SPOTLIGHT: Marnie Sowa
When Marnie Sowa joined Kids’ Country in 2009, she was already a seasoned, credentialed teacher who had taught in a number of Northern California school districts. Promoted to Site Director in 2012, Marnie leads the staff at Kids’ Country’s John Baldwin site in Danville.
With her level of experience, it was no surprise that Marnie was selected to participate in California School Age Consortium’s (CalSAC) Leadership Development Institute’s 360°/365 Fellowship Program. This intensive year long cohort-based program is designed specifically to support emerging leaders in afterschool, school-age child care, early learning and summer enrichment. The 360°/365 program focuses on deepening “the knowledge, skill and abilities of site coordinator and supervisory level staff to lead and manage effective programs that build the character of staff and students.”
When asked why she wanted to participate in this comprehensive program, Marnie shared, “Working at Kids’ Country has brought me to people who know the impact of great teachers and great programming. I want to make a difference, support, inspire and motivate the children, teachers and the community I work in.”
Marnie leads by example, engaging at every level of the work at her site: from mentoring teachers to ensuring that the on-site programming meets the unique needs of the children to building collaborative relationships with parents. “I love coming to work every day,” she says. “I love impacting the children we serve. And I work to empower our teachers to own their programs and curriculum so they love the work as much as I do!”
Kids’ Country’s John Baldwin site recently implemented our innovative DREAMZ project of redesigning the space for older children in grades 3 to 5, (see our blog on DREAMZ here). One of Marnie’s goals during her Fellowship was to collaborate with teachers on creating curriculum to support and fully utilize the redesign. Marnie and her staff helped design music, construction, and STEM projects that integrated curriculum with the zone concept to truly facilitate student led exploration and learning.
The CalSAC leadership program has helped Marnie build her confidence as a thought leader in school age care and define her style of leadership. She notes, “I have become more reflective, appreciative and intentional with my staff, the families and the children.” She’s committed to building strong relationships with parents. As she puts it, “I want to really connect with parents. All of my staff know each parent’s name, where they work and where they are commuting from.”
Marnie graduated from the 360°/365 Fellowship at a celebratory ceremony in Oakland on March 25th. Kids’ Country congratulates Marnie on this extraordinary achievement! And all of Kids’ Country benefits from her mission to “lead, inspire and prepare youth to believe in themselves for their future, their success and their happiness.”
Over the coming year, we’ll be spotlighting Kids’ Country staff who are all dynamic leaders in the field of school age care, as well as Board members and families who all contribute to making Kids’ Country the place for kids!