Breadcrumbs

Tauranga early childhood student’s heart of gold

14 January 2019

Charlotte Hartley completed her Bachelor of Teaching (Early Childhood) in Tauranga and has returned to study a Master of Teaching and Learning (Primary) in Hamilton this year.

Tauranga mother of six Charlotte Hartley is one of the University of Waikato’s star adult students. Charlotte’s kind nature and positive attitude has endeared her to students and staff alike and seen her thrive in the student ambassador role she’s held for the best part of her undergraduate degree.

Last year hardworking Charlotte’s efforts were acknowledged when she was awarded a Vice-Chancellor’s Adult Learner’s Award. The icing on the cake was a TeachNZ Scholarship to pay her year’s course fees plus $10,000. Now, with a Bachelor of Teaching (Early Childhood) under her belt, there’s no rest for the busy mum as she takes on her next challenge – studying a Master of Teaching and Learning (Primary), this time at Waikato’s Hamilton campus. “There’s a fair amount of travel involved but I’m enjoying the beauty of the grounds in Hamilton,” says Charlotte.

Despite the travel, study and family commitments, Charlotte will also squeeze in some casual work at the well-respected Toi Ohomai Early Childhood Centre where she did her practicum and has worked as a relief teacher for the past year. “I’ve been very fortunate to be working with the calibre of teachers there to put my theory into practice," she says. "I’ll be really happy to still do the odd day here and there while doing my masters.”

But Charlotte’s was an unconventional journey into early childhood education. Born into a fundamentalist Christian family, Charlotte was home schooled from age 12 where she says it was considered a woman’s job to get married and have children.

“I wasn’t particularly engaged with learning when I was home schooled. I felt that I didn’t really fit in because I questioned everything. I wanted to do more with my life but growing up in that environment, getting a university education wasn’t an option. My job was to grow up and have children, so that’s what I did.”

Charlotte married at 20 and had her first child a year later going to have five more children and, sadly, miscarrying two. When the dedicated mum hit 30 she got a job at the Bethlehem Baptist Church as a preschool coordinator. It was her first foray into work and it was, quite literally, ‘baptism by fire’.

“That job showed me how much I didn’t know and how much more I wanted to know,” she says. After a year she made the decision to enrol at university. Her sister Rebecca recommended Waikato for its reputation in early childhood education. Charlotte admits that initially she found the tertiary experience overwhelming and scary. “I didn’t know how to communicate with people outside of my ‘safe circle’. I didn’t know how to study, I’d never written an essay. There were a lot of firsts and it was touch and go for a while that I could stick it out.”

But her lecturers saw something in her and encouraged her to keep going. “They gave me the right kind of feedback to propel me forward and to delve deeper,” says Charlotte. “That’s what made the difference.”

Charlotte’s children range in age from 5 to 13 and she juggles care for them with husband James, a senior volunteer firefighter who is just months away from completing a mechanical apprenticeship through Toi Ohomai. Charlotte says her family have influenced her learning, and her study has enhanced her relationship with her kids. “I wanted to show them that they could achieve their dreams and that they could do whatever they want to do. When they see me leaving for uni with my books and my laptop tucked under my arm it’s normalising that study ethic. It’s also been important for me, having four girls, to show that girls can do anything!”

Charlotte appreciates that being a teacher of pre-schoolers is a huge responsibility. “It is your aroha for children that will further develop you into a great teacher. This profession places you at the heart of a child’s learning and for some of the very young ones, you also become their voice and advocacy. You have to give your study the attention and dedication it deserves, as it will shape and mould you into the teacher you need to be for the children,” she says.

Latest stories

Related stories

Wise up: How insights from Māori leadership can create a better world

In her upcoming public lecture on 1 September, Professor Chellie Spiller will draw on the…

It’s Armageddon for University Esports

This weekend (25 & 26 July), the University of Waikato is keen to show esports…

Rare giant squid caught in the Bay of Plenty will assist MPI research

A giant squid caught off Whakaari/White Island, will be used by University of Waikato marine…

tga

University of Waikato Tauranga Campus wins top Australasian award

The University of Waikato Tauranga Campus scooped a top award for its innovative learning environment…

eng

University of Waikato offers fast-track to engineering

Engineering hopefuls, and those looking for a career change, may get an early foot in…

Waikato students engineer the perfect flatting set up and study bubble

When almost the entire first-year engineering cohort from the University of Waikato Tauranga campus moved…

alan-chew-alumnus

Alumnus donates expertise to NZ COVID Tracer

Like so many during lockdown, alumnus Alan Chew wanted to help. He put his talents…

Coffee in a crisis

WMS Alum Blair Paterson has risen to the challenge of leading his team at Homebrew…

Queens Honours 2020

Waikato alumni recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list

A world-leading mathematician, an advocate for Māori language education and a master voyager are just…

University of Waikato

University of Waikato shows how large organisations can tackle contact tracing

While many businesses across the Waikato have adopted some form of contact tracing as part…

Sociology student creating meaningful experiences for disabled youth

Emma Dalton's new role with Recreate NZ, a provider of social and recreational services to…

Waikato students help communities in lockdown

With people around the country coming to grips with the Covid-19 lockdown, two University of…