Corrinne Cloake, Dennison Street Early Learning Centre

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The childcare industry has a number of beautiful people that have made a career out of what is clearly a passion; the early education and care of children. For many this extends into relationships with students that span from childhood into early adulthood. Corrinne from Denison Street Early Learning Centre is one such person. A career spanning some 22 years her very first students, who are now in their early 20’s, are now sending their children to be cared for by Corrinne and the team at her centre. Kidsoft caught up with Corrinne to get an insight into some of the highlights of her career over the years.

What initially attracted you to a career in childcare?
If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life – as the quote goes. I found my calling with children and couldn’t imagine another career.

Tell us a little about Denison Street Early Learning Centre and your role there.
I have been with Denison Street for 20 years this year in October. I have worked my way through the ranks from room leader, to Director over a five year period, and studied my Bachelor of teaching to allow the centre to increase occupancy from 38 when I originally started to the 58 that we have today. I have been involved in building a community which I am proud of, I’ve worked through building and backyard renovations, changes and extensions as well as management and software changes.  

Gosh – that’s a lot of children over the years, some 1,000+! Do you still see any of them within your community? Your first year students would be in their early adulthood now.
This year we have 90 families and 120 children in our care. I am still in touch with a number of my children. One of the little girls I had in my first toddler room is now sending her daughter to Denison Street, so I’m now looking after her. Another family of ours is sending their sixth child to Denison Street. The children from when I first started are turning 18-21 this year!

I suspect this is rare for you, but if you had a full day off what would you do with it?
(insert laughing face!)  Try to link it to a weekend and have a weekend away.

What’s been taking up your days of late?
COVID – emotional and anxious educators and families. General chaos. 

How do you feel moving back to CCS will go, how are you preparing as a service?
I have to say everything Kidsoft is doing in the back end has been incredibly helpful as it saves us valuable time. I was talking to our operations manager and we were discussing how it had taken away a lot of things we would have previously had to worry about. 

We don’t have a crystal ball which is tough for planning as we’re not sure if families will come back as per their days pre COVID or if we should plan for a worst case scenario which would see 5-6 spots per day free. The questions that then come up are how does that affect us from a staffing level? We could be lucky and it all goes back to normal.

What is the most difficult part of your job?
Balancing all the roles (different hats) throughout the day depending on the given situation.

And what is the most rewarding?
Having amazing relationships within the Centre (children, families and educators) as well as the wide network I have within our local area. 

What drove the decision for Denison Street Early Learning Centre to look at changing CCS software providers?
Now that’s a long story! We originally had Squirrel and found it too hard to use and the software clunky. We then had a change of management companies and changed software providers to Qikkids. Qikkids did what we needed. We then had another management change, where I took on the role as Director and had the choice to change to Kidsoft or stay with Qikkids. I was initially opposed to Kidsoft knowing and having worked with the previous version. After some very in depth conversations with Peta from the Kidsoft team, and a trial we made the switch and haven’t looked back.

What has been your favourite thing about working with Kidsoft?
The people behind the product. They make it! Peta and Cassie (in recent years) have been amazing to work with. I am also happy that changes are made to suit the users, and that the Kidsoft team (whether it’s the developers or the rest of the team) are on track with current requirements and ease of use. 

How would you describe your upbringing?
Happy. I was raised in a nuclear family, my parents are still together and will be celebrating 43 years of marriage this year. I didn’t have things handed to me, I had help when needed but worked for what I wanted and that made the success all the better. 

43 years, that’s amazing, and such an achievement! Are you married? Do you have children?
Yes, I’ve been married since 2011 and we have a daughter. Our baby turns eight this month. She was in our care at Denison Street as I went to work full time from when she was five months old. She did a day to two days a week before school and as you can imagine is now part of the family.

Who would you say was your role model growing up?
Growing up – definitely my parents, and their strong work ethic.

And today, has it changed?
I gained a mentor in the industry when I started at Denison Street, he was the owner. Wolfgang inspired me to not only do better but to be better. To take challenges and learn from it, and to search for answers if I couldn’t find them elsewhere. He had a business sense that I haven’t seen rivalled and I learnt a lot from him.

What inspires you?
Loyalty and doing good for good sake. 

What’s your vice…
Sweet or savoury – Sweet
Caffeine, wine, Netflix binge and a good book trilogy.

Corrinne Cloake is the Director at Denison Street Early Learning Centre, a customer of Kidsoft since 2015.

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