JEEC when the Early Development room opened in March 1997. I completed my Associate Diploma in Child Studies at TAFE in 1997 and in 2000 I began studying my Bachelor of Teaching Early Childhood by Correspondence through the University of New England while working Full Time at JEEC. I completed my University degree in 2003. I then became the Early Childhood teacher at JEEC.

      I became the Director at JEEC in June 2010 and this was one of my biggest achievements in the Early Childhood Field. My second biggest achievement was that some of the staff at JEEC entered me in the “Family Early Education & Care Award:-Category: Early Childhood Director of the Year. There was 15 Directors in the short list and then I made it to the next round “2012 Finalist”. There was only 5 Director’s chosen in this category. Unfortunately I was not the state winner. Maybe next time. However it was a big achievement. Thank you to my wonderful staff.

      I have worked in all 3 rooms over the years. I enjoy working in each of the rooms for different reasons.

      • Early Development: I enjoy forming a partnership with all the new families and forming a close bond with the children.
      • Early Learners: I really love working with this age group as they are becoming more independence, “their own person-individual personality”, inquisitive, beginning to communicate and becoming more involved in a variety of activities.
      • Pre-School: School preparation for both children’s and families, assisting the children with socialisation with other peers and adults-verbal and non verbal communication. This is so essential when they start Kindergarten. Providing many challenging activities to cater for their individual interests.

      My main passions working at JEEC is assisting the families and children with a undiagnosed/diagnosed disabilities, Children and families from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds, Indigenous background families and children and families with a refugee background.

      I look forward to seeing you around the centre and getting to know more about your family.

      At Jesmond Early Education Centre we believe it’s important for families to get get to know the educators and their personal philosophies on caring for the children. Click on the staff name to get to know them better.

    • Heidi Nelson
      Teacher, Room Leader, 2IC

      Heidi Nelson

      Teacher, Room Leader, 2IC

      My name is Heidi Nelson; I am married with 2 children a 18 year old boy and an 14 year old girl. I have worked at JEEC for 17 years and have been in the Early Childhood sector for 23 years. I have recently completed my Bachelor in Early Childhood through the University of New England and I’m very excited about my recent accomplishment. I am currently working as Room leader in the Preschool Room Monday-Friday and I am the 2IC, Tuesday- Thursday.

      What do I believe in? I believe there is nothing more precious in our lives then our children, and nothing more rewarding then watching them grow and develop through their Early years and then being prepared and ready to go off to kindergarten. Another rewarding part of my role as an Early Childhood Educator that cares for your child is the wonderful relationships that are formed with you “the family”.

    • Kim Maquire
      Room Leader and Educator

      Kim Maquire

      Room Leader and Educator

      My name is Kim Maguire I’m currently the Room Leader and Educator in the Pre School Room in 2015. I am also the 2IC (Second in Charge) on a Monday and Friday. This is a shared role with Heidi. I have worked at JEEC since 2004 Full Time. During this time I have had the opportunity to work with children of all ages from 0-5 years, therefore in each of the rooms at the centre. I continue to learn and be inspired in my role, and have had, and continue to work with many great educators that bring with them a lot of experience in working with children.

      My Personal Philosophy

      • I believe that each child is a unique individual, and that all children develop through their own pattern of growth and development.
      • I believe that supporting children’s self confidence and self esteem is important in reaching developmental milestones for children
      • I believe in providing a quality curriculum and environment where children are encouraged to learn, create, imagine, discover, problem solve and play
      • I believe that inclusion and cultural understanding is an important part of the curriculum and learning
      • I believe that family involvement is an important part of the curriculum, and as such families are well informed and welcomed participates in all activities at the centre
      • I believe that ongoing communication with families is necessary to continue to meet the needs of children in our care
    • Kim Moy
      Centre Cook

      Kim Moy

      Centre Cook

      My name Kim And I have just joined JEEC as Centre Cook, working Wednesday and Thursday each week. Already I am finding it an enjoyable role as I enjoy cooking and interacting with the children, I’m loving it when they come up to say hello each day and have a little chat. I live on a rural property with my husband and 2 teenage daughters. We love the way of life on the farm and are lucky enough to have a few chickens ,cows and sheep on our property. I have worked in catering for many years and for 4 years and was the Canteen manager at my childrens primary school, a role which I enjoyed and where I became used to cooking for a variety of tastes and dietary requirements. I look forward to meeting both you and your child as I go about my day at the centre.

