A mum-of-four with a passion for early childhood education is impacting the lives of hundreds of Nowra children.
Kristen Harford, 38, has been the facilitator of the Schools as Communities Centre at Bomaderry Public School for nearly two years, a centre supporting local families to enhance the early learning of children aged up to eight years old.
Mrs Harford, a proud Yuin woman, discovered her love of helping children learn while acting as a parent volunteer at Bomaderry Public in 2015.
"My time as a volunteer at Bomaderry really inspired me to go back and get more formal qualifications," Mrs Harford said.
"My job now is so rewarding and it's amazing to go home each day knowing you've helped a child progress."
Eager to re-enter the workforce after having her children, she enrolled in a Certificate III in Education Support and Certificate III in Business Administration after securing a role at the school as Student Learning Support Officer, completed a Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care.
Mrs Harford was acknowledged for her commitment to learning by being awarded a prestigious Gili Award in 2016. She was appointed as facilitator of the Schools as Communities Centre in mid-2019.
"It really is an amazing job and I wake up each morning so happy I'm going to work," she said.
"I love being able to create an inclusive and welcoming space for our local families and to assist in any support they may need regardless how small.
Mrs Harford credits her TAFE Nowra training and teachers for helping her thrive in her role.
"The teachers were incredibly supportive and they're not just boring courses where you look at Powerpoints all day; they're very animated, hands on and fun," she said.
TAFE NSW Nowra teacher Nerelye Ball congratulated Mrs Harford on her progression.
"I witnessed the transformation of Kristen from a shy and reserved young woman to a confident, proud, educated and professional Aboriginal woman," Ms Ball said.
"She's a great example of how students are able to get the skills for the job they want."