Margot Gregory celebrated an impressive 30 years working at Yass Early Childhood Centre Association (YECCA) seeing multiple generations of Yass Valley children through to big school.

Although she passed the major milestone towards the end of last year, Margot was gifted a bouquet by the YECCA team recently in honour of her achievement.

The mother of three and now grandmother started at the centre in 1991 and largely worked part-time.

Margot said she was very lucky that it had combined so well with her family life. Although, she’s been in the industry even longer training at Sydney Kindergarten Teacher’s College at Waverly. Now equivalent to a Bachelor’s degree, it was a three-year course full-time with classes from 9am to 4pm every weekday.

Margot then went on to work at Playways Toyshop under the umbrella of the Kindergarten Union (KU) in Clarence Street, Sydney where they would provide equipment for preschools in addition to running several themselves. Which was followed by a gig at a special school in Cowra before marrying and moving to the Yass Valley.

YECCA Director Julie Hearn has worked with Margot for 19 years now and described her knowledge and expertise as “unbelievable”.

At one point in a role reversal, Margot was Julie’s Director and she said Margot has taught her a lot throughout her time at the centre.

“She has a passion for what she does and that’s evident with her work and how she is,” Julie said.

“She’s got the children’s best interests at heart, but also the centre’s best interests at heart.” “You’ve got to have a passion if you’re going to be there for that long,” she said. “You certainly don’t do this job for the money, you do it because you want to do it.”

Julie said Margot has been an incredible asset to the centre and the families of Yass.

“The day she leaves will be a huge loss for us. I mean, I know it will come but it will be a tremendous loss, and I think YECCA is just extremely fortunate that we’ve had her with us for so long.”

Margot’s top advice for getting involved in the childcare sector was that you have to like children, which does seem like a good place to start.

“The basic idea is you’ve got to like children and you have to like watching them grow and being part of what they’re doing.”

Margot added that childcare enthusiasts generally must like working with people and being a part of a small community.

“It’s really not an easy job and I think you’ve got to go in with an open mind.”

“The last couple of years have been a bit tricky,” she said. “But it’s just nice watching them grow, seeing them develop and gain skills and gain independence and then go off to big school with the confidence that they need to that.”

However, Margot said sometimes she would love to have a crystal to see where the children end up, a sentiment most parents could agree with.

“Mostly they’re just a delight,” she said. “They give you a lot of entertainment and a lot of laughs.”

Margot now has children coming through the centre whose parents she also cared for and taught earlier on in her career.

“It’s quite funny, some of them you remember very clearly and then others you think ‘oh, yes, that’s right’ and you remember names.”

Some parents have told Margot how they told their own children that Margot was their preschool teacher as well.

“You have families that may have two, three or four children and then they all come through,” she said.

“They become part of your life in some ways and you become part of their life in some ways, not necessarily like a family but you make connections.” “It’s like being a part of the community – you’ve got parents, you’ve got educators, you’ve got the children and sometimes it’s like being part of the family.”

Brianna O’Rourke