Spirit of Play staff member: Olly
Spirit of Play staff member: Olly

Oliver Watkins

I started at Spirit of Play in 2014. It has been a really enjoyable experience for me. Every day I get to spend time with an interesting, creative, fun and growing community of children, their families and staff.

Before I lived in Denmark, I had heard of Spirit of Play and was inspired to hear of a school that has focuses on environmental education, play, creativity and respecting for Aboriginal culture, knowledge and connection to land. It is inspiring that this innovative school is growing. It shows what small groups of committed people can do.

When I first came to Spirit of Play I was really taken by the caring and creative teachers and children. I could tell that they were fully alive, with their eyes and minds open and that they enjoyed being at school.

Throughout my life I have been drawn into teaching roles as a result of my passion for sharing music and environmental awareness. As a musician, I became the musical director of Junkadelic, a junk percussion multi-arts collective that taught in schools all over Western Australia. As an environmentalist I found myself teaching at community gardens, and working with a wide variety of groups to engage in positive environmental action.

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Angela Dickinson

I have been an education assistant at Spirit of Play since February, 2014. Prior to this I have worked with children with special needs. I have a Diploma in Conservation and Land Management and have worked as a bush regenerator and as a ranger in Kakadu National Park. I have a degree in Chemistry and Biochemistry and have worked in research.

All my children attended the school and I was actively involved in the parent management committee. As a parent I was attracted to the school because of the holistic, environmental and cultural education. The school community was very inclusive and had a welcoming feel. It was like an extended family. I loved that input from parents was sought into running of school. All staff work together towards a shared vision.

At Spirit of Play children are nurtured and happy. I believe that education should be holistic and more than just ‘academic’, that children need skills to carry them through life. They need to be encouraged and supported to do their best. I hope to install a love of learning that will continue through life. I love the way that the environment surrounding us is incorporated into learning. Also, that the children are free to “experiment” and learn through experiences.

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Spirit of Play staff member: Serena
Spirit of Play staff member: Serena

Serena Kirby

I have been fortunate enough to be an Education Assistant at Spirit of Play since the start of 2014. The experience has been life changing and life enriching.

My first impression of the school was that of a warm hug – where children are nurtured, guided and encouraged. I’ve always believed in building resilience in children (including my own), fostering problem solving and learning life skills. Many of these come from leaning about nature and taking calculated risks, and the manner in which Spirit of Play integrates this into everyday learning was very appealing.

I am qualified EA, who as worked on contract with numerous other local schools. I have a love of literature, art and culture, have travelled extensively and worked for many years in the high pressure corporate world, before relocating to Denmark in 2004 and retraining as an EA. Away from school life, I am an author of a reference and self-help book for women who become first time mothers later in life entitled Better Late Than Never Baby. But my greatest achievement is becoming a mother and raising a vibrant, sensitive and happy young son.

Lessons have been many, during my time at Spirit of Play, but what I have learnt about Noongar culture has certainly enriched my life.

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Spirit of Play staff member: Kanae

Kanae Jones

I have been working at Spirit of Play as an education assistant, since 2015.

I was first attracted to the school in 2010 after moving to Denmark from Japan and joined the playgroup with my children. I was immediately charmed by the school surroundings, nestled amongst the lush bush and beautiful river.

I was fascinated by how the children learned through nature, making the most of Denmark’s dynamic environment, and impressed by the school’s emphasis on aboriginal culture.

My past working experiences in a cross-cultural environment, first at a pharmaceutical company as an international liaison person and then as an exchange student coordinator at one of the universities, help me to appreciate and respect the diversity in each individual, and to understand that respect, kindness and compassion binds us all together beyond any differences we may have.

Each day I am inspired by how the children are one hundred percent present at all times, and by the beautiful expressions of wonder I see on their faces.

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Spirit of Play staff member: Kanae

Spirit of Play staff member: Sarah
Spirit of Play staff member: Sarah

Sarah Pozzi

I have been working at Spirit of Play since it began in 1999. Back then I was a parent with my own young children, looking for an alternative education for them.

I really wanted somewhere that offered small classes, lots of outdoor exploration and focused on nurturing the children as whole beings.

