Family Ties: Proud mother and son teaching tots together

It’s little surprise local lad Joel Goodison grew up to become a kindergarten teacher – one way or another he’d always spent much of his early life in Raglan pre-schools, from playing and learning at the local kindy to later helping out at his parents’ childcare centres.

Throughout it all Joel’s remained “in touch with his own (inner) kid”, says his mum Merren, clearly proud to have one of her sons now teaching alongside her at Matapihi KIndergarten just off Te Mata Rd.

Joel’s transition from learning to working in education began when Merren and hubby Mike took the gamble back in the 90s and set up their first early childcare centre in a former bakery in downtown Wallis Street. “The boys all used to help out there after school and do their various jobs,” Merren explains.

Those “boys” – now 30-somethings – are the couple’s own three children of whom Joel is the youngest. Their “jobs” included not only entertaining their young charges but also helping clean up at the end of each teaching day.

“They became very good at both,” Merren recalls. A full-on Goodison family commitment went into running Raglan’s first early childcare and education centre.

Fast forward to the family’s second venture, Matapihi – where pre-schoolers play and learn in an idyllic eight acres of native bush – and Joel’s still around. He’s now fully trained, having worked there three days a week while completing his three-year ECE teaching degree through Wintec.

He’s also undertaken a five-week teacher exchange at a Perth area school.

He reckons there were only three or four males among the 90 students in his Wintec intake, but adds “we’re now definitely seeing an increase in males in the early childhood sector”.

Joel’s passionate about teaching and says that growing up in the childcare environment “laid the foundations for where I am today, in this community especially”.

“I’m pretty into the cleaning too,” he laughs.

Joel – who these days sports something of a hipster look – reckons the close working relationship he shares with his mother has always been fine for him and that she is his role model as a teacher.

“But he does a much better job than I do,” Merren interjects.

Joel points out the teaching team at Matapihi has been of benefit to him too, with most of its current staff members  – like co-owner/manager Angela Kimber and teacher Lindy Moir – having been around from way back.

Merren says they’ve all been “very supportive … full of enthusiasm”  and that Joel has in turn become a valued member of the teaching team. “I love working with him, he does a fantastic job.”

Meantime back at the Goodison home in Upper Wainui Rd Joel’s oldest brother Jed works alongside their father, a draughtsman, further extending the familial ties.

Jed also studied at Wintec and is now a qualified architectural draughtsman.

While Mike used to do all the work himself on a drawing board from his home office he wasn’t too keen to become computer savvy, Merren explains. So Jed has now taken over that side of things while Mike liaises and organises the jobs. “They’re both happy in their roles.”

Joel and Jed meanwhile have a family tie all their own: the pair decided four years ago to beat the predicted rise in Raglan prices by buying a house to share.

However they return to the nest for family occasions which can include grandparents living close by at the local resthome and also their brother Sean, a board game designer back from overseas.

There are also those odd jobs around the family home that have got to be done, like moving a few piles of firewood. “We lend a hand when needed,” says Joel. “It’s all part of living in a small town.”

Edith Symes