Early Learning Education Gave Me Purpose: Yolanda McMillan, Nido Early School Eyre Village
In a remarkable career shift, a former retail manager Yolanda McMillan found her true calling in early childhood education, driven by an unwavering passion for working with children. The journey of this dedicated Executive Service Manager from Nido Early School Eyre Village, who has now been with Nido for nearly eight years, reflects a narrative of personal growth, adaptability, and a genuine connection with the community.
Yolanda’s childhood affinity for children, a trait noticed by family members who often suggested a career in teaching. However, life first led her down the path of retail management. It wasn’t until her own daughter reached kindergarten age that the calling to work with children resurfaced.
Frequent visits to her daughter’s kindergarten class sparked a profound joy and connection with the children, prompting her to explore a career change. “When my daughter got to kindy age, I would drop her off and would talk to the other children. I would stay, I would read books and I just loved it. It just gave me that warm and fuzzy feeling. I knew I need to do something about it.” Yolanda signed up to study a Diploma in Early Childhood Education and balanced not only family and student life, but she even ventured into a Grasshopper Soccer franchise to merge her love for soccer with her passion for working with children.
Upon completing her diploma, Yolanda joined local early learning school; ELK, that later transitioned to Nido. Starting as a student, she swiftly worked her way up to become a team leader in the nursery, surprising even herself with the love she found in nurturing the youngest minds. Recognised for her empathetic and caring nature, she excelled in mentoring roles, eventually becoming a Curriculum Leader.
“Being a team leader, you are a senior member of the team. I would onboard educators, induct them, train them, and I guess I was a good mentor. The ESM saw my strengths in leadership and mentoring and for a while I was doing both roles. At one point I was overseeing three services as their Curriculum Leader. I felt like it gave me purpose, I felt like I was making a difference.”
The turning point came when she was offered the position of Executive Service Manager (ESM) at Golden Grove, where she stayed for two fulfilling years. However, the call to serve her own community at Eyre Village, just minutes away from where her journey began, proved irresistible. She identified with the families and children’s needs, establishing a sense of purpose.
Yolanda says: “I grew up here and I know the context of the families and I connect with the families. It’s a low socioeconomic area, there’s lot of underprivileged children, families might not be as educated as others, but I felt just a sense of home here, and I felt like I needed to represent my own community. I know the gaps; I know what my community and children need here.”
What sets her journey apart is not just her personal growth but also her deep connection with Nido as a company. Yolanda emphasises feeling more than just a cog in a corporate machine; instead, she feels connected and supported by the Nido management team, citing a personal relationship with managers. “We can put faces to names, we can put conversations and memories to names. Although it is a big company, it doesn’t feel like a corporate company. I feel comfortable to progress my career, I feel supported. I know that if I give something a try, somebody will be there to help me. Or if I’m not successful then that’s OK, they’re still going to be there to support me.”
Looking ahead, Yolanda envisions a future deeply rooted in the Nido Early School community. Currently enrolled in the Nido facilitators program, she aims to enhance her skills in facilitating training, extending her leadership to benefit both educators and families. Her nearly eight-year long journey at Nido exemplifies the company’s ethos of support, development, and a genuine commitment to making a positive impact in the field of early childhood education.
Yolanda adds: “I do like leadership, and I really like helping people. I’ve been with Nido for almost 8 years and know the Nido way, it isn’t something that you can just read on a piece of paper, but it’s something that you develop over time, and something you feel.”