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Andrea cropped copy

Company Director

After several years working as a qualified Early Childhood educator and leader in Brisbane, Andrea co-founded First Door in 2012. Her energy and commitment to create a training organisation was fuelled by her passion to develop capability in educators and leaders, and to support them to provide exceptional education and care for children. 

Andrea is a strong advocate for the National Quality Framework, and is an ongoing learner and avid researcher. She has also experienced several years of Early Childhood Education in New Zealand, and been influenced by visiting Bush Kindys in Australia and Forest Kindergartens in Norway and California. As a result, First Door promotes respectful practice that nurtures emotional security and promotes active learning in a play-based, natural childhood. Andrea ignites fresh purpose and pedagogy through her ability to share understanding of relevant research, leading approaches; and, the philosophy, environments and practices of services rated Exceeding the NQS, and at centres rated Excellent by ACECQA. 

Andrea’s career in leadership and Early Childhood education began in 1992, as the founder and Director of the franchised Company ‘The Learning Years Ltd’ that promoted parents as first teachers. She has extensive experience in training and developing people, teams and businesses, with a focus on shared vision, collaboration and growth. Andrea is qualified with a Diploma in Early Childhood, a Diploma of Leadership and Management, Certificate lV in Training and Assessment, and a Bachelor of Training and Development.


Jodie Taylor

Early Childhood Mentor & Assessor

Jodie knew right from the moment she did her high school work experience in an Early Childhood service, that this was the profession for her! Now she has almost 20 years’ experience in roles varying from being a nanny, a qualified educator, to acting centre manager, and being a qualified trainer and assessor. It was while Jodie completed her own study, she realised how important it is to have that support person you can go to for questions and assistance on your path to becoming the best educator you can be.

There were many aspects that Jodie enjoyed in all her roles, but a particular highlight for her was always mentoring students. Jodie is dedicated to ensuring educators are driven by passion for their role and a deep respect for children, with the skills and knowledge to help guide and nurture children throughout their learning in Early Childhood. Jodie shares passion, knowledge and care as a mentor and assessor to support our students' success.

Family is very important to Jodie, even more so since having her own daughter. She loves travelling and being in nature, so you will usually find her with family and friends exploring the great outdoors on the weekends. They have already begun to instil this love of nature in their little one, so that she grows up wanting to explore and protect this beautiful place we are fortunate to call home!


Kim Thomas

Early Childhood Mentor and Assessor

As a mentor and assessor for First Door, Kim is dedicated to supporting each of her student’s success, from the enrolment welcome process all the way to their graduation. Her focus and commitment is to inspire students to grow in confidence, knowledge and skills so they can flourish in their role as an educator.

Kim’s career in Early Childhood education and care has spanned over 25 years, being qualified with a Diploma in Early Childhood Education and Care, and Certificate IV in Training and Assessment. Starting as an educator in Family Day Care, Kim became a Coordinator/Nominated Supervisor from 2012, and an Early Childhood trainer and assessor from 2019.

Kim has enjoyed monitoring and supporting educators to create wonderful learning environments for children for more than 10 years. She is motivated by her career purpose to support educators to lead the way in exceeding quality education and care, for the long term benefit in children’s lives.


Natalie Clark

Early Childhood Mentor & Assessor

Natalie has been in the Early Childhood Education and Care profession for the past 9 years, and values that her work and career is loaded with purpose and reward. During this time, she has worked as an educator and in leading roles with children of all age groups from 0 to 5 years, both in small and large services. Natalie is inspired by the Reggio Emilia philosophy and loves to create engaging and active learning environments.

During her leadership roles in services, Natalie enjoyed being able to support other educators in both a practical and theoretical sense. Since having her daughter, she decided to follow her passion to mentor others to provide quality education and care, and commenced her journey into becoming an early childhood trainer and assessor in 2019.

Natalie’s previous roles in training and assessing have provided her with the opportunity to work with international students with English as a second language and learners with additional needs. She has developed the ability to support learners individual learning styles and enjoys being a part of each learner’s success. Natalie is dedicated to supporting educators and teams on their learning journey to be their professional best, and to become an advocate for young children.


Nikki Ray-Smith

Early Childhood Mentor & Assessor

“Every child needs a champion”, Rita Pierson.

I began my Early Childhood career at a young age, learning through a school-based subject. I was motivated by my growing passion for the early childhood profession to pursue a Bachelor of Early Childhood Education and Care. As a University Ambassador for the Early Years, I found fulfillment in advocating for the importance of quality early childhood education. I recognised the value of role modelling and redirected my roles to complete a Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care and then my Certificate IV in Training and Assessing.

Today, I am committed to supporting educators' professional development and advocating for high-quality care for children and families. In my role as a Mentor and Assessor, I thrive when I witness the educators that I support having those 'a-ha' moments, connecting theory with practice. I strive for continuous improvement, and I also hold a Diploma of Vocational Education and Training and a Diploma of Training Design and Development. It is my firm belief that nurturing and empowering educators ultimately fosters the best quality care for future generations.