When Spirit of Play began I got involved, finished my teaching degree and have worked here ever since!

What attracted me to the school was its strong connection to nature and the Denmark environment, and its strong and supportive community. I also loved the idea of children being listened to and valued and given the opportunity to be highly involved in their own learning.

I enjoy working with children as they remind me to broaden my perspectives – there are so many different ways to look at the world around us. I love their joy of discovery and those “a-ha!” moments. I love having a job where I get to learn and have fun with children everyday and work with dedicated, enthusiastic and creative staff.

I bring to my work my experience as a parent of three children of my own and my love of being outside – whether in my garden and orchard, and exploring nature in the bush or at the beach, and my life on a 15 household vibrant community.

Spirit of Play has taught me that providing a nurturing, rich and challenging education for children is hard work, takes a lot of time and dedication but is deeply rewarding for all involved – the children, families and staff.

One piece of advice for parents would be – don’t push your children to grow up too fast!

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Rance Boog

Rance Boog joined the Spirit team in January 2017.

Rance has worked in all sectors of Education including; Government-public, Independent-private and Catholic systems. He is an advocate for Community based education especially experienced in the pedagogies of Reggio Emelia, Nature-based and Child centred education.

He was an inaugural member that helped Bold Park Community School develop to now offer K-12 child orientated education. Rance has a Masters degree in Education and has successfully taught children from Kindergarten to year 7; with a particular expertise in Science .

Rance is also a qualified Life Coach and is willing to share his professional skills with both staff and students. Rance also has post graduate qualifications in Science and has a Masters degree in Accounting.

Rance and his family have travelled extensively around Australia and overseas but one of their most memorable adventures was been spent living for 4 years with the Indigenous communities in the Kimberley region of Western Australia.

Rance is married to Louise and they have 4 children (Nuala -16yrs, Tamura – 15yrs, Emelia -12yrs and Jasmine – 10yrs). Louise is an Environmental Engineer working at UWA and the children enjoy ballet, soccer, hockey, swimming and being on the family farm.

Rance and his family enjoy being together exploring outdoor pursuits. They frequently use their time to camp, hike, kayak, surf and mountain bike ride.


Zoe Car

 

I have been involved with Spirit of Play since 2009 when my elder daughter started Kindy here. I quickly became an involved parent and served on the School Council for 4 years before transitioning to an administrative role in 2016 where I assist the Principal in the areas of governance, registration and compliance, and school expansion.

I’ve always loved the small and intimate nature of this school, where the staff are close knit and see the students as part of our extended family. I love watching all the children grow and blossom into such sparky individuals.

Prior to working at Spirit of Play I spent many years working on my Doctorate in Environmental Management. Through my research I was able to meet and work with Indigenous communities north of Broome and assist them in setting up a community Ranger program to look after marine turtles and dugong. I think that the work I did then has really helped me in my role at the School, as I had to develop good listening and collaboration skills when working with diverse community groups and organisations.

My biggest challenge is often to resist the urge make everything happen immediately, I can get pretty impatient with government processes and bureaucracy at times; but I have learnt to slow down and reduce my expectations of myself and the systems I work with.

A highlight of my time with the School has been the chance to watch this amazing place grow from such a small size to the thriving organisation it is now. I am really looking forward to seeing what the future will bring as we transition to a new school site and become a full Primary School.


Jessica Dyer

 

It was with great pleasure and excitement that I joined the school as a staff member at the beginning of 2017. For two years my role was as the Specialist Art teacher and in 2020 I moved into an Education Assistant role. My experience at Spirit of Play began when my daughter attended kindergarten twelve years ago. My son has also been at the school since kindy and he is now in year four. Over that time I have watched the school evolve from a small early childhood school into what it is now… an amazing and vibrant school with classes up to Year Six. As it’s grown, the school has retained and refined the things that make it special. Things like the emphasis on learning through nature, play and creativity, a vibrant music program and learning about Noongar culture.

I really enjoy the wonder and excitement of the children as they learn about the natural world through the walkabout program and other nature based activities at Spirit Of Play. Living in the abundant and beautiful environment that we do here in Denmark it is wonderful to see it being utilised as not just a playground but as a stimulating learning environment.

