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Teacher Spotlight: Juliet Smith, Bear Park Epsom

Teacher Spotlight: Juliet Smith, Bear Park Epsom

Bear Park teachers embody the Reggio philosophy and are vital to creating a nurturing environment that supports young minds through the powers of curiosity and creative expression. This month, we feature one of our dedicated teachers from Bear Park Epsom. Juliet Smith walks us through her experience as a Bear Park teacher.

teacher spotlight

Choosing a career with Bear Park

Juliet: When I moved to New Zealand eight years ago from the UK, I already did significant research into the Reggio Emilia philosophy and I knew exactly the type of centre I wanted to work in.

When I heard about Bear Park, I immediately applied for a position with them. Following a working interview at Dilworth, I knew straight away that this was where I wanted to work and develop as a teacher.  I could see that Bear Park truly believed in the Reggio philosophy—it was evident as soon as you walk through any of the Bear Park centres.

The owner of Bear Park is so passionate about the early years and in supporting the growth of their teachers. You will often see her in teachers’ meetings, at in-service, or even in programme planning.


What makes Bear Park a great place to build a long-term career in teaching?

Juliet: There are so many reasons! I love working and learning from so many passionate, caring, and inspiring teachers. This is one of the main reasons why I’ve stayed at Bear Park for several years.

I have built many great friendships here—Bear Park is like a family of friends to me. We are always encouraged to voice our ideas and to collaborate with each other as a team in staff meetings—everyone is validated. We model the practices and principles of the Reggio philosophy, as well as our own New Zealand curriculum Te Whāriki, as a team to the children.

I believe that if you work hard, use your initiative, and show commitment to wanting to always better yourself as a teacher, this will not go unnoticed at Bear Park. You are recognized, praised, and thanked for your contributions in person, through monthly incentives, long service leave, etc.

Little extras also make a big difference when you are working hard as a teacher—for example, weekly fresh fruit and dinner provided at staff meetings. Other perks also included paid fun work events throughout the year—such as the Bear Park ball—and dinner out as a team. 

“I have built many great friendships here—Bear Park is like a family of friends to me. We are always encouraged to voice our ideas and to collaborate with each other as a team in staff meetings—everyone is validated.”


Why is it important to have the support of an experienced pedagogical mentor?

Juliet: The Pedagogical team is extremely supportive and will spend time with us in our classrooms or during planning. Their role is to help give you ideas or suggestions that you may not have thought of, providing you with a different perspective to think about. They also acknowledge all of the good things that are happening.

During planning, it is always nice to have an experienced pedagogical mentor to bounce ideas off of and have discussions with. They share experiences from other centres and let you know what other teams have been doing for their investigations. They help you to focus as a team on intents for investigations.

As a centre supervisor, the pedagogical team and my centre director are always a great support when it comes to advice or confirmation when dealing with different situations.

“I believe that if you work hard, use your initiative, and show commitment to wanting to always better yourself as a teacher, this will not go unnoticed at Bear Park.”


How have you been supported in your career growth as a teacher? 

Juliet: Since starting with Bear Park, I have not only developed my knowledge and skills as a teacher, but also as a leader and a mentor to other teachers. I completed my teacher registration with an experienced teacher and this supported me in reflecting and growing as a teacher.

Now, as an experienced Bear Park teacher, I share my own experience as a mentor to new teachers going through the registration process. To support me with my leadership and mentoring skills, Bear Park has paid for me to attend several training courses, which have been invaluable for me to continue learning and growing as a teacher.

I’ve been extremely lucky to have had the opportunity to attend various early childhood conferences, locally as well as overseas to Australia and Reggio Emilia in Italy! These conferences are so inspiring. You take away something special from seeing the Reggio philosophy in practice in other centres. As a teacher, you are always evolving to be the best teacher possible for the children and Bear Park will support you with your career goals.

“Now, as an experienced Bear Park teacher, I share my own experience as a mentor to new teachers going through the registration process. ”


Interested in a progressive career opportunity with Bear Park? Apply for a role today!

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