KEARNEY – The University of Nebraska at Kearney has selected an interim director to lead its LaVonne Kopecky Plambeck Early Childhood Education Center.
UNK alumna Chelsea Bartling was appointed to the position effective today.
Bartling has 11 years of experience in the early childhood field as a preschool teacher and early childhood specialist with Grand Island and Kearney public schools. She also worked as a teacher’s aide and preschool teacher in UNK’s former Child Development Center while enrolled at the university as an undergraduate student.
“Chelsea is the right person to lead the Plambeck Center during this challenging time,” UNK Vice Chancellor for Business and Finance Jon Watts said. “Her educational background and extensive experience at Kearney Public Schools’ award-winning Bright Futures Preschool program set her apart. She will absolutely go above and beyond to serve the needs of Kearney’s young children and their families.”
Bartling held several leadership positions at Kearney Public Schools and was responsible for a variety of tasks at the district’s Bright Futures Preschool, including developing yearly pacing guides, creating monthly activity calendars, coordinating field trips and family events, managing social media and leading school assemblies. She trained and mentored new staff, as well as student teachers, and played a key role in the implementation of the Pyramid Model, a framework for promoting social and emotional development in young children through positive behavior support.
Bartling earned a Bachelor of Arts in Education with an early childhood unified field endorsement and social work minor in May 2009 and is currently pursuing a Master of Arts in Education with a PK-8 school principalship endorsement through UNK.
She serves as vice president of the Kearney Area Chapter of the Nebraska Association for the Education of Young Children and is a member of the Kearney Education Association and Nebraska State Education Association.
“Early childhood education has always been an integral part of my life and professional career,” Bartling said. “I take great pride in advocating for early childhood education, as it is my passion, and my excitement only grows when I think about what can be accomplished through this exciting opportunity with the Plambeck Center.”
Opened in November 2019 on UNK’s University Village development, the Plambeck Center provides developmentally appropriate early education for up to 176 children from infant to age 6, including those with special needs. It features 11 classrooms dedicated to three research-based philosophies for early childhood education – Montessori, project-based and eclectic.
The 19,900-square-foot facility also serves as a lab school where students from UNK and the University of Nebraska Medical Center prepare for their future careers through experiential learning activities such as classroom observations, practicums, internships, student teaching, diagnostic testing and research.
As interim director, Bartling will manage day-to-day operations of the Plambeck Center, collaborate with various campus departments and community organizations on learning, child development and research initiatives, and assist in the development of programs within the center.
She and her husband Tim, assistant director of digital learning spaces with UNK eCampus, live in Kearney with their 7-year-old daughter Madelyn.
UNK plans to launch a search for a permanent Plambeck Center director in spring 2022.