Half a lifetime in nursing and midwifery, a stint in the Army where she met her husband, teaching first aid on a holiday island and to inmates at a prison and "teaching" an Aboriginal studies course to offenders by asking them to teach her about their culture, could not have prepared Sue Motley for the day in 2000 when she badly injured her back while working in an Armidale nursing home and she realised her nursing career was finished.
Sue is now the director nominated supervisor at Armidale Community Preschool and said those early days in Armidale were a struggle.
"I was off work for quite a while and then they looked at how they could retrain me," Sue said.
"Couldn't go back to nursing, I really would have liked to go back to midwifery, but once again it was unpredictable, with people giving birth, you know, you get pushed and moved around.
"I could use a computer and that sort of stuff. So, I did some administrative work, and soon had five different book-keeping things going on."
Then Sue got four hours of administration work a fortnight at Armidale Community Preschool.
"I did the first week at four hours, the second week was eight hours and it just kept going from there," Sue said.
She said after her first taste of working with the children she was hooked and wanted to be trained as an educator.
"So, we rang up TAFE and I did my Certificate III as a trainee, I was in my 40s by then, and shortly after that the preschool burnt down, and we thought "that's the end of that", but no, it wasn't," she said.
Sue studied during 2007 among the rebuilding of the preschool for a diploma that would allow her to manage, and then decided to do the extra study to gain her degree.
"Still loving every minute of it, it was awesome. And then the Director's husband got posted to Canberra and she said 'Why don't you apply for my job?'," she said.
"That was five years ago. I started there in 2014 and at the time there was a lot of really strong competition for it because it was such a really good preschool."
Sue has worked at the preschool for 14 years and thinks anyone working there needs to be adaptable and have good life experience. With four children and three grandchildren, Sue said she also "got" the "grandmother gig" as well.
She said early learning had changed during her time there.
"The more we relax into it, taken a lot of structure out of the day, doing a lot more nature play and it's all child-led learning; we are seeing some amazing results," Sue said.
"We're actually working with some of the primary schools because they've seen our children come from our environment and into theirs.
"So, in the last few months we've been working with Drummond Memorial School.
"They've got a an outdoor space they want to add some more features to. Their school leaders have been down to have a look at what we've got. They're now part of a reseach project through Deakin University to take it up further."
Sue received an award for Excellence in Educational Leadership from the Australian College of Educators in 2017.
"Armidale Community Preschool has a very strong future. It has been there for 54-years and because it's know for it community involvement. That was my aim five years ago, was to get really engaged with the community. So we get out of the gate a lot and visit different places. "We want to try to build those networksbecause now we're getting those international families that don't have a network. We have about half a dozen parents just randomly come in to let their children have a play because they feel their children are safe there."
Sue said the preschool had a "mile-long" waiting list.
"We just can't fit them all in," she said.