Building the foundations of others

Glenn Orsbourne
  • Centre superivsor, Karaka Learning Centre

Glenn Orsbourne knows a lot about foundations, for years he built and altered homes, but the Auckland-based father of four now creates foundations of a different sort, laying down the initial building blocks for future learning as an early childhood teacher, a career transition made possible through studying the Open Polytechnic Bachelor of Teaching (Early Childhood Education).


“The early years of childhood are the most important. Starting to teach these children at this early stage is like building, you are laying down the foundation for their future. You are making an impact on a child’s life which will last a lifetime. My hope is that each child who comes through our centre has a passion to learn throughout their lives, because they learnt how to learn,” Glenn says.

Career change

From his varying building positions, including a building quantity surveyor for PlaceMakers,  a sales representative for the Building Depot and a Trades Sales Manager for Mitre10 Mega, it was when his wife gave birth to their third child that Glenn’s career took a new turn.

“My wife wanted to go back to work as she had looked after the other two children when they were babies. So I gave up my work to look after our new born son and the other children.  That’s when I realised that I was teaching them and I was learning from them. I enjoyed it so much that my wife convinced me to take up studying and become a qualified early childhood teacher,” Glenn explains.

The transition from the stereotypically macho world of building and trades to early childhood education was an organic one for Glenn.

“Because I had fun with my children and I learnt that this was a passion of mine, I knew that I had had enough of the physical work of building and decided to follow this new career path where I felt happier and had a sense of satisfaction in what I wanted to do.”

Study fitted around lifestyle

Glenn says the distance learning approach used by the Open Polytechnic which includes online contact and workshops where you meet other students fitted in with his lifestyle.  With children to look after and needing to work part time to support his wife’s income, studying through the Open Polytechnic helped Glenn achieve all his goals.

“I had a mortgage, bills, three children to feed and a fourth child on the way. Being able to study at my own pace in my own place and at a time that suited, met the needs of my family the best,” he explains.

Glenn says his study sessions were mostly in the evening after the children had gone to bed or during the afternoons on the weekends after taking the children to Saturday soccer games. His hard work and dedication paid off. Glenn was offered a position at Karaka Learning Centre after his first practicum.

The Open Polytechnic  offers the Bachelor of Teaching ( Early Childhood Education) in a blended approach which means students attend regional workshops and undertake practicum in a variety of early childhood education settings during their studies.  

Glenn's journey

“I started as a reliever, then I was offered a full time job and then became a centre supervisor. This involves working with three to four-year-old children and supervising staff members. Karaka Learning centre is very supportive of students and professional development programmes,” he says.

“The Open Polytechnic helped me get the Bachelor of Teaching (ECE) qualification and guided me through the process; I used it in a positive way to get to the supervision role. You have to be passionate about early childhood education in order to work in this environment, if you haven’t got the passion, it won’t work for you.”

Glenn’s future plans include completing his teacher registration and further down the track, he is considering doing his Masters degree.

Glenn says that the early childhood education sector needs more male representation.

“I wouldn’t say I am a pioneer, but I do think we need more male representation in early childhood education. It’s not until you have looked after your own children that you realise this could be a career path. It might be something you could do and enjoy. I do think that early childhood education should be something offered in high schools as a work experience option. I certainly hadn’t given it any thought until the opportunity to look after my own children came along.”

Job satisfaction

Glenn says his new career has given him a unique sense of job satisfaction.

“When you teach a child something and then later on, the next day or a few weeks later the parents come in and repeat what their child told them they had learnt, you know that they went home and told their family what they were doing at the centre. It is so rewarding. When they leave us to go to school and we go to their awards ceremony, it is a big thing. It is an achievement for us as teachers as well as for their families,” he says.

Plans for the future

Glenn and his wife are looking forward to expanding their home on 10 acres of land they recently bought.

“There is some native bush on the property and our children enjoy exploring the bush and caring for our animals. Getting this land has been a dream of my wife and I for a long time and the study I did through the Open Polytechnic helped me gain the income needed to be able to purchase it. Being part of the Open Polytechnic helped me get through the initial interview at Karaka Learning Centre and supported me throughout this journey.”


The early years of childhood are the most important. Starting to teach these children at this early stage is like building, you are laying down the foundation for their future.