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Getting to know the ‘Mother Hen’

✦ Meg Barnden-Hyde knew from a very early age what she wanted to do career wise when she grew up.


She would work with children, helping them develop, nurturing their natural skills and abilities to become the very best versions of themselves. She always knew it was what she was good at and what she therefore wanted and needed to do, never once wavering from her decision.


It therefore comes as no great surprise to learn that over the past 13 years the much loved and respected centre manager at TG’s Child Care in Armidale has become known as ‘Mother Hen’. She has an innate ability to bring the best out in others, to help, support and develop, something all those under her watch over the years will gladly bear testimony to.

Meg first joined the TG’s family back in 2009 and, with founder Gayle Kee and her husband Trevor, has been helping grow the business into a trusted and successful pillar of the community across the current six centres in NSW and Queensland ever since.


Meg Barden-Hyde, Centre Manager
Meg Barden-Hyde, TG's Child Care, NSW State Manager

Not many people have such a clear focus and conviction of what they want to do with their lives at an early age but for Meg it was never in question. “I love to interact with young children, always have done,” she replies without hesitation when asked why she decided to pursue her particular career path.


“From a very early age I always knew I wanted to be a pre-school teacher,” she adds. “Children are just incredible and have so much to offer. I am forever learning from them so working with them is a dream come true and certainly no one day is the same! Being a part of the process in nurturing and supporting young children to develop and reach their full potential is an amazing gift,” she says with glowing pride.


Open Your Frame


Proudly Uralla born and bred, Meg took on a variety of jobs in order to fund her studies at the University of New England in Armidale. “I cleaned the local Golf club worked at the local pub, pumped petrol at the local gas station and worked a number of retail jobs,” she recalls.


The nature of her work at this time wasn’t largely relevant as it was merely done to accrue the funds to ensure she could attain her educational qualifications, something she never waivered from. However, interestingly, it also provides an insight into the kind of person Meg is and why her style has proven so successful over the years.


“Open Your Frame” is a term you’re likely to hear amongst the staff at TG’s. Essentially it means be open to new things, try new approaches and absorb different and new ways of thinking – be a sponge, if you like! Despite being steadfast on her career choice, Meg taking on such a wide array of jobs at an early age is an example of this - of being willing to challenge oneself and not being afraid to try something different. Variety is the spice of life after all, so the saying goes!

Meg always wanted to be a pre-school teacher - TG's Child Care as featured in Brilliant-Online
Meg always wanted to be a pre-school teacher

Upon graduating Meg moved away from Uralla for a while. Upon returning to her hometown, she realised it was blatantly obvious that a top quality pre-school centre service was needed within the community. Coincidence or otherwise, it wasn’t long before she learned that Gayle and Trevor were planning on setting up a TG’s centre.


Like a woman on a mission, Meg immediately knocked on Gayle’s door, handed over her CV and said “I want to work for you!” The bold approach worked and 13 years later Meg has been an integral cog in the business flourishing to its current status.


The Secret of Success


Meg now oversees 5 centres across NSW including Armidale, Uralla, Wauchope (Hastings St., High St. and Riverbreeze) and supports the QLD centre in Urangan and with a staff of 160 educators across all six centres, only three of whom are male. When I ask what the secret is behind the success of TG’s, Meg is quick to point to the unique culture that has been created and fostered over the years.


“We place huge importance on building relationships, both internally with our staff and externally with the families and their children,” she explains.



“We interact fully with the community which is really important,” she adds. “We welcome families into the centre but also reach out to the community to maximise inclusivity. This has helped create a robust level of trust and respect, which is paramount in any business but especially important in early childhood education.

We regard TG’s Educators, the children we teach and their families as one big happy family and as a cornerstone of the community, something that we believe has contributed whole-heartedly to our excellent reputation.



“We also fully respect and trust our educators, which is so important,” Meg explains. “We encourage everyone to show initiative, be open, ask questions, to give and absorb feedback. It creates a process whereby we are all constantly learning, from new approaches and from each other.”




