Early childhood teacher nominated for national award
BELINDA Russo was still a child herself when she decided a career with kids was for her.
Now, 15 years into her dream job as an early childhood educator, she's been recognised for her efforts.
The Paisley Park Urangan teacher has been named a finalist in the Educator of the Year category of the Australian Early Education and Care Awards.
Her bubbly nature, passion for helping kids and expertise makes her a perfect fit for a role with the responsibility of helping to shape young lives.
"I love my job and feel very lucky to be able to have an impact on these children," Ms Russo said.
"Development at their age is very important and plays an important part of their life."
Every day at the centre, she is greeted by young, smiling faces who are ready to play and learn.
"I feel like a celebrity coming in, they give a very big welcome," she said.
"You also get to make connections with families."
Ms Russo said a major criteria for successful childhood educators was getting the children school-ready.
This included excursions to places such as libraries and the centre's nearby primary school.
Ms Russo began working in the childcare sector after high school, completed relevant certificates while working and eventually gained a university qualification.
The long-time local is originally from Sydney, and moved here for a change of pace in lifestyle.
She'll find out tomorrow whether she is a state winner in the Australian Early Education and Care Awards.
The national winner will be announced next month.
This is Ms Russo's second nomination in the awards, as she also made the list last year.
Ms Russo is currently studying psychology which she hopes will enhance her skills as a teacher.