Our Staff Make it Happen! (Part 2)

In May, you met several of our stellar staff.  The journey continues this month!

Cassie Young
I came to work for Children Inc. in 1994. I have been the director at four locations, St Ann’s now is Montessori Early Learning Academy (MELA), then I went to Treasure House, while at Treasure House I also ran Montessori at 5th and now I am at Imagine Tomorrow. I have always been in the role of Director. I have also been involved in several initiatives that are common practice for us now for example assessments, Devereux Early Childhood Assessment (DECA), the Quality Curriculum Components (QCC) and was involved in filming two videos, one for United Way and the other was Challenging Behaviors.

I attended the University of Cincinnati where upon graduation I had two Associates degrees, one in General Secretarial Studies and the other in Early Childhood Education. Several family members encouraged me to stay with the Early Childhood so I did. I have been working with children and their families for 31 years. I truly enjoy my position and the career I choose.

In my free time I love to read, travel, and garden and spend time with my family. My daughter is getting married in August so right now my free time has been spent on wedding planning. This has changed so much since I got married. I am very excited that my whole family will be here for Rebecca’s wedding. There will be about 31 of us together for the first time in a long time. After the wedding and in December I plan on going to New Orleans.

I have been a member of the CI family for a long time and value that I have always been able to speak my mind and feel like I have been able to contribute to the success of the centers, and the staff I have worked with. CI truly cares about children and them succeeding in their education and giving them the skills to be resilient.

Cara Bolton
Cara Bolton of Children, Inc. I have been with Children, Inc. since 2009. I have my CDA (Child Development Associate). In my free time I enjoy taking trips to Gatlinburg, scrap booking, baking, and just spending time with family & friends. I love working with children and feeling like I’m making a difference in someone’s life. What I value about Children, Inc. is that they believe in families & the community & make me feel like I’m a part of a team.

Bob Welker
My 20th year anniversary was June 7, 2014. (1987 – 1997 and 2004 – 2014).  I began my teaching career 27 years ago at Children, Inc.’s Cathedral Child Development Center.  Mr. Rick hired me for the Pre-K/Kindergarten classroom.  He was my director.  I am forever Bob Welker of Children, Inc.grateful for the opportunities that Children, Inc. has opened up for me to learn.  The many children, families and co-workers have been so instrumental in my story.  In 1997, I earned my M.A.Ed. in Early Childhood; dedicating my life to working with and on behalf of young children.  Currently, I am a classroom coach for Promoting Resilient Children/CRYC.  I observe and consult around the internal lives of children using the DECA Program and the question “What helps children and their teachers feel good at school?”  The premise that guides my focus on the child and the role of the teacher is “Behaviors are feelings to be understood”.

Kristen Fleek
Kristen Fleek of Children, Inc. Kristen has been with Children, Inc. since August of 2002.  Kristen began with Children, Inc. working as an aide at Collins Elementary School  in Florence, and still works there today as the Site Director.  Kristen has achieved well over 200 hours of professional child care training and brings passion and dedication to the in school programs and summer care program she works at Ockerman Elementary School.


Last month, we also posted 10 of the reasons we admire Rick Hulefeld, our Executive Director.  Take a look!

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10 Reasons We Admire Rick

In no particular order:

1) 35 years ago this month, Rick and Mary Hulefeld created a high quality early learning center, the Cathedral Child Development Center, so that very low income families would be able to work and their children would be ready for school success.Children, Inc. High Quality Child Care for Children Ages Infant through Kindergarten

2) Rick created a large network of family child care homes, raising the quality of care in over 85 homes so that hundreds of moms each year could go back to work after their babies were born.

3) He created a system of after school programs in more than 45 elementary schools so that families would not worry about a child home alone.

4) To help fund Children, Inc.’s work with low income families, Rick developed profitable on-site child care for two of Northern Kentucky’s largest employers, the IRS (Treasure House) and Toyota (Imagine Tomorrow).

Rick Hulefeld Executive Director of Children, Inc.5) Rick and his team opened four early learning centers on site in high schools so that teen moms would both finish high school and improve their nurturing skills.

6) He and the Children, Inc. team developed a high quality home visitation program (Young Families Program) that provides weekly support and guidance to over 200 first time, high risk moms each year. This support begins prenatally and may continue to the child’s third birthday.

7) Each year Children, Inc. brought the Early Childhood Brain Developmentlatest breakthroughs in neuroscience to the region through their series of brain conferences. These conferences helped many thought leaders begin to understand the unique role of the first years of life.

8) Rick believes that all children have something to give back to the community, and so he launched the Service Learning Initiative that is now in 91 schools. Last year more than 25,400 students completed a service learning project, taking something that they were learning in school to address a problem or need in their community.Growing Sound, Social Enterprise Division of Children, Inc.

9) Because music is such a powerful way to teach, Children, Inc. (Growing Sound) writes, records and distributes children’s music that promotes key character strengths like empathy, perseverance, resilience, kindness, etc.  To date Children, Inc. has created 18 separate research-based CDs.

