A passion for nurturing young minds
Full-time teacher, My Treehut
For Auckland’s Jess Aspin (nee Bushill), completing her Bachelor of Teaching (Early Childhood Education) with Open Polytechnic meant that she could turn her lifelong love of working with children into a successful career as the co-owner of her very own childcare centre. Bumblebees Childcare Centre.
Jess’ interest in working with children started at an early age when she became the go-to babysitter for family and friends. Unsure of the career path she wanted to take, Jess decided to enrol in a 6-month nanny course before heading off on her OE in Europe with her partner Matt. Upon returning home to New Zealand a few years later, Jess decided to pursue a qualification in what she loved best – working with children.
Jess decided to enrol with Open Polytechnic due to the freedom and flexibility it offered her to study and work simultaneously. Jess worked as a nanny throughout her studies, tackling each paper at her own pace. “I’m so glad I chose Open Polytechnic as you can make your day of study what you want it to be. I liked to space my study out like a work day, which is how I think I succeed because I was always fresh when I came back from a break,” says Jess.
With Matt’s help and encouragement, the pair opened their childcare centre, Bumblebees Childcare Centre, in Auckland. “My studies have helped me immensely in my business and I wouldn’t be where I am today if I hadn’t taken that risk to go back to school,” says Jess. “I’ve been able to go from a part-time student and nanny to a business woman who can now handle everything from ordering $70k of resources to designing the layout of a room for children. It’s been great for my personal growth because I really had to step up.”
Matt and Jess are currently both directors at Bumblebees Childcare Centre and share ownership with three other directors. The centre is licensed for up to 70 children. In the future, Jess and Matt would love to open a second centre but in the meantime, they are enjoying running the centre and being new parents to their son Jack.
During her studies, Jess enjoyed the practical element of the qualification the most. “The four practicum I had gave me the experience to know how to teach and work with children in the real world. Many elements of Bumblebees Childcare Centre have come from my experiences in practicum that I’ve brought to life in the centre,” says Jess.
In addition to the practicums, Jess says that the workshops provided a great opportunity to come together with her peers and lecturers. “The workshops meant that we could come together as a group of very like-minded people who were all there for the same reason and for me, I found it really exciting to make friends, make connections and basically network with people.”
Jess found that when she first started studying by distance, the lack of face-to-face contact was a challenge. In addition to the support of her partner, family and friends, Jess relied on her course lecturers for help and guidance. “I realised early on that I needed contact with people and I often called my lecturers when I felt stuck or lost. Many of them had their phones redirected to their mobile phones so I was even once talking to a lecturer while they were doing their food shop! They always called back if you left a message and were always very accessible,” says Jess.
To help her relate and connect with her peers, Jess also decided to start a study group with a few other students so that they could compare notes and lend each other any support they needed.
In May 2016, Jess’ study journey culminated at the Open Polytechnic graduation ceremony in Auckland where she was able to celebrate graduating with her Bachelor of Teaching (Early Childhood Education) while surrounded by friends and family.
“What I enjoyed most about graduation was throwing my cap in the air and celebrating with my peers and lecturers,” says Jess. “I gave up so much to study but I loved every minute of it. I was thinking that all of the hard hours, days and months of work had finally come down to that day where I could graduate and say I’d finally gotten my degree, so it was all really exciting.”
To all those thinking of furthering their education and embarking on their study journey, Jess suggests taking the leap. “Study at your own pace and tailor it to suit your lifestyle. I took the risk and I urge all those considering it to do the same. Hand on heart, go with Open Polytechnic because the way it is designed was so successful for me. No matter what your situation is, if you have even the slightest flicker of interest in bettering yourself, then why not. You have absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain.”
My studies have helped me immensely in my business, and I wouldn’t be where I am today if I hadn’t taken that risk to go back to school.