Focus on pandemic safety rewarded

Helen Zagolin is the manager of the St Albans Main Road East Early Learning Centre that won an award. Photo by Damjan Janevski. 228768_02

Tara Murray

Helen Zagolin is still pinching herself after taking out an education safety award.

Ms Zagolin, the manager at St Albans Main Road East Early Learning Centre, was among other educators who tuned into the G8 Education awards virtual online presentation last week.

She said she was pleasantly surprised when she was announced as the winner of the National Stand Out Educator Award for Safety, selected from more than 10,000 educators.

Ms Zagolin won the award for her efforts through the COVID-19 pandemic and a blemish free safety and compliance record over the past two years.

“I’m surprised, I didn’t think it would be me,” she said.

“I won the region award in September, so I didn’t think I would win this one as well.

“When I heard my name I was over the moon. I’m really proud and honoured to win it.”

Ms Zagolin said she does her best to ensure the wellbeing and health and safety for herself, her team, the educators, the children and anyone else who comes into the centre.

G8 chief executive Gary Carroll said Ms Zagolin had gone well beyond the job description to ensure the

children in her care and their extended families were safe, informed and assured during the worst days of the pandemic.

“Safety is always the utmost priority in early childhood education and care but nobody could have expected the extreme challenges that the pandemic brought to the sector in 2020,” said Mr Carroll.

“COVID-19 infections were soaring in the St Albans area and Helen was meticulous in implementing policies and practices that kept her children and team members safe.

“Helen displayed exceptional leadership qualities but it was her unwavering determination to

protect the wider family of children, families, educators and community that spoke loudest.”

Ms Zagolin said the award didn’t change her focus.

“I just want to continue to do our best and continue the standard with everyone safe all the time.”