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In 2002, Tania Van Niekerk decided to leave her career as a Pharmacist behind to discover her true passion.
“I realised working in pharmacies wasn’t for me, so I moved to South Korea and taught English to young children in a kindergarten for six years. That’s when my love for working with children really started to develop,” Tania said.
Fresh off the plane and inspired by her experience in South Korea, Tania enrolled to study a Bachelor of Teaching (Early Childhood Education) at New Zealand Tertiary College as the first step towards gaining New Zealand teacher registration.
Following a study experience she describes as “enjoyable and enriching”, she then went on to complete a Master of Early Childhood Education with NZTC and was promoted at her centre.
“The proudest moment of my career was receiving my Master’s degree and an award for Academic Excellence, and shortly after being offered a team leader position,” said Tania.
The graduate has seen her passion and confidence grow since studying with NZTC, with her new skills and knowledge supporting her work on a daily basis.
“My study has equipped me to understand children better and to support their growth and development based upon their interests and everything they bring with them to the centre,” said Tania.
“I have gained confidence as a teacher, and have also been able to put my theoretical knowledge into action in my teaching and leadership practice.”
Tania now sees challenging behaviour in children as ‘just the tip of the iceberg’, as she constantly reminds herself to consider a child’s background.
“For me it’s about trying to understand how they fit into a bigger picture. The most rewarding experience of my career was when a child with major disruptive behaviour wrapped his arms around my neck and hugged me for what seemed like forever.”