Amber Nofal

Student Coordinator & Administrator

Amber is our super star Student Coordinator and Administrator. She has a Bachelor of Fine Arts, Dance Performance and has performed within Australia. She is a qualified dance teacher and teaches dance to children ages 3 to adults. Amber thrives on being organised and is well experienced in business and financial processes.

With her ‘can do’ attitude, Amber brings commitment, a focused approach, customer service and attention to detail to her role with First Door. Amber is very approachable and supportive to all First Door stakeholders. She enjoys helping new students transition to student life and to succeed in their student journey with First Door. Amber is very aligned to First Door values and is excited to be part of a team where our work supports quality education and care, so that children flourish.


Vera Ibrahim


Vera supports our team and our students' experience by focusing on First Door's effective and efficient administrative processes. Her positive mindset and very high work ethic shine through in all that she does, and Vera is a much appreciated support for our Student Coordinator and the Company Director.

Vera is studying a Bachelor of Occupational Therapy, following completing Year 12 with outstanding results. Her core values fully align with First Door's values and mission so she is a wonderful fit in our team. Vera is delighted to be contributing to the early childhood profession through her work with First Door as she understands the importance ofhigh quality early childhood education and care.


Justine 200

eLearning facilitator

Justine is qualified with a Bachelor of Business Communication, a Diploma in Early Childhood Education and Care, and as a Trainer and Assessor. Justine’s extensive skills can be attributed to her experience in various roles across diverse professions; including 14 years providing, promoting, and facilitating high quality Early Childhood Education and Care.

Justine always felt a strong pull to the Early Childhood profession and after finishing a business degree decided to commence her Early Childhood study. Starting as an Assistant Educator, Justine saw first-hand how warm interactions and encouraging language positively impacted the behaviour and development of the children; and this became the foundation of her future early childhood career. She very quickly recognised the importance for ongoing learning and would seek out ways to gain more experience, understand new practices, and follow emerging trends. Within a short period, Justine became a Lead Educator and soon after an Assistant Director.

Justine has worked in small and large centres, both brand new and well established. She is currently studying towards her Bachelor of Education (Early Childhood and Primary).

As an eLearning faciliatator for First Door, Justine supports educators' professional learning and First Door students with the tools and knowledge to be confident, capable educators. Justine measures her own success on her ability to inspire educators to strive to provide excellent quality education and care to children, and to do so with genuine pride and passion.


Chrissy cropped best

eLearning Facilitator

Chrissy is a passionate, creative and qualified early childhood educator with over 20 years experience working with children, families, educators and stakeholders. She has worked in the capacity of educator, group leader, educational leader, assistant director, director, educational consultant and early childhood trainer and assessor, spanning her entire career. Chrissy comes with a vastly knowledgeable, hands-on approach to facilitating professional learning, and is qualified with a Certificate lV in Training and Assessment. 

Chrissy brings a wealth of warmth and innovation to her work; believing that early childhood is a uniquely rich time, filled with awe, wonder and incredible growth. She has a strong focus on creative programming, developing enriching environments and inspiring collaborative change in teams. Complimenting her work in Early Childhood education, she also is a professional artist and shares creative approaches to learning. 



Narelle4For the past 25 years, Narelle has been a dedicated and passionate educator, teacher and Director at Bribie Island Community Kindergarten. Over these years, Narelle and her team have crafted a true Community Kindergarten, that is a magical place for children to experience a natural childhood. This Kindergarten has been awarded the Excellent rating by the Australian Children's Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA). 
We are delighted that Narelle is partnering with First Door to share their journey to excellence with Early Childhood educators and leaders, through filming and professional conversations together.
See Bribie Island Community Kindergarten website

GOODSTART EARLY LEARNING RED HILL (Renee Mitchell) Renee Mitchell cropped
Goodstart Early Learning Red Hill partnered with First Door in 2022, and is a small community based service located along the banks of Ithaca Creek, just 10 minutes outside Brisbane’s CBD.

The philosophy at Red Hill is inspired by RIE, Forest Schools, Reggio, Montessori and Steiner, with a rich underlying social and emotional curriculum to complement their play based programs. Children aged 15 months to school aged join the community WNDER project, where children wander in their local community, wondering about the things and places they find along the way.

With a vision of ‘Nothing without Joy” strong embedded values “We are safe, we are kind and we are fair” and a Children’s Council of children to inform the decisions being made at the service, Red Hill provides children with active citizenship of their community.

See Goodstart Red Hill Facebook page


Northpine Christian College Childcare & Early Learning Centre have worked in partnership with First Door as their preferred RTO, since 2014. During this time, they have supported the professional development of many apprentices, school-based trainees, educators and leaders to become qualified with First Door. Their team is using the Team learning toolkit: Protect · Rethink · Transform & Flourish to promote continuous quality improvement.

