Meet Our Trainers

Lara JenningsOwner/Founder - Education Nerd

Hello! I'm the founder of Offspring Education and I am a self confessed education nerd. I love all things education because I know that when children have an education that allows them to reach their full potential then we will have a better world for it. After completing my Bachelor of Education I taught in primary and secondary schools for a number of years. My love for Early Childhood came about from having my own children and seeing for myself just how important those first 5 years are for a child's learning and development.

I love talking to educators about their philosophy and how that impacts what they do in their practice. I love challenging the norms of education. 'Why' is such a powerful word. I want to know why we do things. And then I want to know how we can do them better. And that is how I run my workshops and consultations with educators, with the outcomes for children at the forefront of my mind. If only all levels of education could be as child-centred, flexible and developmentally appropriate as early childhood!

When I'm not doing any of the above I am hanging out with my two beautiful and crazy children, my husband, my cat and my dog. My favourite pass time is sleeping, reading a good book is a close second and peppermint chocolate is the closest thing I can think of to heaven.

 

Sandra McCarthy - Professional Development Co-ordinator 

Sandra holds a Diploma of Teaching in Early Childhood and a Graduate Diploma in Educational Studies – Music. Having worked in early childhood for 31 years, she has vast experience in a variety of settings & roles such as sessional kindergarten, the management & operation of her own early learning setting and then consultancy. Sandra’s recent experience includes being an Educational Leader for a family day care scheme and a Trainer and Assessor in the classroom delivery of the Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care.

Sandra is passionate about the delivery of quality practice and believes that keeping up to date with current research and practices is vital to providing quality care in early childhood settings. Sandra is an advocate for the wellbeing of children and educators; and has a keen interest in the theories around emotional intelligence and brain development. 

 

Brenda Ward - Professional Development Facilitator

Hi, my name is Brenda Ward and I am an Inclusion Professional for KU Children’s Services.

For the past twenty years I have been fortunate enough to have experienced Early Childhood in many facets, from managing a community based long day care service, to co-ordinating LDC/OSHC/Inclusion Support Program at a local state government and most recently, a Trainer at Victoria University, teaching in the Certificate III and Diploma of Early Childhood Education & Care.

During my Early Childhood career, I have been fortunate to be working alongside highly skilled professionals who have mentored and influenced my journey. In particular, I found children to be the most influential, as I believe we can learn from children as much as we can teach children, especially when we just be with children. I am in awe of children’s curiosity, discovery and connection with the world around them.

I believe families and early childhood educators have such an important role and am very passionate about empowering early childhood educators and professionals, families and services towards independence and self-reliance through the provision of high quality early childhood services.

I tailor my workshops and consultations in line with educator and service needs, with a focus on reflecting on current service philosophy, policy and practises to ensure these encompass high quality for all children, families and educators.

In my spare time, I love being with my family – my husband, five year old son and four year old daughter outdoors enjoying nature – going for a walk, bike ride by the lake or outing. I also love indulging in anything sweet…

 

Danny Lewis - Professional Development Facilitator

For over 20 years I have enjoyed a variety of roles in early years education including direct contact with children, setting up new services and educating adults.

I strongly believe in providing opportunities for all children to participate and meaningfully engage in deliberately build environments with experiences that allow for exploration and challenges for agency and growth.

I enjoy working with educators and teachers to explore new and creative ways to plan curriculum to support children’s learning.

My other passion in life is art and creativity. I want all children and adults to find an outlet to express their creativity.

 

Sally de Wijn - Occupational Therapist & PD Facilitator

Sally undertook her Bachelor Degrees of Occupational Therapy and Psychological Sciences at La Trobe University, this cemented her love of wanting to help and work with children with special and additional needs. Sally is a member of Occupational Therapy Australia as well as APHRA. Sally has completed post graduate studies in Child-Centered Play Therapy (CCPT), with Play Therapy Australia, and is working towards Clinical Membership of the Australia Play Therapists Association.

 

Sally works with children to develop their skills and increase their abilities within their daily life. Sally has a special interest in children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder, and after finishing her Play Therapy training also has an extended interest in children’s mental health.

 

Sally's workshops are geared toward providing educators and teachers with a unique understanding and insight into children with additional as well as practical tools that can be implimented into practice easily to provide cruicial support to children with additional needs.

 

Sally is a big advocate for letting children be children, and not making them grew up too quickly. If there is a puddle on the footpath Sally will be the first one to jump in it – followed by all the children around. Sally believes in the power of play and thinks growing up is over rated and is determined to be a child forever.

 

 

Jacinta Damons - Professional Development Facilitator

I am a passionate Educator that inspires and encourages all possibilities within each child. I scaffold and embrace the creative minds of children with the sole purpose to co construct the learning that is occurring in each infinitely capable mind of each child. My goal as an educator is to educate, facilitate and inspire with such passion that children want to have fun while they are learning.

I believe children need to allowed to play with plenty of freedom, time and space. I embody the Reggio approach in many ways within my teaching practices. Children are capable of so much learning when given open ended opportunities to explore and wonder in the worlds beauty and challenges and use the environment around us a third teacher.

As an Early Childhood Educator myself, I know how hard it is to keep the inspiration flowing when caught up with all of the paperwork. I want to inspire others to look outside the box and make children’s learning visible and fun at the same time.

I love to be outside with nature and that generally means in my garden. I love to create and maintain plants and potter around in our vegetable patch. I also like to paint with oils and acrylics onto canvas using nature as the inspiration mostly.  It’s a great way to relax for me and I gather inspiration from both.