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EDCOE Team Member Spotlight - Kathi McCullough, Head Start Teacher

00:00 AM - November 16, 2020

 Kathi McCullough, Head Start Teacher, Ken Lowry

Interview with Kathi:

Briefly describe your background (where you grew up, family, why you came to work for EDCOE).

I was born in San Jose, California when it was orchards, rather than dot coms. We spent time in the East Bay Area, but I spent most of my life in the Monterey Bay. I am the youngest of five children. I came to work at EDCOE because the Child Development program was very professional. The trainings are wonderful. The scaffolding from the coordinators and Jenny Pettit is amazing.

What is your department, title, primary work location, and how long have you worked for EDCOE?

I work in Child Development as a Head Start teacher, and was recently placed in a Duration classroom at Ken Lowry in Placerville. This is my ninth year with EDCOE. I have the privilege of having worked up in South Lake Tahoe as well as the Western Slope. I enjoy change.

Describe how your role helps support programs/schools/students directly or indirectly.

My role at EDCOE helps support our students from age 3-5 years old, but more importantly their families. While I teach preschool to the children, part of my job includes making sure everyone in the family has what they need to thrive. It could be food, clothing, learning to read, or connection to community helpers. Twice a year I do a home visit, building solid relationships with the families. Building that network with families strengthens the families, the community and me.

What are you and your team doing to support education in El Dorado County during COVID-19?

COVID-19 has definitely changed the landscape of Head Start. We have a hybrid system where the children attend class two days a week and distance learn three days a week. There is the option to only distance learn, but my students all come in two days a week. Brenda Higgins and the team in the kitchen make sure that the students get all the meals that they would ordinarily have at school by packing it up for them to pick up. My coworkers and I have also had Zoom meetings to stay connected to the families and especially the students. Ever tried to Zoom with a preschooler? We laugh quite frequently.

What do you most appreciate about your department/team?

The Child Development team is dedicated to supporting families in a myriad of ways. If there is a need for a student, we figure out a way to meet the need. They are also very dedicated to supporting the teachers with curriculum, training, items for the classroom, and weekly support. My team at Ken Lowry has been such a source of comfort through this pandemic. We have made several team YouTube videos to send to families while staying safe. The bonds that we have created here will last a lifetime for me.

What is your proudest moment at EDCOE?

For me, it is when a child assimilates a skill or concept. To see the child’s eyes light up is amazing and thrilling. It happens (hopefully) quite frequently, but magical nonetheless. Why? I am here to scaffold the kids. When progress is tangible; my job is so very rewarding. Successes make the hard work worth it.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I like to spend time with my daughter. I also love to travel. Right now, I am experiencing wanderlust. Outdoor activities thrill me: camping, hiking, and photography rank right up there in things I enjoy. Reading has always been something I love.

What is something many people may not know about you?

I have my motorcycle license. I recently sold my Yamaha, but have not closed the door on future adventures.

If you could meet anyone in the world, living or deceased, who would it be and why?

I lost my husband in March to cancer. I would love to see him again. It would be great to speak with John Steinbeck, or Maya Angelou. John Steinbeck was so integral to my hometown of Pacific Grove. I would love to glean some history from him. He was also very humorous, which I love in his books. Maya Angelou had such a rich, vibrant life. She seemed so wise and loving. I would be happy just to sit in her presence.

From supervisor Jenny Pettit:

Kathi has a “can do it” attitude, and always exhibits FUN in her classroom.

From supervisor Karrie Fieri:

Kathi shows joy in everything she does. When you walk into her classroom, you can feel the energy she exudes. She’s fun, energetic, creative, and is always laughing.

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