We are delighted to share this team's journey to develop their outdoor, natural environment - for children to engage in self-directed and play-based learning. They have successfully transitioned from having separate outdoor playgrounds based on age groups, to one large open play area with challenge for children of mixed ages. Children explore, create and develop self-skills, social skills and life skills in bush kindy in a nearby natural space.


our place play school faviconThis 25 place infant and toddler centre was purpose built, and opened in 2018 with a strong vision to provide an authentic, natural, relaxed and caring space - for children to be free to be children. Their play-based curriculum is influenced by a variety of leading Early Childhood researchers, advocates and theorists such as Emmi Pikler, Magda Gerber, Peter Gray, Pennie Brownlee, Angela Hanscom, Brofenbrenner, Piaget and Schematic play theories.
The partnership with First Door was formed through a strong alignment in philosophy to promote natural childhoods with authentic learning; and, kindness through relationships with children, families and community. First Door is grateful to be able to share their photographs of authentic learning and relationships in our professional learning and Early Childhood community.
See Our Place Play School website



Carrie Rose bio photo

Carrie Rose is a qualified Early Childhood Teacher with over 30 years experience. She previously was the Approved Provider and Pedagogical Leader at Rosie’s Early Learning for almost 15 years (2008 – 2022). Rosie's Early Learning was rated EXCELLENT from ACECQA in 2016 and then a second time in 2019.
Professionally Carrie has engaged in 2 study tours to the Schools of Reggio Emilia (Italy) in 2000 & 2012. Carrie has written and published articles and books sharing knowledge and experience of her early childhood journey. Her second publication ‘Democratic Pedagogy – A Pracademic’s Narrative’ intertwines Early Childhood theory with project documentation. The ROSE Way planning framework was launched in 2019 and is a guiding framework for inquiry based pedagogy.
Carrie is committed to the development of early childhood education in Australia, and is passionate about supporting early learning services and educators to raise the bar in quality, and in turn creating great outcomes for young children in Australia.

CINDY DONALDCindy and Andrea web

Cindy has made a huge contribution to First Door as Co-founder and Director during its first four years. Since First Door Training and Development Pty. Ltd. was formed in 2012, Cindy and Andrea's joint vision was to provide quality Nationally Recognised Training and to be 'leaders in developing capability'. Our First Door value 'Exceed' is a tribute to Cindy's ethos as Co-founder and is held accountable in our team's work practice.

CLARE CAROClare Caro web

Clare Caro is the founder of The Pikler Collection, Nature Play® (UK) and Authentic Learning Environment. As an ongoing learner, researcher and writer, her wealth of insightful knowledge is shared through her websites and in workshops. Clare embodies this knowledge and shares practical application through Nature Play groups, and in every day life and pedagogy with her own two daughters.
See: www.clarecaro.co.uk


aecwpb web logo

ECW is Australia's professional body for Education and Care practitioners; working to connect, inform and elevate this workforce. ECW works collaboratively to support educators to share their collective practice wisdom and to speak up about issues that matter. Together, we are working to recognise, value and elevate the professional image of all Education and Care practitioners. 
See ECW website  


Goothala has worked with organisations, schools and community groups around Queensland since 2003. He promotes understanding, educating people and groups about Aboriginal spirituality, cultural practices, teachings and connecting to Mother Earth.

See  Spirit Circles Ancient Wisdom

NIKI BUCHAN - International Educational Consultant

Niki Buchan web image

Niki has lived and worked in South Africa, Scotland, and in Australia since 2011. She has a great love for the outdoors and has been sharing this in her work with both adults and children for more than 38 years.  She is considered a leading voice in promoting Nature-based practice and is the author of “Children in Wild Nature”“A Practical Approach to Nature-based Practice”“Adventurous Play” and STEM Detectives. Niki has worked internationally as a conference keynote speaker, nature pedagogue, mentor and author. 
Niki’s partnership with First Door was formed through our connection in advocating for children to have a quality and natural childhood, with the right to play and learn outdoors in nature. Our work promotes children to be trusted as capable so they are active learners, with the support of skilled educators. Niki is a contributor to First Door’s online courses for professional learning and Early Childhood qualifications. We also have exciting plans to develop an Outdoor Natural Learning course together, to support educators with purpose and skills to get more children engaged in natural learning outdoors.


Phoenix Cups logo website

First Door is a licenced Phoenix Cups affiliate. The Phoenix Cups framework is used in some parts of our workshops and online courses as a model for understanding behaviour relating to basic human life needs.

Stephen Gallen cropped

Stephen is a consultant and teacher who has over 30 years of roles and experience in Early Childhood Education and Care. Stephen has supported educators in their professional development since 1999, and is currently the Director/ECT at Cawongla Play House. In First Door's online course 'Transforming Pedagogy for authentic learning' Stephen shares conversations and practical examples of authentic learning, agency and theoretical perspectives in action within every day curriculum at Cawongla Play House.


Zee creatives logo

ZEE Creatives create an impactful story to captivate the audience, through their eye for capturing the message with beauty and emotion. Their team bring a fresh perspective of storytelling through creative videography and by understanding their customer. We love working with ZEE Creatives to share First Door's videos.
See: ZEE Creatives website