Bea Van Roy knew she wanted to work with children, even when she was young.
Growing up the youngest of 10 children in Holland, Van Roy became an aunt when she was eight years old and would often look after her nieces and nephews who were only a few years younger than her.
She also babysat children in the neighbourhood, took them to local activities such as gymnastics, and volunteered at local daycares, trying to spend as much time with children as possible.
Van Roy went on to graduate from a three-year post-secondary child youth care course, where she fell in love with the industry, before immigrating to Canada in 1995.
Despite living in different cities in B.C., Van Roy’s love for children never faltered.
She worked in several daycares in Cranbrook for 12 years, before eventually settling in Victoria.
For the past nine years, Van Roy has worked at Centennial Day Care on Hillside Avenue, working with children between the ages of three to five. She’s now being recognized nationally for her 35 years in the field.
Her job begins with setting up activities and interacting with children, planning field trips or walks and collaborating with the three other daycare workers.
In the digital age where many schools are incorporating tablets into daily routines, Van Roy prefers a more traditional approach to teaching — taking children on walks or hikes and spontaneously finding objects to use in programs to see what they will do with them. She is also constantly thinking of items she can include in activities and new places to take the children.
“I enjoy observing how they (children) interact with each other and see how they solve problems, conflicts and resolutions between the children,” Van Roy said. “I love my job, I love working with children.”
The most rewarding aspect is watching children learn and grow before her eyes, Van Roy said.
She has been taking care of the same boy since he was two-and-a-half years old. He is now five years old and has matured and become a leader.
“It’s so inspiring to see children, who are here for a little bit longer, grow up and mature,” she said.
Van Roy is the 2015 recipient of the Prime Minister’s Awards for Excellence in early childhood education, which recognizes leadership, exemplary early childhood education practices and a commitment to help build a foundation for children.
According to Samantha Davies, manager of Centennial Day Care, who was one of the people who nominated Van Roy for the award, her passion for children is contagious.
“For me she just embodies what it is to be a natural born teacher of young children. Her passion is contagious. She’s so enthusiastic and comes up with great ideas and she inspires everyone around her,” Davies said.
“She’s really good at finding things in the community and the environment and seeing other uses for them. She picks up branches along the trail, she’ll go out and pop in a store and come back with amazing things she’s found.”