Meet The Owners

A big difference with Parkside Early Learning Centre is that the owners Andrew and Carolin Riley run the Centre hands-on.

Andrew says “The best early learning Centres are the ones that the owners are heavily involved and present. We make ourselves available each day so our families and community can talk with us at any time. It also helps that both Carolin and I are early childhood educators too. We are so passionate about the importance of good quality early childhood education”

One thing you will find different about Parkside Early Learning Centre are that both of the owners, Carolin and Andrew Riley are in fact Early Childhood Educators. They are involved in the day to day running of the Centre and you’ll find one of them onsite each day.

Our Story

Andrew Riley

When I was still at school back in New Zealand and the ripe old age of 15 I wanted to work in child care. I remember doing a placement in the local kindergarten next to my high school. I remember vividly trying to use the limited sign language I had learnt talking to a 4 year old girl that also had some learning difficulties. I knew at that point I wanted to work in an industry where you could make such a different in a person’s life.  Fast forward 25 years and that is when it actually began.

When I was younger I got knocked back by a couple of Child Care Centres and disappointingly I put my dream on the shelf along with many others and got on with normal life. At that time in New Zealand it was very difficult for a male to get a job working in early childhood. Now days they problem is the opposite trying to attract males into early childhood jobs. Over the past 15 years I still have been involved in the care and development of children mainly as a volunteer for community groups.

At the end of 2014 after a 15 year career working in information technology Carolin and I decided we would pack everything up and hit road travelling with our two children Isabella and Felix. It wasn’t until February 2015 when we finally hit the Australian road. We bought a 4wd and a caravan to go with it and became honorary Australians and hit the thousands of kilometres outback roads for the next 7 months.


While we were travelling I decided I would live another dream and do something about getting into the child care industry. I became qualified in early childhood in record speed seeing some of the most beautiful parts of Australia and spending 24/7 with my family.

While we were on the road I was keeping an eye out for Child Care Centres for sale. I had heard through contacts that a centre in Gympie might be coming up for sale. The size, facility and location suited perfectly for what we were looking for. We saw the potential in this centre that had been around a long time and needed a bit of love and investment. Once it came up for sale in June 2015 we grabbed the opportunity with both hands. In December we were the proud owners of the newly named and branded Parkside Early Learning centre. Our next adventure was to begin.

The things I have learnt over the last few years leading up to running Parkside Early Learning Centre are:

  • Live your dreams
  • Your never to old to live your dreams &
  • Never travel around Australia with a European Caravan!

Carolin Riley

I have had childcare on my mind ever since I was born! My mother was an educator and even after my pre-school years I always went to visit her after school at her centre. I told everyone I wanted to be an educator like mum even though she encouraged me to go my own way and chose my own career path! But it was meant to be…

After school (in Germany) I moved to England and worked as a nanny to 4 boisterous boys. I am still in touch with them today although they are almost all grown men now! After this I went to work in a primary school and this further encouraged my passion for early childhood education. I started my training and, once graduated, I continued working in childcare settings with a brief stint in after-school care.

When I was a stay-at-home mum I still wanted to be involved with children on a wider spectrum. I got involved with mainly music, a playgroup-style music group also run here in Gympie.  Through this I lead different groups of volunteers for 5 years, presented the music sessions and meet many wonderful families.

During our time travelling through Australia I studied a Certificate III in Teacher Aiding and when I returned back to the workforce my interest for having my own centre grew. I had so many ideas I wanted to incorporate and many of them are now coming to fruition at Parkside ELC like our weekly music session and teaching German as a second language to the children. My Teacher Aid training also helps me in my role as Educational Leader working together with our Kindergarten Teacher to deliver our ‘school ready’ program.

I love working actively with the children and other educators. Early childhood education is constantly changing and you never stop investigating and learning together with the children.