10) This year Rick helped launch the Healthy Smiles for Our Kids to address Northern Kentucky’s poor oral health epidemic.  On Saturday, June 21, the Healthy Smiles for Our Kids coalition will host Baby Teeth Matter Children, Inc. Children's Oral Health DVDChildren’s Dental Day.  Dental services will be provided at no charge to children in grades kindergarten through 12 who do not have private dental insurance. Services include exams, cleaning, sealant and fluoride varnish application, and treatment, if needed.

And because we love the Cov:

11) Rick and Mary live and have reared their five children in an inner city Covington neighborhood.


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Our Staff Make it Happen!

Children, Inc. is fortunate to have a stellar team to bring high quality experiences to families and children each and every day.  Our working family makes it possible.  Here, we’d like to celebrate some of our staff who have been with us for years and have made their dreams with us.  Look for another staff celebration segment in our June newsletter!

Aurora HalenkampChildren, Inc. Staff Anniversaries
I’ve been working with Children, Inc. since August 2004 with the Extended Educational Care (EEC) program, at Kenton Elementary in Independence. I got my Child Development Associate (CDA) credential later on 2009 and it has been a great experience working with small children.  I enjoy doing art, painting or just making anything crafty on my free time, but not cooking.  I am very blessed to have a great mentor all this years, Ms. Tina Deaton, we make a good team.

Dianne Shannon
Staff Anniversaries - D. Shannon I started here on June 1, 1999.  I really like my job. I like what I do and the people I work with.  I have a degree in business from UC.  In my free time I like to read, crochet, cross stitch, sew and work jigsaw puzzles, and oh yeah, I love to play with my dog Buddy.  This summer I have a couple of mini vacations planned.

Georgetta Johnson
In July of 1989, I began as an Administrative Assistant at what was once known as Visions Community Services.  Here I established and maintained employee records, prepared quarterly statistical data, and all other administrative duties.  In September 1995, I explored other work opportunities and later returned home to Visions in February 1999.  Staff Anniversaries - G. JohnsonNow I am the Administrative Coordinator.  I am an alumnus of both Taft High School and Great Oaks, where I earned a certification in Accounting.  I have completed a multitude of professional development and continuing education courses.  As work is important, my church and family always comes first.  Each year, my husband and I enjoy our annual family vacation to Myrtle Beach, North Carolina.  My grandchildren always bring joy to my heart.   As a strong believer, I’ve always felt the need to help others.  Having the opportunity to mentor and nurture young mothers and their children, is what makes my job most enjoyable.  Over the years I have also enjoyed contributing to our annual fundraisers.  Raising of the Green, has helped raise over ninety-thousand dollars to help fund our children and families.  As Children, Inc. merged with Visions Early Learning Center in 2013, they have become an important asset to our company.  Over these twenty-two years, both Visions and Children, Inc. have become a part of my family.  I look forward to many more years with you all.

Candy Nelson
Staff Anniversaries - C. Nelson I’m the lead teacher of the Teddy Bears, our youngest group of babies at Visions Early Learning Center.  I earned my Associate Degree in Early Childhood Care and Education from Cincinnati State.  I am the mother of 3 children, 2 of whom are enrolled at Visions: Jaylynne – 5; Jayden – 3 ½; and Jayde – 2 months.  Prior to coming here I was an assistant teacher at the William Mallory Child Development Center at Cincinnati State.  I’ve been with the babies since I started, and have been one of the opening teachers at Visions for at least the last 4 years.  I love that everyone is caring, fun to work with, and nice to one another.  I also love being able to watch the children grow up in Visions.

In my free time I like to go to the movies.  I don’t have much free time after dealing with my three children.  This year, I’m looking forward to enrolling in school to finish my Bachelor’s, and just spending time with my kids.  My oldest child, Jaylynne, will be starting kindergarten at the School for Creative and Performing Arts.

Melissa Royse
I joined Children, Inc. and Imagine Tomorrow in June of 2005.  I attended Xavier University and graduated in 2002 with my Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education and Montessori 3-6 Certification.  While at Xavier I fell in love with the Montessori Philosophy. I wouldn’t want to teach any other way!

Staff Anniversaries - M. RoyseIn my free time I love doing things with my family.  We enjoy going to the zoo, the Cincinnati museum center, football games, and hanging out at home watching movies and playing.  This summer we are going on a Disney Cruise!

I am also involved with the March of Dimes. They are working to identify, and aim to prevent preterm birth.  It is a cause very dear to my heart. My oldest was born very prematurely, and would not be here today without their innovations.

I value Children, Inc. because of its mission and vision.  Providing high quality childcare and early education by valuing partnerships with parents and the community.  Ensuring every child has a great start to their educational journey.

Mandi Johnson
I began my career with Children, Inc. at Cathedral in March of 1999 working in Montessori A as a teacher’s aide.  I fell in love with the Montessori approach and immediately applied to enroll in Greater Cincinnati Center for Montessori Education.  I became Montessori Certified in January 2001 and began my journey as a Montessori Teacher.  In 2007 I was promoted as Director at Montessori Early Learning Academy.  In January 2012 I was Staff Anniversaries - M. Johnsongiven an opportunity to Direct and Teach at a teen parent center, in which I felt my journey as a teen mother had come full circle!  I am currently in a position with duel responsibilities and I love being able to work with young children and also mentoring young parents.

