Meet our Childhood Practice Managers

Michele Garner, Childhood Practice Manager

I have been working for CALA for 21 years in a variety of roles starting off as a fieldworker, spending a couple of years as a toddler facilitator on the Isle of Skye, and about 15 years, as a Manager of pre-school centres and out of school clubs.

I have two daughters and three grandchildren and a dog, Breagha, whom some of you will have seen on the CALA blog. I sing in a band, and I’m a pyrographer, I like to burn pictures on wood!

Julia McNeil, Childhood Practice Manager

I have been with CALA since September 2006. I currently manage two Early Years sites down Loch Ness which means I travel some beautiful country side on a weekly basis. I also manage three Out of School Clubs in Inverness, one of which is open for Holiday periods.

The holiday club has allowed us to access outings to Kincraig, Fort George and many more which have also been good fun.

I am a mum of two grown up girls embarking on their chosen careers which leaves my husband and I to enjoy a bit of walking and lots of cycling.

Marion Laidlaw, Childhood Practice Manager

I started my working life as a social worker but when children came along, decided I’d much rather work with wee ones. I got involved as a parent with my local playgroup then started working there in 1999 and haven’t looked back!! I’ve been a CPM since March 2011 which gives me lots of opportunities to keep my hand in with the children but has also given me the very rewarding challenge of supporting staff to develop their skills as practitioners.

I enjoy spending time with my family and have discovered the great joys of being a grandma – all the fun without the responsibility!

Fiona Morrison, Childhood Practice Manager

I have worked in childcare for many years now and enjoy the flexibility and range of services that are available.
My role as Workforce Development Manager consists of supporting and managing some of our Family Centres, supporting our Childminder Members, managing some of our Childhood Practice Managers as well as other aspects of work that support the workforce development process.
My role can take me to many places throughout Highland I am very lucky to experience some of the wonderful scenery on my travels.
I am a mother of 2 boys who keep me busy outside of work!  My hobbies are walking my lovely dog in the evenings taking in more scenery in my local surroundings.


Jackie Stewart, Childhood Practice Manager

Starting off as a parent helper, I have been working in Childcare for over 20 years. Much of that time was spent in a large childcare centre working with children from 2 – 12 years old. I took up the post of Childhood Practice Manager in June 2016 and now oversee 6 centres. After working in one place for a long time, it has been great to get out and about and travel to each of the centres and the role has given me the opportunity to meet a wide range of people.

I am currently doing my BA in Childhood Practice so that takes up some of my free time, while the rest is taken up spending time with my 2 grandchildren – Mia and Karson.

Sadie Kevill, Childhood Practice Manager

It’s almost 10 years since I began my career in childcare and I really love my job as a Childhood Practice Manager in the Far North.

Out of work I enjoy spending time with my own children, having fun outdoors visiting the beach and at times even swimming in the cold North sea!

I have recently found a love for gardening and cycling
which helps me to unwind. Although on a cold winters day you can’t beat cuddling up on the sofa with the family and a nice cup of tea.

Alison Morrison Smith, Childhood Practice Manager

I have been working in Junior World in Nairn for 10 years in a variety of roles, starting off as a part time helper in Out of School Care, then spending some years in Early Years as a Playworker and as a one to one support. I then became a Senior in Out of School Care which is where I found I was most comfortable and enjoyed this role and working with the older children.

In 2012 I became the Senior in the new Daycare facililty and with the rest of the team we now have a very busy and sucessful service for children aged 2-5 year old.

In 2014 I reduced my hours at Junior World to mornings to able me to fulfill my role as a CPM in the afternoons. Within the role I am responsible for 4 Out of School Services and a breakfast club. I enjoy this new position and the different people I get to work alongside from many differing professions and background.

Elicia Steell, Childhood Practice Manager

I live in Alness with my husband, cat and dog and people describe me as bubbly, dependable, caring and an awesome aunty!

I have only recently taken up the role of Childhood Practice Manager and over the past few months I have had the privilege of working with some amazing people and learning loads along the way.

After recently completing my HNC in Early Education and Childcare and a BA in Child and Youth Studies, I have worked in a variety of care settings including one-to-one support with children with additional needs, an after-school club, and a crèche for 0 to 4 year olds.

Studying for the past three years has encouraged me to extend my experiences in early years’ education, and I relish this opportunity with CALA and look forward to the challenges of my new role.