Gympie after-school care worker awarded for dedication and passion
ASK ANY child care worker about their job and they'll tell you there's nothing simple about looking after children.
It's often a matter of trial and error, but Gympie carer Vesna Cvetkovic seems to have cracked the code - by asking the little ones what they want to do.
This approach has won her the acclaim of parents, students and Camp Australia - the company that oversees before- and after-school care at Jones Hill Primary.
Today she was awarded in front of the school assembly for her tireless work, beating out colleagues from across Australia.
"I was honestly shocked when I found out. It's a great honour but I was never in this for awards,” she says.
"It's always been about doing it for the kids.”
With a lifelong passion for supporting children, MrsCvetkovic was a foster parent before moving into child care five years ago.
She brings that depth of knowledge and experience to her work at Jones Hill, making the children she looks after an integral part of the day-to-day approach.
By not talking down to students, they're encouraged to step up and bring their own ideas to the table.
"We do a lot of projects, activities, arts and crafts,” Mrs Cvetkovic says.
"The funny thing is now they've gotten so into it, it can kind of be information overload.”
The idea of leadership is also placed at the forefront, from helping with preparation to showing new students around and getting them comfortable with their environment.
"There were around 16different kids nominated (to be team leader), which is really amazing,” Mrs Cvetkovic adds.
"We're giving all of them a shot ... to show them that even if they were nominated and didn't get it right away, it doesn't mean they aren't cut out for it.”
Mrs Cvetkovic's approach has been so successful that ideas she and her students have developed are now being adopted by other Camp Australia child care centres across the country.
"She's excelling in a number of areas we consider really important for the ongoing success of our centres, " says Camp Australia regional manager Tracy Thompson.
"We have an in-house social media service and now other carers are posting photos of activities MrsCvetkovic and her kids helped create.”
Initially working by herself at Jones Hill - an "exhausting, but rewarding experience” - Mrs Cvetkovic has now taken on another staff member.
But she insists it is necessary to maintain a one-on-one relationship with the students.
"We've got a boy who was very shy and he was having a lot of trouble with his homework,” Mrs Cvetkovic says.
"Within three weeks he was doing all of his homework here - that's what it's all about to me.”
With 2017 shaping up to be another massive year for this dedicated carer, Mrs Cvetkovic says parents and students could rest easy.
"It's all about continuing on this track and making sure the kids are getting the best care they can,” she says.