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Staff Bios

Katy Korte, Director

Katy Korte

Greetings! I am Katy Korte and I am the director of the Kirksville Child Development Center. Parents and I started the program in 2006; we have been striving to help it grow and best serve young children and families ever since.

I grew up on a farm in central Missouri, the oldest of four and with many cousins. From a young age I felt drawn to caring for young children. It led me to graduating with a BA in Human Development and Family Studies with an emphasis in Children in Group Settings in 1997. I worked with preschoolers and college students at the Child Development Lab at the University of Missouri-Columbia as an assistant instructor for a year before moving to Omaha and working in a toddler program with Westside Community Schools. In 2000 my husband and I moved to Kirksville, MO, and I enrolled in the Master of Arts program at Truman State University. While finishing my degree, I began working at the Child Development Center at Truman, where I had been a scholarship student during my undergrad years. When the CDC was closed in 2006, a group of dedicated parents and I had the dream of starting a parent cooperative preschool, and with a lot of hard work, we made that happen. That’s where I’ve been ever since.
All of that being said…

How we raise and nurture and foster and listen to our young children ripples out to every part of life. Early childhood (birth through 5) is so foundational, it is quite mind boggling! I seek to respect the dignity of every child in our program; to give them the experience of safely and confidently acting on the world around them, to explore and experiment, to repeat projects and use the creativity they naturally have; to respond lovingly and consistently, setting boundaries when needed; to understand and share with parents how kids grow and develop even when they have different personalities and temperaments.

In 2000 I attended a conference in Omaha with early childhood educator Bev Bos. I was mesmerized!! She led me to integrate all my previous experiences into a clearer picture of what an early childhood setting needs to look like. Her kids were digging in mud and painting with their hands and running around everywhere – being kids! She expresses concern over the push-down curriculum that continues today and the consequences of not allowing kids to play when they are young. In play kids not only learn the foundations for all things academic – early reading, writing, math, science – but the more foundational experiences of belonging, self-expression, self-esteem, creativity, risk-taking, “grit,” silliness, joy, wonder, persistence, relationships, etc. These all develop in the messiness of play.

And so, at the K-CDC we play! We have a the tumbling room for large motor projects, a huge art easel for enthusiastic painting, dramatic play clothes for pretending, enough books for a library, a humongous sandbox for digging and water play, a 2-story clubhouse for looking out over the world, a couch for reading and cuddling, and much more. We also have intuitive adults who are trained to be present and to appropriately respond to the many needs of preschool-aged children.

We invite you to visit our center and explore for yourself and to talk to some of our parents about our coop-model. It truly takes a village to raise our kids, and we hope we are creating a community to do just that!

Katy Korte
Director

Kate Sandefur, Assistant Director

Kate Sandefur

I began caring for children at age 11, with a little Babysitter Suitcase complete with picture books, puppets and shaving cream (for outside play!).

I have been a part of the KCDC since 2007, first as a parent and MAE student, and beginning in 2008 as the full-day Assistant Director of the school. I am a mother of a blended family of six children (biological mom to 3, stepmom to 3)! Three of our kids have attended the K-CDC.
I enjoy working and playing with children at our center because there is a respect for children and the important work of play that is so fundamental to their development as they learn their way in this world. They should be able to get elbow deep into a project or intensely passionate about dramatic play or dig quietly in the sandbox or stare at roly-polies or laugh as they play a game.

Our world doesn’t allow time for that anymore, but the K-CDC there is time for that (unless its lunch or nap time!). Children need the support to practice risk taking; the encouragement and freedom to explore the complexities and subtleties of friendship; the open-ended art materials to create; and the opportunities for physical movement. They need mountains of books, play dough, balance beams, science experiments, and sensory experiences. They need caring adults standing by to assist, facilitate and encourage verbal skills, math skills, social and emotional skills and much more! My favorite part of my job includes sharing a book with groups of children, playing in the sandbox, and watching children grow from the first tentative steps of friendships to becoming group leaders and problem solvers!

We hope you will join us!

Kate Sandefur
Assistant Director

Cheryl Dorrell, Board President

Cheryl Dorrell

I have been involved with the Kirksville Child Development Center since it opened. I had a friend who happened to mention that because of one preschool closing in the area, some parents were rallying together to open another. I thought this sounded like an interesting endeavor and casually mentioned that I’d be happy to help if they ever needed it. Fast forward about two months and I was asked to fill a position on the Board of Directors due to another member moving. I have served different roles over the years including Member-at-Large and Secretary, and then I was nominated as President during the summer of 2011.

All three of my children have attended the KCDC at various times. At first glance, the preschool appears to be chaotic. As I wade through I see invaluable interactions between students of varying ages, teachers, college-aged classroom aides and other parents of preschoolers. I see children allowed to develop a sense of self without interference. I see them navigating complex social interactions with their peers. I see them controlling their own experiences and building confidence in themselves as they do so. I have seen them learn failure, not because a teacher told them that a certain idea won’t work, but because that teacher stood by and allowed them to safely try their idea. I have seen children persevere and achieve things that my adult brain thought were impossible.

The KCDC supports the children and their families both at the preschool and in the home. We strive to develop a community within our community. We have family pot luck dinners, education nights and our own lending library of parenting books. I know the children at the school by name, as well as their parents and sometimes even grandparents.

Mr. Rogers said many years ago “Play is often talked about as if it were relief from serious learning. But for children, play is learning. Play is really the work of childhood.” The KCDC offers a place where children can learn, play and grow into the people they are meant to be.

Good luck to you as you explore and experience early childhood education options. Please let us know if we can help you in any way!

Cheryl J Dorrell
Board President