The Story Behind Essence

Louise Thomas

Approved Provider | Over 33 years in the Industry

Louise started in early childhood education in 1990 and grew up aspiring to work with children from a very young age, it was like it was her destiny to follow this path.

Louise has worked in various capacities from an educator through to a childcare Director to that of an Operations Manager for Community centres, small private organisations as well as three large National corporate childcare companies.

Louise has also held positions as a registered training organisation supervisor for one of Australia's largest childcare companies. Over the last 10 years has had her own successful business assisting small centre operators to run inspiring early learning services that are dedicated to providing high quality care for our future generation.

As Louise is dedicated to the future direction of early learning for children under the age of 5 years. She is a volunteer committee member on the Australian Child Care Alliance Association QLD (ACA) and has been since September 2015 and is also on the board for the College for Australian Early Childhood Educators (CAECE). By having had this extensive experience it has really made Louise understand the value of understanding the daily requirements from a front of centre approach who is trained in the field.

Louise knows the children, families and educators personally, knowing what they need to ensure that they don't just feel like a number. Being an owner operator means that flexibility and care is at the forefront where real connections are made, and a real community feel can be facilitated. Educators are supported, listened to and genuinely valued to ensure they are at their best to deliver the education and care on a daily basis.

At Essence we are about relationships and building strong lifelong learning to set children up with the best start to life.

Melissa Watts

Nominated Supervisor Nerang I Over 25 years in the Industry

Melissa has dedicated her whole career to working in Early Childhood and is a genuine caring educator, leader and mentor at Essence Early Learning Nerang.

Melissa has an Advanced Diploma in Early Childhood Education and is as qualified Abecedarian coach. She consistently improves her skills through professional development opportunities.

Actively involved in the community, Melissa fosters connections with local organisations and external agencies to provide comprehensive support to children and families. 

Having spent most of her career at our centre in Nerang, Melissa's commitment to the community is unwavering, reflecting her genuine passion for supporting the holistic development of children and families.

Shanelle Makowiecki

Nominated Supervisor Mackay I Over 10 years in the industry

Shanelle is our passionate Nominated Supervisor at Essence Early Learning Mackay.

Her commitment as a caring mentor, educator, and leader greatly influences the nurturing environment we provide for our children, families, and team.

Having been immersed in the early childhood sector from a young age through her family's involvement, Shanelle began as a trainee educator. Her journey led to a Diploma in Early Education, enhancing her leadership role with invaluable knowledge and expertise.

With five years at our Nerang Essence centre on the Gold Coast, Shanelle eagerly embraced the move to establish our Essence Mackay service in 2023.

Her extensive experience and unwavering dedication are essential in maintaining our centre's values, ensuring quality care and education for every child.


Donna Anderson

Operations Support | Over 25 years in the industry

Donna is our Centre Support Manager who is always on hand to support and mentor our team.

Donna has been emersed in the industry for over 25 years and is passionate about instilling high quality practices within our service.

Donna is a Bachelor Qualified Early Childhood Teacher who actively supports our curriculum practices, enriching them with her wealth of experience and knowledge.

Donna has worked in all levels of Early Childhood, so she deeply understands the importance of supporting educators on the floor in their vital roles.

We're extremely fortunate to have Donna's added support at our service.

Kylie Winstanley

Operations Support | Over 25 years in the industry

Kylie is our Operations Support Manager who is always ready to assist and guide our team, enhancing our service with her knowledge and expertise.

Kylie has over 25 years of experience in the early childhood industry and is passionate about fostering quality practices within our service.

She holds a Bachelor of Human Services, child and family studies with a specialization in Human Resource Management, along with a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment.

Kylie is well-equipped to assist our team in providing high quality education and care to our children and families.

Kylie has worked on all levels within the Early Childhood industry, so she understands the importance of supporting our educators in their crucial roles. 

We are grateful to have this extra support at our service.


Claudia Walls

Educational leader - Nerang | Over 5 years in the Industry

 Claudia holds a Diploma in Early Childhood Education and Care. She is the Educational Leader at Essence Early Learning Nerang.

As an educator, she enjoys building strong relationships with families and children, building a natural connection in meeting safe, nurturing and respectful relationships.

Claudia enjoys planning hands on experiences for the children, enabling them to use all their five senses in exploring the world around them and discovering a strong sense of identity.

Claudia naturally has a deep care with connecting to children to ensure they are supported throughout their developmental stages in an enriching and professional environment.

Claudia supports creativity, and enjoy building a visual environment, and believe this is the building blocks to optimise children’s learning and enhance their creativity. 
The contagious laughs and smiles from the children are what makes her job very rewarding.

Melanie Davidson 

Early Childhood Teacher & Educational Leader - Mackay | Over 18 years in the Industry

Melanie is the Early Childhood Teacher and Educational Leader at Essence Early Learning in Mackay, bringing with her 18 years of experience in early childhood education.

As an educator, she holds a strong belief that every child and family should be treated with respect, valuing cultural diversity and celebrating each individual's uniqueness.

Melanie understands the pivotal role the environment plays in early childhood development. Through a nurturing, play-based learning setting, she ensures that every child has the opportunity to flourish and develop independence.

Melaine's main goal is to establish a kindergarten environment that equips every child with the readiness for school by the end of their early childhood experience, enabling them to tackle life's challenges with confidence and independence.

Aimee-Jo  Moore

Early Childhood Teacher | Over 10 years in the Industry

Aimee-Jo is the Early Childhood Teacher at Essence Early Learning Nerang. She has been in Early Education industry for over 10 years.

As an Early Childhood professional, she believes the environment plays a major role in the success of an early childhood program, as it enhances the children’s interests in all developmental domains. She believes learning in an early childhood environment is successfully delivered through stations that can be visited, explored, and revisited again and again. The environment should provide opportunities for children to explore, discover, create, and imagine.

Amiee's goal is to form positive, caring, and trustworthy relationships with children and families as she believes this plays a significant role towards children’s happiness and development. Amiee constantly creates an environment where each child feels involved and valued, respecting children’s cultural diversity and abilities.

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