Victoria alumna experiences overnight change in career

A snap decision to save her daughter's preschool has led Victoria University of Wellington alumna Miranda Major to a change of career and a new qualification.

Miranda Major smiles in the playground of her preschool.

Miranda graduated from Victoria last month with a Graduate Diploma of Teaching (Early Childhood), which she completed while running Wellington’s Donald Street Preschool with her husband Bruce and working for Universal Pictures.

Miranda, who studied accounting and law at the University of Otago as a school-leaver, says she “kind of fell into early childhood teaching” five years ago when she received an email from the former owner of Donald Street Preschool announcing that the preschool would be closing.

Miranda says the family-friendly environment that the preschool offered was too special to pass up, so she and Bruce made a quick decision.

“We got the email on the Friday, by Sunday we had decided to check out the property, and on the Monday we started the process of buying the preschool. Our friends joked that buying our daughter’s preschool must mean we’re trying to win parent of the year awards.”

The process was complicated by the fact that the preschool is part of a residential property.

“We had to decide if the home would work for our family, as well as being sure we were fitting with the Ministry of Education’s requirements—with childcare comes regulations and policies and getting to grips with that was a learning curve. It was also the first time we were employers, but the fact that our teacher Michelle is still with us after five years is a good sign.”

Working in a preschool “sparked a passion for early childhood” in Miranda, and she decided to pursue that with tertiary education, which has also allowed her to better support her staff.

“Not only does it mean I can now step in if a teacher needs to take leave, but I also have an understanding of the theories and reasons why children do what they do. Now, when I’m in the preschool, I see what a child does and I automatically start thinking about why they’re doing it.

“Being able to study the diploma online was really helpful because I was able to maintain my job at Universal Pictures as well as working at the preschool. We also had two seven-week placements at other centres where I picked up a lot of ideas.”

As for further studies, Miranda says “my husband keeps asking me the same thing—I’m not ruling it out, but at this stage, I just want to apply and practice what I’ve learnt”.

Miranda was awarded an Education Excellence Award from Victoria’s Faculty of Education.