Sheena Heavey, recent graduate shares her inspirational journey to the beginning of an exciting new career armed with new qualifications after a busy academic year at Portobello Institute.
Before commencing her journey in the Early Years sector Sheena had been working for almost 30 years in the Financial Services Industry and was subsequently offered voluntary redundancy in October 2017. Sheena enjoyed her banking career and with 3 children admits that it was increasing difficult managing work life balance and felt she still had something else to offer.
Being a wife and mum of 3 meant Sheena was actively involved in her children’s after school activities both as a supporter of some activities and an active coach/manager of her daughters GAA Football team.
In addition, she spent a morning each week in more recent years (moving to a 4-day week) assisting children with reading difficulties in her son’s school. “The time spent with children really got me interested in children’s development and helping them reach their full potential with the area of Special Needs my prime interest”.
After detailed discussions with the college director Denise Flood at Portobello Institute Sheena understood the importance of having a full and rounded qualification to work in this rewarding sector which would open numerous doors.
Upon this advice Sheena enrolled on two significance programmes, ECCE Level 6 Montessori Pedagogy and SNA Level 6 Component Certificate. Initially, Sheena admits that she found the Tuesday evenings at the start a struggle. “As the weeks passed, this was the perfect schedule allowing her to complete assignments without affecting the time spent with my children”.
Sheena felt the time between learning and assignments enough to keep pressure at bay and allow her to complete a quality paper. “The more I learned that the more I wanted to learn so throughout the months of the course I embraced further reading as recommended and took opportunities to work with children on a voluntary basis – helping me in my studies and allowing me tailor my CV in the area of childcare”.
Sheena found the course to be very interesting with “class tutors Dolores Kelly and Jacinta Murphy both instrumental in keep me motivated to excel in my assignments”.
College support was strong; “I often contacted the tutors outside of class time and they were always willing to provide advice and guidance”. Sheena also notes she was particularly grateful to tutors taking the time to go through assignments before submission and providing feedback so that she could make any changes to improve quality of her work.
While Sheena did not pursue a career in Montessori Teaching, she enjoyed a number of weeks in the sector and believes that her chosen route as an SNA is fully enhanced having knowledge of the Montessori teaching method.
Sheena secured a role in her child’s local school as a Special Needs Assistant. “I believe also having the Major Award in ECCE and Montessori strengthens my profile and gave me the confidence to speak about my achievements and sell my full set of new early years skills to the school”.
Sheena confirms she hasn’t stopped learning and is considering taking on additional courses offered by Portobello Institute, however for 2019 she wants to enjoy the learning on the job.
“I look forward to a rewarding and challenging career in Early Childhood Care and Education over the coming years with the continued benefit of spending more time with my children”.