    • Leah Mitchell
      Centre Cook, Educator

      Leah Mitchell

      Centre Cook, Educator

      My name Is Leah and I have been the Centre Cook for the past 4 years. Prior to joining JEEC i was Canteen Manager at my childrens primary school for 6yrs where I completed my Canteen Management Certificate and during this time and also studied Part-Time at TAFE doing a Patisserie & Restaurant Desserts Course which helped expand on my love of cooking.
      In 2012 I again Studied at Tafe – Cookery In Childrens Services – which covered areas such as Childrens Nutrition,Dietary Requirements, Cultural Foods & Workplace Hygiene.

      I have a lot of experience preparing meals for children with special dietary requirements as I feel it’s most important where possible to make them their “version” of the dish that the other children are eating as this helps them to feel included and not miss out on things due to their special requirements.It is my belief that food should not only be nutritious & tasty but also fun for children so that meals times become a positive experience and that they learn the benefits of healthy eating to carry with them into adulthood.

      In early 2013 I also went on to complete my Childcare Certificate III so that I could also work in the rooms with the children which is something I very much enjoy. Having a mix of both Cooking and Childcare work at the centre has turned out to be a lovely balance and I look forward spending time with the children on the days I help in the rooms.

    • Maureen Fuller

      Maureen Fuller


      Hi I’m Maureen. I’m currently working in the Early Development Room working as the Room Leader. In 2015 I reached 10 years of service at Jesmond Early Education Centre. I hold a Diploma in Children’s Services. I believe Early Childhood must meet the needs of individual families. I recognise and value the uniqueness of all children. I believe the children of today must be raised with strong values and respect for themselves and others. I believe children learn more when engaged in experiences that interest them, in a warm and welcoming environment made rich by “Hands on”, play based learning opportunities.

    • Rochelle Hesketh

      Rochelle Hesketh


      My name is Rochelle. I am Diploma trained.

      I have been working at JEEC since 2009.

      This year I have been working in the Babies Room. Which has definitely been my favourite age group.

      I believe the first 6 years of a child’s life is crucial, the time for self-discovery. Working in this environment allows us as educators to experience this first hand and assist the children to explore their emerging interests, talents, skills and understand the world they live in, in a fun and effective way.

      Creativity would be my personal strength in Childcare, looking for new ways to change the environment. Being open to try new ideas and providing new experiences that the children can respond to.

      A bit about myself: I come from a big family, I live with my partner Ashley, In my free time I love to cook sweets, visit my dog Sam, watch live music and travel. I am almost always planning my next holiday, as travelling is a big passion of mine. Next on the list is South America!

    • Sophal Sou

      Sophal Sou


      Hi my name is Sophal Sou and I have worked at JEEC for almost 30 years. I began working here when the centre first opened in 1984. Last year I completed my Certificate III in Children’s Services something I am very proud of. I really enjoy my job especially being so hands on with the children playing and educating them. I believe children learn best in a supporting and engaging environment. I enjoy sharing my home culture with the children and enjoy learning about theirs. I often share my talent in cooking in both small and large groups. Over the years I have built long lasting relationships with the families at the centre and find this very satisfying.

    • Sue Cowling

      Sue Cowling


      My name is Sue Cowling and I love being part of the team at Jesmond Early Education Centre. I have a passion for educating and nurturing children which is the reason I have worked in children care for the past 5 years. I am an employee at Jesmond Early Education Centre as a diploma trained, full time team member and work 5 days a week in the preschool room.

      I am passionate about my career in childcare and feel I provide an education, fun, compassionate and empathetic environment for the children at the service where the children learn and play. I believe in following the curriculum “Belonging, Being and Becoming” which forms the Early Years Learning Framework as well as following the 7 National Quality Standards.

      I believe the first 5 years in a child’s life is critical to learning and that children need to feel that they belong. Children should feel safe, secure and respected. As a childcare worker I guide children in their social wellbeing as well as their emotional and physical wellbeing. Children develop a range of skills whilst being happy and inviting environment with adults and peers who accept the “whole” Child as unique individual. I believe all children are unique and should be all treated equal.

