Missouri State University alumna Angie Kinder has worked for Ozark Action for 15 years.
She started as a parent/teacher assistant in 2008, then began her journey working for Ozark Action’s Head Start as a teacher in 2009.
“I fell in love with the Head Start program and enrolled in an education program at MSU so I could make helping families my career,” she said.
This fall, she became the director of Head Start for the region. She works at a location in West Plains.
Making lasting impacts on families
Head Start provides children with a safe and nurturing learning environment. They provide hands-on, play-based learning and family engagement experiences.
As the director, Kinder leads over 100 staff members across six counties to ensure they implement comprehensive, quality early childhood education services. She also develops program goals and design options, as well as budgets.
Kinder’s role fulfills her passion for helping families.
“Head Start reminds me daily that it only takes one caring adult to help a child. When a whole system comes together to support not only the child but the entire family, the outcomes can be life changing,” she said.
“I’ve seen a lot of families gain confidence and achieve so many goals while in our program. I love running into families we served over 10 years ago and they still remember how we helped them.”
Seeking guidance from others
The CFD program gave Kinder hands-on experience in early childhood settings.
“These experiences allowed me to apply what I was learning to real situations and gave me the confidence and knowledge I needed to enter the classroom,” she said.
As a working mother, Kinder said the flexibility of the outreach program and support from faculty helped her succeed at MSU.
“Brenda Smith and Renee Keith were amazing advisors and mentors. I could sit down with them anytime I had questions. They walked me through the entire process and reassured me when I felt overwhelmed,” Kinder said.
She encourages others to build similar relationships with their advisors.
“Don’t be afraid to share your concerns and struggles with your advisors. They’re there to support and guide you. They want to see you succeed and can help you develop a plan that works for you.”