Where you work:
Tongue River Child’s Place
What you do:
Business director and infant toddler classroom coach
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Powell, Wyoming.
If you attended college, where and what did you study?
My first two years were done in Powell at Northwest College. I received an associate degree in psychology in 2003. I went on to complete my bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Wyoming. My emphasis was child development.
How did you end up as the business director at Tongue River Child’s Place?
I began working at the TRCP part time to answer phones and help with office work. Shari Mortensen and I quickly learned that we made a great team, and as she got more and more busy with our preschool program, the need for me to take on a bigger role in the center became very clear. I was very happy to take on this new challenge because I understand how important TRCP is to the Tongue River Valley and its families. All three of my children attended preschool at TRCP and it was a huge blessing to us.
How have you seen that organization grow/change during your involvement?
Since I began at the Tongue River Child’s Place we have become more financially stable and have begun to save and plan for the future of our organization. This has really allowed us to strengthen our relationships with the local community and the many partners that make our work possible. We have seen an increase in our enrollment and I think this is because we have improved our center.
We have also begun to emphasize professional development for our staff, so that we can provide the best care possible and ensure best practice is used at all times. We have implemented the Pyramid Model and will be implementing a curriculum center wide. These changes ensure that our children get the support and education they deserve. Tongue River Child’s Place is an important part of the community, and I hope to continue to grow our center.
With three young children, you likely don’t get much quiet time. What do you think about when you’re alone?
I think most moms will tell you that even when you are alone, children and chores dominate most of your thoughts, but I also find that my alone time is the time when I can really explore my faith and my relationship with the Lord. The quiet times are a great time to really reflect on how blessed I am, and how God has worked and continues to work in my life. My faith is very important to me, and the time I can spend in reflection keeps me going.
What’s one thing you’ve learned since having kids that you never would have imagined would be knowledge you’d have? (For example, do you now know the name of every super hero and/or dinosaur)?
I have learned so much since becoming a mom, and each of my children has taught me different things. My daughter, McKenna, has a passion for ballet, so I have learned more ballet terms than I ever thought possible. My boys, Aiden and Kobbe, love animals and teach me about all kinds of new creatures from the books they read. I could also name every Beyblade and tell you their strengths and how they battle thanks to many long chats about them over dinner.
Outside of the TRCP, are you involved in other ways in the Tongue River communities? If so, how?
I have been on the board of the TRVCC for about 10 years. It has been amazing be a part of the growth of this organization. It is such an asset to our community. Along with being on the board, I also teach workout classes for the TRVCC and help with some of their elementary/ middle school programming. For the last three years I have coached the Tongue River Little Eagles cheerleading as well.
This has been very fun and rewarding. I help with the AWANA program and Vacation Bible School at the Dayton Community Church. I will take pretty much any opportunity I can to work with children!
You’re from Wyoming — graduated high school in Powell in 2001 — how have you seen the state change and what do you hope to see in the state’s future?
One of the biggest changes I have seen is the emphasis and understanding of early childhood education. Kindergarten is not what it was when I started school, and the change in expectations has made preschool very important. I feel like our state has increased preschool options and understands how important literacy, social emotional skills and early learning has become.
As for our state’s future, I would like to see diversification in our economy. My dream is for my kids to be able to raise families in Wyoming and to have successful careers in our state. I think Wyoming is a wonderful place to live and raise a family, and I hope that the small town feeling never goes away.
In a small town like Dayton, there must be a strong sense of community. Is that true? How does that show itself?
The strong sense of community is why Jeremy and I chose to raise our children in the Tongue River Valley. It is always amazing to me to see how people come together to help each other out or to offer encouragement in times of need. From neighbors checking to see if we need anything picked up in Sheridan, to people offering to give our children rides home from various activities, to neighbors and community members pitching in to help with yard and house projects when they see someone working,
I have seen more giving of time and treasure in our small community than I ever thought possible. I think a perfect example of this is when our cat went missing a couple years ago. Our children were heartbroken, so I posted online that he was missing. Soon neighbors and community members were at our house asking what they could do to help. People went out walking for hours and put up signs to help us find our cat! Thanks to the help of our neighbors, we got our Timber kitty home safe and sound. I was amazed and overwhelmed by how loving and caring our community was.