Outside of work I enjoy being a Mother to 4 daughters, spending most weekends at horse shows, and learning the farm life with my husband.

What I value most from being a Children, Inc. member is that I have been given a place to grow and truly learn about child development that has not only molded me as a professional, but also as a mother.  I believe in children, and I believe in our Mission.

Gayle Drexler
Here is my story and I’m sticking to it. I have spent the last 10 years as a Supervisor in the Young Families Program. I have had the privilege of supervising an amazing staff that supports families in those early years. Prior to coming here I spent the majority of my career helping children that had been removed from their families and placed in therapeutic foster homes.
Staff Anniversaries - G. Morken
I am originally from California. After graduating High School, I spent six years serving in the Air Force. I attended college at Ball State University, where I earned a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology.

I love to spend time outdoors exploring. I have tried many thrill seeking adventurous sports such as Rock Climbing, White Water Rafting and Scuba Diving. I also played competitive Volleyball for many years.

I have truly enjoyed working at Children, Inc. I have worked at many agencies in my career, but am most proud of my experience here. It is so rewarding to be preventing problems with children rather than trying to help repair damage.

Tina Cook
My name is Tina Cook and I am the director of the Teen Parent Program for the Kenton County Schools.

My career at Children, Inc. started in 1991 when the Bigg’s Early Childhood Center opened in Covington.  I was a special educator and worked with parents.  In 1994, Children, Inc. hired me as a teacher when they were contracting teachers at Bigg’s.  In 1996, my long time dream came true.  Kenton County Schools were finally going to open a teen parent program to support parents while they continued their education.  Anyone that knows me knows the passion and drive that I have for my program.  I have done my best to mentor young parents, provide a stable environment for their children, work with the school district to make improvements to the program and advocate for other programs as well as mine.  Several job opportunities have come and gone along the way, but my heart has  Staff Anniversaries - T. Cookalways been with Kenton and my dream doing goal would be to open an independent living house for teen parents so that they can live independently with a mentor, learn life skills with a strong advocate, and provide a self sufficient life for themselves and their child.  Children, Inc. has always meant so much to me and I value every opportunity I get to help children and families.

I am a certified trainer for the State of Kentucky, a National Trainer for the Program for Infants and Toddlers, and I enjoy working with all of our programs to be successful.  In 2003 Kenton Teen Center was awarded the first 4 STAR rating in Northern Kentucky and maintains that rating today and will be hoping to achieve the newest rating when it is made available to centers.

I have two wonderful sons who both have chosen a career in law enforcement.  They were both in Children, Inc. programs growing up.  Three years ago I became a grandmother of a beautiful baby girl, and last year a grandson added joy to our family.

I am currently engaged and will have four step children to add to my family.  Family is the most important thing in my life and ironically everyone calls the teen center their family too, so my life is just about complete.

In our spare time, which is not nearly enough, my family loves to fish, vacation together, dinners on Sunday, and we spend a lot of time laughing and sharing stories. Eric and I are planning to get married next year.

The happiest and saddest day of my school year is graduation.  It’s bitter sweet and validates the hard work of so many, but I miss them so much once they move on.

Kelly Lang
Staff Anniversaries - K. Lang I was born and raised in Buffalo, NY where I attended Buffalo State College with an interest in Art and Education.  I love music and art and several of the art pieces that hang in my home I created myself.  I also lived in New Orleans, LA and Louisville, KY. before coming to Covington, KY.  I began at Children, Inc. in 1994 as an Office Manager/Recruiter for School Age Services. Prior to working for Children, Inc., I enjoyed leadership positions with American Airlines, UPS and Humana.  I have 2 kitties, Lola and Roxy.  I love to spend my free time shopping outside at Findlay Market, in the kitchen cooking with my husband of 22 years or at the gym taking a class or working out with friends.

Cindy Pfirrman
A long time ago in a distant land, before cell phones, tablets, flat screens TVs, and digital everything including many of you, I began my humble career with Children, Inc.  I began in 1989 as the receptionist in the building across from the cathedral working part time, raising a family until one day when I was approached by the then School Age Services (SAS) Director, and asked if I would be interested in working for School Age Services.  My first assignment was Supervisor in the Florence/Erlanger area overseeing 7 After School programs.   As I set Staff Anniversaries - C. Pfirmannout to change the world one child at-a-time and armed with a trusty “beeper” for emergencies,  I began to see an opportunity during those hours after school to create relationships with those kids who would normally have gone home to an empty house.  As time passed we began sprinkling a few academic enrichments into the mix and seeing success.

Fast forward 23 years later: 26 2-STAR rated After School programs, 16 Before School, 8 3-STAR rated Extended Educational Care (EEC) kindergarten locations, and 4 SummerCare day camps and we have made progress.  But before you assume that I am super-women, you need to know that it is only because of my hardworking, super-star team that we have been able to achieve the success we share today.  And to the SAS team…25 years later (a few more wrinkles and anxiety issues), I am truly grateful!

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