Do you want to transfer courses? Sometimes fate will do it for you. It was an academic “accident” that led Blake Stewart to the door of his passion.
Blake was interested in being a primary school teacher. After high school he hatched a plot: enrol in a Bachelor of Arts at university, switch to a TAFE NSW Bachelor of Early Childhood Education and Care, and then switch back to uni with credit towards a bachelor degree in primary education.
Blake’s plan for switching between university and TAFE NSW and then back to uni started going to plan. Then a hitch: within weeks of studying early childhood education at TAFE NSW, Blake found his calling. He was hooked.
“I found the first five years of a child’s life are the most crucial time for learning and development; I realised that I had a passion for this,” Blake says.
“Two weeks into my degree and I was completely committed to it.”
His next challenge was to help shift perceptions about men in childcare.
Only about 5 per cent of early childhood educators are male. Blake could sense some initial reservations from parents during his first work placement.
But his passion for early childhood education – and the real skills he was picking up while studying something he loved – meant he was able to shift the parents’ and carers’ misconceptions about male educators.
“The parents became very supportive,” he says.
“They could see I was becoming a positive male role model for some of their children, especially those who had no male role model at home.
“The experience sparked an advocacy in me that flowed through my entire four-year degree.”
Blake accepted a position as a full-time teacher at the same place he did his internship. He says the flexibility of TAFE NSW meant he was able to balance the internship with his final year studies.
“I was able to do classes at night-time and also learn online.
“The ‘prac’ gives you career experience while you study and every lecturer I had at TAFE NSW was very personable.
“They showed interest in my academic career and my life that went over and above the classroom.
“They don’t see you as a number, they see you as an individual.”
Blake is turning out to be an amazing individual! He was promoted from early childhood educator to director of the centre he was employed at, which made him one of the the youngest preschool directors in Australia.
TAFE NSW Degrees are taught by industry experts in dynamic, boutique classes. With strong industry links, access to work-placements and industry connections, you get real skills for a real career.