Nurturing hearts. Inspiring minds.
Our story is about the heart and the power of human connection and joy in learning, and the magic and promise of young lives.
Chiselhurst is a Toowoomba kindergarten rich in history and at its heart a genuine love for and belief in every child, a commitment to the welfare of children and families and a strong community spirit. Our founder, Miss Anne Clark, opened the kindergarten's doors in 1940 in response to the conditions children and families were facing during World War II. One of Toowoomba's very first kindergartens, Chiselhurst was started with love and a determination to improve the outcomes for every child – to make a difference to the lives of the children and families that came through its door. Miss Clark strongly believed in kindergarten as the foundation for a successful school career and life – that the impressions and experiences gained during the first five years of life determined an individual’s entire set of values and shaped their future. It was about the heart as much as the mind.
Our kindergarten today gives a voice to people of six (6) generations and counting. Building on the past but keeping an eye on the future, Chiselhurst, a community kindergarten affiliated with Lady Gowrie, continues to be committed to the wellbeing of children and their families.
At Chiselhurst we take a ‘heart first’ approach, nurturing and inspiring a child’s heart in order to develop strong, ready minds and independent thinkers. Like Miss Clark we believe children thrive in a context of close, dependable relationships and environments that are designed for their endless delight, exploration and development. Forging strong connections with and between children allows our educators the ability to encourage and inspire them to think a bit deeper, push themselves a little further, question more and dream more. Our rooms and environments continue to be shaped by the hearts and lives of children – their ideas, initiative and imagination. This is their place. Everything and every moment is planned, designed or used to delight and inspire and facilitate learning, educating both the heart and the mind - developing character as much as intelligence. As Dr Jill Stamms states in her book Bright From The Start, the “...critical link between play and learning...is pleasure".
Family and a sense of belonging are pivotal to this approach. As a community kindergarten, families and the wider Toowoomba community are valued, appreciated and encouraged to take an active role.
Miss Clark’s legacy of an unswerving commitment to children and education remains. The best traditions of early education – of children learning through play, of natural fascinating playgrounds and families feeling part of a supportive educational community – are carefully maintained. Many attest to being caught up in what some have called the ‘Chiselhurst spirit’ - an extraordinary sense of love, community and purpose. As Deborah E. Grahan writes in her history of the kindergarten “Debutants to the Ball”, Chiselhurst “has an atmosphere and tradition which is palpable. Parents have felt it when first coming to enrol their children. Children have often realised it in hindsight. Many families miss it when their association with Chiselhurst ends.” At Chiselhurst we aim to create a very special place for the hearts and minds of children and give every child and family alike, a magical beginning to cherish.
A Short History
Chiselhurst began in the regional town of Toowoomba in 1940 when Miss Anne Clark, with eight pupils, opened her own community kindergarten in a private home. The name she selected for her kindergarten was ‘Chiselhurst'. From a young age, Miss Clark had a deep, innate love for children and a great desire to see them flourish. As she often quoted, ‘the child is the father of the man'. Miss Clark understood that the hearts, minds and hands of every child would someday shape our communities and our world and to that end she saw teaching as a calling. She was completely dedicated to the welfare of the children in her charge. As a former pupil quoted, “...she (Miss Clark) was the most wonderful, capable, caring and understanding person...totally dedicated...She would have been lost without children - she loved her work, it was her forte. She had a marvellous understanding of children...I would describe (her) as one of God's potters." (Gahan.D.E, 2002, Debutantes to the Ball, p1).
Miss Clark was considered one of Queensland's most experienced, respected and committed kindergarten Directors. She was sought after by families who held a belief in the value of kindergarten. For almost a quarter of a century Miss Clark “oversaw and influenced the early years of hundreds of Toowoomba children, playing a significant role in the men and women they would become." (Gahan.D.E, 2002, Debutantes to the Ball, p1).
Towards the end of 1963 (after 23 years of continuous teaching) Miss Clark found it necessary to relinquish her position due to ill health. A public meeting was held and a committee formed to inquire about an alternative site. After many phone calls and much organisation an old home in East Toowoomba was purchased for £6,800. This project was spearheaded by the newly elected President, Dr Haddon. These funds were raised in the remarkably short time of three weeks - a testament to the love and faith Toowoomba families held for the kindergarten and it's philosophy. The magnificent home at 12 Stonehaven Street, set in spacious grounds with many beautiful trees, looked the ideal setting for a kindergarten. In 1964, Chiselhurst re-opened with a full enrolment of 90 children and four staff members.
From the very beginning, Chiselhurst has created many happy memories for the numerous children, their families and members of staff who have been involved and associated with the kindergarten.
In 2014 Chiselhurst celebrated 50 years at Stonehaven Street. The old home and grounds remain in perfect order and the Chiselhurst community embraces the opportunity to give the children an authentic childhood full of love, nature, wonder, adventure and discovery.
Deborah E. Gahan recognised the rich history of Chiselhurst in the publication of her book “Debutante’s to the Ball” in 2002. A copy is held in the Chiselhurst library for your enjoyment.
The Name Chiselhurst
Our founder was the eldest of four children. Her mother, originally from Scotland, and her father, an Englishman, met by chance on a steamer coming from Britain to Australia. When deciding on a name for her kindergarten, Miss Clark's sister looked to the family's heritage and suggested the name Chiselhurst after an extremely beautiful and quaint area of London. As per an article in The Guardian about the London suburb:
“Chiselhurst is suspended amid woodlands, lanes and commons in the great morass of south London. Today, its delusions of rusticity remain, maintained by its extreme leafery and cute cottaginess, sheep and cows grazing in Scadbury Park nature reserve, and eccentric caves. As architectural historian Nikolaus Pevsner wrote: “No ordinary suburb. Though they wouldn't like that “s" word”. (Tom Dyckhoff, 28 Apr 2012, Let's move to Chislehurst, Greater London).
The beautiful, expansive gardens at Chiselhurst, the picturesque old character home in leafy East Toowoomba and the heart driven approach reflect this similar picture - Chiselhurst is a child’s natural wonderland and no ordinary beginning.
Lady Gowrie Affiliation
Chiselhurst Kindergarten is an affiliate of Lady Gowrie. Lady Gowrie acts as a central governing body for over 90 community kindergartens throughout Queensland. They provide ongoing comprehensive support to the Volunteer Management Committee of Chiselhurst and distribute state government funding directly to us. This funding covers approximately 65% of the staffing costs involved in operating Chiselhurst.
Affiliation with Lady Gowrie indicates a centre passionate about high quality early childhood education that has reached prescribed high standards in relation to buildings, facilities, safety, qualifications of staff and delivery of educational curricula.
Advisory staff from Lady Gowrie visit all centres throughout the State on a regular basis, assisting both staff and committees with advice regarding the operations of their centre.