Naidoc week TG's Child Care Armidale as featured in Brilliant-Online
Meg, Nik and Maddi attended Minimbah Preschool Primary School Aboriginal Corporation NAIDOC community open day

Talk about COVID-19 and there won’t be many people who find positives. However, in a strange way, the pandemic actually worked in the favour of TG’s in many respects. Intrigued, I ask Meg to elaborate.


“There were multiple ways in which it actually benefited us and forced us to evolve for the better,” she says. “A trend nationwide during the pandemic was for people to leave their big city lifestyle and retreat back to their home communities, usually to be nearer family but also knowing that the majority of jobs could be conducted remotely.


“This meant that the number of people with young families that needed childcare increased dramatically across our six locations. This was good for us as it meant we remained busy but it was also good for the broader community as the increase in residents kept many local busiesses afloat during testing times.


“Additionally, many of our clients are those involved in the frontline emergency services, such as doctors and nurses, who simply had to be at work and therefore needed care for their children. All in all this meant we were running at full capacity all throughout the pandemic at all of our centres and we now have an 18-month waitlist for places, such is the demand.”


An envious position to be in from a burgeoning business perspective I suggest, surely meaning that further expansion plans are afoot, to which Meg smiles are merely says, “development plans are in the pipeline.” Watch this space!



Tech-Savvy


COVID also meant a slight change in the way the business operated as technology became much more of a dominant factor. It meant all centres could keep in contact and support each other with decisions and wellbeing, with Zoom calls instead being set up to maintain daily contact, but it didn’t mean the personal touch was diminished, something so critical to the culture of the business, as previously alluded to.


“We would conduct calls everyday with all the centres to check in on the educators, to make sure everything was running smoothly but also to maintain that personal touch, to keep people’s spirits up during tough times,” Meg says.


“It meant we had to adapt and evolve as a business, to move with the times and embrace the benefits of technology,” she adds, admitting that she personally learned a lot more about the dynamics and merits of technology. “It was actually really great as so many of our clients are of a younger generation who are completely tech-literate, so taking this on board and becoming more aware has been really beneficial, for me personally and for the business.”


Collaboration creates new things
Collaboration creates new things

It also illustrated the TG’s ethos of constantly learning and opening up to new things. Meg tackling a subject she wasn’t previously totally accustomed to and becoming more tech-savvy was her demonstrating to her educators first-hand that you always need to be that sponge, of her practicing in action what she and the business preaches.


Finally, I ask Meg to explain her moniker of ‘Mother Hen’.


“I guess it is because I have been here as long as I have and many of the staff are from a younger generation,” she replies with a smile. “But also, on a more serious note, I think it is because of my approach. I want everyone to feel at home, to feel valued and loved. As previously mentioned, as a business TG’s places huge importance on connecting with and supporting people; we are driven by our values of love, trust and compassion. I like to think when you value people and their skills then this is reciprocated and they value you equally in return. We want our educators to not just enjoy but love their work, to love coming in everyday to do something they truly value, which I genuinely believe all our employees do.

“I have watched many educators grow and develop over the years into wonderfully confident and adept individuals, which is so rewarding. I am so proud of them all,” she concudes with a smile.


Meg should rightfully be very proud of the brood of educators she has helped develop over the years as there is no doubt TG’s is eternally proud and grateful to their ‘Mother Hen’.




 











Contact

TG's Child Care locations and contact details


Urangan QLD

61 Miller St, Urangan, QLD 4655


Armidale NSW

11 Samuelson Crescent, Armidale NSW 2350


Uralla NSW

23B John St, Uralla NSW 2358


Wauchope - Hastings St NSW

33B Hastings St, Wauchope NSW 2446


Wauchope - High St NSW

223A High St, Wauchope NSW 2446


Wauchope - Riverbreeze NSW

3 Riverbreeze Drive, Wauchope NSW 2446

 

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