International Women’s Day (March 8) has been occurring for well over a century, and one thing is for sure, it continues to grow from strength to strength.
At PARC, 76% of our staff are female, with 50% of Senior Managers being women, so to celebrate International Women’s Day, we’re doing a series of stories celebrating our Inspiring Women of PARC.
Our Marketing Specialist Jess de Araugo caught up with another inspiring woman Alyssa Danger.
Alyssa has been part of the PARC fam since 2015, transitioning from primary school teacher to swim school teacher. Alyssa was the 2016 PARC Swim Teacher of the Year and ARV Swim Teacher of the Year, and last year took out the Peninsula Leisure ‘We Reimagine’ Award for staff. Alyssa currently leads the School Program as the PARC Swim Schools Leader and is passionate about creating excitement in young children about water safety and building a lifelong love of the water.
Let’s meet Alyssa:
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I grew up on the Mornington Peninsula and developed my love of swimming and all things ‘water’ very early on, with fond memories of playing in the Somers creek, swimming in the backyard pool and water skiing at Balnarring or Safety Beach. I now enjoy sharing my favourite childhood beach spots with my husband, two kids and two dogs.
I was a keen swimmer through primary and high school, and enjoyed competing in interschool events at the Pines Forest Aquatic Centre which was ‘absolutely huge’ when I was kid. I remember winning some butterfly events, not because I was good at it, but because I was one of only a few young girls who could make it all the way to the end of the 50m pool!
I studied a Bachelor of Early Childhood Education at Monash University in Frankston and graduated in 2001, a year after I met my now husband Darryn. Being a primary school teacher confirmed my love of kids and they continue to be my favourite people! I taught grade three for four years, grade one and in my last year grade five whilst pregnant with my daughter. I was a stay at home mum for a few years and helped manage my husband’s building business and we had a son four years later. I tried to do some casual teaching but found this very difficult to juggle with having two kids. I tried a few other jobs but missed the joy of teaching terribly. It was watching my daughter in swimming lessons one evening that made me think about combining my love of the water and teaching and shortly after completing my Austswim course I began my journey at PARC as a swim teacher.
What was your dream job as a kid and why?
I wanted to be an architect or graphic designer as I love house plans and all things artistic!
Luckily my husband is a carpenter so there is never a shortage of house plans around the house now and I have a large stash of art supplies that would be the envy of any budding Picasso.
What do you love about your work?
The buzz! There’s nothing quite like it when the groups of school kids come through the door and the buzz of excitement ensues! My job is different every day and I can never predict the extraordinary things kids do or say in their lessons. It is so rewarding seeing the student’s confidence and capabilities grow in such a short time. I have a soft spot for the nervous beginners and really love it when a child goes from not wanting to get in the pool on day one, to squealing with delight at the end of the week.
Other parts of my job include overseeing the Infant Program at PARC and I enjoy watching our talented teachers pass on their knowledge and expertise through the parent and child classes.
It is heart-warming to see a child’s positive relationship with water develop from such a young age.
What’s something about you that most people wouldn’t know?
I spent a month in the desert of Northern Territory teaching in an aboriginal community. The whole school was red dirt, and no one wore shoes! I had to dodge the packs of wild dogs and carry a large stick on my walk to school each day. One of my favourite memories was having a young girl visiting our makeshift home every afternoon just to wash her hands with our ‘magic pump soap’! She also showed me where to find witchetty grubs and wild sweet potato in the middle of the desert.
What is the best and worst decision you’ve ever made?
Best: Having kids for sure!
Worst: Trying a Toblerone……now I can’t stop eating them!
How do you balance work and life responsibilities?
This is a challenge for me, and I am continually trying to ensure I find the right balance. I try to make time where I don’t think about work and ensure Sundays are dedicated family days. Weekend camping trips are a great escape and the lack of available technology ensures I can’t just ‘do a few things for work’.
The theme for international Women’s Day this year is #EachforEqual – What does that mean to you?
To me it is a good reminder that we are no better than any other person, we are just different. We are all capable of something and will achieve in life in different ways. We can ALL make the world a better place TOGETHER without hierarchy, judgement or gender divide.
What woman inspires you and why?
My beautiful friend. She has spent most of her life helping others in her career as nurse, often travelling to Bali to offer her services free of charge to assist in important surgeries funded by Australian charities. She supports her husband in running a health and fitness business and has nursed her ailing mother before she sadly passed recently. She herself has now been diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer and just recently bravely shaved her hair off. She has been sharing the journey of ups and downs with her friends and gives great insight into what it is like going through the tough treatments and regimens and the cost physically, mentally and financially on herself and her family. I have never met someone so positive, strong and full of fighting spirit. She is selfless, always thinking of others, analysing herself, giving advice, challenging thinking and is always an inspiration to me!
Thank you Alyssa, you are an inspiration to us!