My name is Olga Barrett. I was born in Russia and moved to Australia to my Aussie husband 12 years ago with my 6yo son when I was 29. Being a daughter of Geography and Biology teachers, I chose to be a teacher of English myself and absolutely loved working with students of various ages!
Having moved to Australia however, I realized I would have to start from scratch and find my niche. In my first year in Australia, I did a CELTA course at LaTrobe and started teaching English to international students at a language school in Melbourne. After 6 months our family moved overseas for my husband’s work and my career was manly home duties and having 2 more babies for the next 3 years. When we finally settled down back in Australia 7 years ago, I was in search of reinventing myself again! I always enjoyed being around children but I wasn’t sure where to start.
It almost happened so that my calling found me! I took our middle daughter, Lucy, (then 2,5) to a Gymbaroo class and walked out of it knowing exactly what I want to do for my work! I contacted the Gymbaroo Office in Kew, Melbourne and started my training with them. I was very lucky as they had a teaching vacancy in the company center and I was offered a job there. One of the reasons why I liked the program instantly was the fact that it makes so much sense and it really works for all kids. It works on all aspects of development and helps parents better understand what kids really need to achieve their full potential and later on do the best they can at school.
Soon after I started teaching, I told myself (and my hubby) that I want to have my own Gymbaroo center. But at the time it wasn’t quite possible.. There were no centers for sale within an hour’s drive from where we lived, a few family dramas and other obstacles didn’t allow my dream to come true. Then, 4,5 years ago we decided to have a sea change and move to Wallington on the Bellarine Peninsular. And it wasn’t until another year later that we were finally able to buy Geelong Gymbaroo.
My dream came true! I was ecstatic! But the next thing I realized was that my real challenges just started then! Running a business is nothing like working for someone else. Well, teaching jobs are never just the hours you spend “at the office”. With Gymbaroo, there are also hours of preparing for classes, thinking things over how to make it more interesting, how to decorate your classroom, how to set up equipment differently every 2 weeks, etc, etc. You cannot just go home after classes. But with running the business (especially at the beginning when every cent is counted) you get all of the above plus paperwork, marketing, staff managing, phone calls and emails that you need to answer promptly, updating equipment, buying and making new toys… Did I mention that I have 3 kids as well? Things were very busy. Still are! The first year was also full of surprises that weren’t very pleasant. The biggest one that comes naturally with “under new management” announcement, was the drop in enrollments. Although I kept all my staff, some people just preferred my predecessor and all I could do was to try even harder to establish myself as the new Gymbaroo Geelong face.
Now, looking back on all the challenges, I am so happy and forever grateful that my family (especially my dear husband) believed in me and supported me (emotionally, physically and financially) in achieving my dream. The best reward for me is to see families, not only bringing their 2nd, 3rd and 4th child to our classes but now 2nd generation of Gymbaroo kids! We now have a few kids whose Mum or Dad or Uncle ot Auntie used to attend the program back in the 80s. To me this is the best validation that I have chosen the best job!
There are still plenty of challenges for me with competition getting stronger and parents expecting more for their money. But I love doing what I do, I have great staff and the new challenges motivate me to always improve my professional skills and learn new things to be on top of it and continue delivering Geelong parents the best program there is for their children.
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