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New Director of UW Early Care and Education Center Enjoys Successful First Semester

January 20, 2023
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Natalie Enevoldsen

Natalie Enevoldsen is beginning her second semester as the director of the University of Wyoming Early Care and Education Center (ECEC), as she took the reins of the center upon the retirement of Mark Bittner after his over 30 years of service to UW.

Enevoldsen was selected for the position last June and has been serving in that role since Aug. 1.

“I greatly respect and admire former director Mark Bittner. He worked to build the best early childhood experience for our learners, and he left a legacy that I hope to continue,” Enevoldsen says. “In this role, I am committed to partnering with teachers to provide the very best education to our youngest learners, supporting families in their journey of parenthood and guiding our students in their passions as future educators.”

Enevoldsen, who received a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from UW in 2001, has worked in education for 17 years. In her most recent role as a lead preschool teacher for Albany County School District 1, she was responsible for supporting grant funding, admissions, curriculum development and building important and meaningful relationships with students and families. Her accomplishments there include successful program accreditation by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).

She developed strong leadership abilities while serving as the lower school director of a K-5 private school with nearly 300 students and 30 teachers. Her director’s responsibilities included evaluations, faculty hiring, budgeting, weekly faculty meetings, community engagement, student enrollment, and curriculum design and implementation. Those who have worked with Enevoldsen over the years note her capacity to build and maintain trusting relationships with teachers, students and families.

While at UW, her work as an intern with Bittner earned her an endorsement in early childhood education. Enevoldsen also holds a Master of Science degree in curriculum and instruction from Western Governors University. Additionally, she brings knowledge and understanding of the community as a parent of a recent ECEC preschool student.

“I have full confidence that Natalie will lead the exceptionally talented ECEC team toward a bright and energetic future for the center,” says Scott Thomas, the John P. “Jack” Ellbogen Dean of the College of Education. “Her vast leadership experience and proven abilities to build meaningful relationships with staff, students and families made her the perfect candidate for this role.”

It was a busy fall semester for Enevoldsen and her team at the ECEC, with full enrollment in each classroom. While at capacity, the ECEC team takes pride in its ability to maintain a loving and nurturing environment for all of its students and families. Despite a full house, the center’s staff members have enjoyed multiple successes, including renewed annual NAEYC accreditation and expanding collaborations across the UW campus to place students from multiple colleges in the ECEC to complete observations and practicums.

The team will work over the coming months to review practices and plan for the next NAEYC accreditation visit in 2024. This spring, the staff also welcomed a fresh batch of interns from the College of Education and the College of Agriculture, Life Sciences and Natural Resources, who are completing their capstone experiences on their journey to become early childhood educators.

“The most rewarding part of being the ECEC director has been building relationships with families and students. Parenting is a journey, and partnering with families to offer support, advice and reassurance means a lot to me,” Enevoldsen says. “It is incredible to see our teachers’ commitment to guiding and loving our students through these critical early years. The students are really the heart of our work. You can’t help but smile when you spend time in our classrooms.”

To learn more about the ECEC, go to www.uwyo.edu/ecec/.

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