NAME: Dean Bobo
CENTER: Magnolia Kindergarten Incorporated
TOWN: Batesville, MS
HOW LONG WORKING IN EARLY CHILDHOOD: 41 years
EDUCATION: Associates degree in Office Admin from Northwest, BA in general Ed from Crighton college in Memphis, TN, MA in Teaching, MA in Early Childhood Ed from North Central University
FAVORITE CHILDREN’S BOOK: Pete the Cat My Four Groovy Buttons
Dean Bobo’s career in childcare began at home. She cared for her own seven children, but opened her home to others when she saw that families in her community needed childcare services. “I was seeing a lot of children struggle with the basic foundation for education, and I wanted to help them get where they needed to be,” Bobo says, adding “I had been helping my own and I knew I wanted to help others.” Since then, she’s dedicated her career and education to caring for young children and setting them up for success at school. She currently provides care to 40 children through her own center in Batesville, has served on the local Childcare Advisory Board for three years, and is a member of the National Association for the Education of Young Children. On weekends, she works as a Sunday school teacher.
Bobo strives to ensure that children under her care have the supports and services they need to thrive. At her center, support ranges from bringing in speech therapists, optometrists, and dentists, to coordinating visits from the local library, to helping families in need purchase Christmas gifts. She’s driven by her love for children and passion for education. “I love the smiles they give you,” Bobo says, “I love being here…At the end of the year I’ve taught children how to read before they go to school. It’s so rewarding for the parents and the child. When children can put sounds together, and letters together to make a word, their eyes just GLOW. It’s amazing to see children blossom like they should.”
Bobo’s commitment to early education is reflected in her selection of staff – she prioritizes hiring qualified teachers who love both children and learning. However, she has experienced challenges finding and retaining great teachers, as funding constraints limit centers’ ability to pay teachers a salary that matches their qualifications. It’s a problem she hopes to address in her role as Child Care Provider Representative with SECAC, noting “to be successful, we need qualified teachers…We need money to pay good salaries to good people to teach. We need something to offer so we can attract dedicated, qualified teachers for children.” She looks forward to being a voice for childcare centers, and hopes work within SECAC to build a shared understanding of what’s needed for childcare centers and the children they serve to be successful.