One of the highlights of working at Spirit of Play is the wealth of knowledge and experience of the staff. Everyone has so much knowledge in their area of expertise from music through to science, permaculture and botany. It is wonderful to work in a supportive environment where everyone is on the same page.

I hope that the education offered by Spirit Of Play will ensure a generation of unique and socially responsible individuals who care for each other and their environment. I think the impact of this kind of learning can already be seen in the interests and knowledge of the older students at the school. I envisage that such empathy and wisdom will feed into the community of Denmark ensuring the emphasis on the environment, the arts and social well-being as the town grows.

I’d like to imagine that Spirit of Play will one day extend to the high school years so that students can attend for their entire schooling. I imagine a bustling and creative place where all ages intermingle, a school that is embedded in its environment and it’s community, a relationship of reciprocity – both receiving and sharing creativity and knowledge.


Melanie Trenow

 

The most influential teachers in my life have been my two children, Maya (16 years) and Jack (4 years). My passion for respectful parenting was sparked with the birth of Maya and led to my involvement in Child Side School and Playgroup (Boyanup, WA) in 2002. This involvement inspired my personal learning journey in education, and has led me on an interesting and varied career. I lived and taught in remote communities in the Pilbara and Northern Territory before moving to Denmark.

I was drawn to Spirit of Play when I decided to specialise in early childhood education in 2013, and I started teaching here this year. I appreciate working within a passionate and motivated community. I love the school’s strong focus on nature, play and Noongar culture. Meeting the needs of a diverse cohort of children challenges me. I am constantly reflecting on my practice and I appreciate the opportunity to learn and grow alongside our amazing children.


Claire Flottmann

 

When you come into the grounds of Spirit of Play, you are entering into a
very magical place where children grow into confident and active life-long
learners.

I was initially attracted to Spirit of Play because of the school’s ethos to
provide early years and primary education grounded in play, exploration,
nature, Noongar culture and creativity. As an avid hiker, I am continually
learning from being outdoors in nature and believe that nature provides a
pivotal learning opportunity for children to learn, explore and discover
our incredible world.

While studying my undergraduate degree in Law and Geography, I worked
part time at an early learning centre in Perth as an education assistant.
This sparked my passion for working with children and from there grew
my desire to continue working with children as a career. I returned to
university to complete a postgraduate diploma in teaching and I haven’t
looked back since.

Children offer a unique perspective of the world and listening to their
stories, interests and passions brings so much joy to each day. As I join the
Spirit of Play family this year, I am excited to learn and teach alongside a
wonderful community of children, parents and staff.


Merome Darvill

 

I came to Denmark in 2017 and my children Moana and Tasman attended Spirit of Play and I did EA relief work and surf coaching with the kids. We are totally loving our time here and have found the school to be wonderful,amazing, supportive, expansive…the list goes on!

My experience in schools so far has been as a Steiner playgroup leader and relief kindy assistant at
Yallingup Steiner School and a teachers assistant at Dunsborough Primary School and now I’m here at Spirit of Play.

Personally I love surfing, the ocean, nature, music, circles, outdoors and creating art. I am a face painter and qualified surf coach as well and having done some work with disabled people. I am a family person and love to be part of a community as well as the adventure and freedom of travel.


Natasha Rubie

 

I am feeling very fortunate to become a part of the Spirit crew. My first experience at Spirit of Play was during a practical component of my Bachelor of Education degree.

During this time, it became apparent that this school is special in the following ways: dedicated and passionate staff, supportive and proactive parents, confident and compassionate students, environmental and indigenous focus, child centred learning, and of course – the most picturesque setting for a school. During my studies I worked as an Education Assistant and also homeschooled my three children for eight years.

In 2016 I had a variety of experiences working as a relief and contract teacher. For the majority of 2017 I worked in Denmark in a Physical Education specialist role. My personal towards teaching is driven by authentic and situated learning, as well as creating opportunities for integrating curriculum content in meaningful ways.

I have four children of my own, the eldest being 24 and youngest is 15. My hobbies include anything artistic, reading, sport – especially soccer, surf club and surfing, gardening, bike riding and keeping fit. I love living in Denmark and feel so blessed that my children have been raised here.