Thirty years ago, Jeanine Goodwin did her first shift at Katoomba Leura Pre-school.

Thirty years ago this week, Jeanine Goodwin did her first shift at Katoomba Leura Pre-school.

Good listener: Jeanine Goodwin with Ava (at rear), Alia and Vivian in a boat in the back yard of Katoomba Leura Preschool.

Good listener: Jeanine Goodwin with Ava (at rear), Alia and Vivian in a boat in the back yard of Katoomba Leura Preschool.

And she's still going strong.

Beanie, as she is known to the children, is now seeing another generation as some of her old charges become parents.

With four children of her own, and now five grandchildren, she is an expert in the field.

"All of my children came here. I just mentioned one day to one of the teachers that this must be a beautiful place to work. They said do you want to volunteer.

"I was a young spring chicken of 30," she said. "Never in my wildest dreams did I think this would go on for 30 years."

She loves the centre, where it feels like a "sisterhood" between staff. And she loves the children.

"There's never a dull moment. They're imaginative and inquisitive. Just when you think you've got everything in place, they take you in another direction."

I just take them aside and listen.

Jeanine Goodwin

The key to dealing with three- to five-year-olds is to listen, Mrs Goodwin said. It they are angry or sad or acting up, there's usually a reason for it.

"I just take them aside and listen. Take a breath and let them do the talking. The most gratifying thing is for you to be nurturing and make the child feel safe."

Mrs Goodwin is effusive in her praise for the centre's director, Alison Staniford.

"She's just full of enthusiasm. And she comes up with different ways to do things all the time. Staff love it."

The feeling is reciprocated. Mrs Staniford said her longest-serving worker was the centre's "very own treasure".

"Jeanine's kindness, enthusiasm and love shine through in all of her relationships whether with children, families or those of us who have the pleasure of working with her.

"'Beanie' has worked alongside thousands of children as a guide, mentor and friend, and her ability to listen, observe and connect has allowed her to create meaningful bonds with children who have then gone on to bring their own children to her classroom."

The centre stayed open during the coronavirus pandemic, providing much needed care for the children of essential workers.

They also did regular Zoom meetings with parents whose children stayed home. The parents were very grateful, Mrs Goodwin said. "Sometimes they really needed to talk to an adult."

Mrs Goodwin is going to work for one more year before retiring to enjoy some time with her own little ones - her five grandchildren.