      It is important to communicate with families to gain knowledgeable information about their child’s/children’s interest, family life, beliefs, culture and tradition. Each child and their family shoud be respected, embraced and involved as it is important to a child’s overall development. I support children’s development and ongoing learning.

    • Vanessa Gledhill

      Vanessa Gledhill


      Hi my name is Vanessa. I was a trainee for 2015 at JEEC and am now working full time in the Early Learners Room as I study my diploma.

      My interests outside of work are netball, hanging with friends, animals and travelling.

      I love watching the children grow and interacting with all of them. My goal is to have a successful career in childcare.

    • Catherine Halvorsen

      Catherine Halvorsen


      My name is Catherine Halvorsen and I graduated from University of Newcastle in 2006 with a Bachelor of Teaching and Early Childhood Studies. I have a passion for learning and working with young children.

      I am currently on Maternity Leave.

      As an Early Childhood Educator I highly value the importance of the early years. I believe that childhood is a time of curiosity, wonder and magic. I also believe that it is during this meaningful connection and the foundations for future learning will be made.

      I believe that each child is a unique individual that is both capable and resourceful. I also believe that each child has a keen desire to learn. I believe that every child deserves the opportunity to learn and develop in their own individual way at their own individual pace.

      As an Educator I understand that children learn best when they are offered relevant and interesting materials with ample time and opportunity to investigate. Children should be active participants throughout the learning process and as such I see myself as a facilitator. As a teacher it is important to provide support during learning experiences when needed and it is also important to occasionally step back and be an observer, passenger and treasure childhood and the identity of particular children and their families.

      I look forward to working with you and your child to provide the best possible care.

    • Candice Darcy
      Room Leader

      Candice Darcy

      Room Leader

      Hi my name is Candice Darcy and I have worked at JEEC for eight years and am currently the room leader in the 2-4 Early Learners Room. I hold a Diploma of Community Services: Children’s Services which I achieved through TAFE NSW. I have been working in the child care industry since June 2005. When I am not working I enjoy spending time with my husband Aaron, my family and our cocker spaniel puppies Jett and Gus. I enjoy walks along the beach, going to the footy, movies, coffee with girlfriends but I especially love shopping with my mum for shoes, dresses and handbags!! I also enjoy travelling and so far have seen parts of Europe, South Africa, Fiji, Vegas, Hawaii and parts of Australia. I look forward to many more overseas trips.

      I believe children have the right to a safe and happy childhood. I believe children learn best in a calm and nurturing environment, where they are free to explore endlessly and where educators are there to scaffold when required.

      Day care is a place where children can participate in activities beneficial to their own interests. When children are here they can learn, play, build relationships and social skills and they are educated each day through hands on play and intentional teaching.

      I really enjoy my job, getting down on the children’s level to take part in lot of exciting experiences with them. My greatest satisfaction of the job is seeing how much each child grows and develops during a year and knowing a played an important part in that.

      I look forward to this journey of caring for your child.

    • Kaitlin Hawkins

      Kaitlin Hawkins


      Freshly back from Maternity leave this year, Kaitlin has her certificate 111 and will be working in the Preschool Room Part time.

    • Treena Coxon

      Treena Coxon


      I started at Jesmond Early Education Centre in 2016 where I gained my Cert III. I have had experience in all three rooms over my time here.

      I am currently working three days in the Early Learners Room (Tue, Wed, Thurs)

    • Shalea Sandford-Bell

      Shalea Sandford-Bell


      Hi my name is Shalea Sandford-Bell and I have been working here at Jesmond Early Education Centre since January 2014, starting my traineeship to study my Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care. I am currently furthering my studies here at Jesmond Early Education Centre, completing my Diploma over 2015/2016.

      I am a member of the Early Development Room (0-2 years) this year.

      I love my job, creating a supportive and encouraging environment for children to learn and grow. This year I have been passionate about bringing comfort into the Early Development Room for children and families.

    • Ashleigh Cartwright

      Ashleigh Cartwright


      Ashleigh is currently working part time in the Early Development Room