Bobbi Woodral is the new director of the Head Start and ECEAP (Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program) in Spokane. She has 25 years’ experience in early childhood education and has spent the last 14 years at Head Start, first as a teacher, then family services coordinator, then manager of a center and since 2017 she has been the director of operations. Head Start is a federal program administered through the Community Colleges of Spokane. Woodral became director March 1 and succeeds Patty Allen, who is retiring in June after working for Head Start at CCS since 1990. Allen has been director since 2008.
Woodral has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Western Oregon University and a master’s degree in management and leadership from Western Governors University in Salt Lake City. She was selected for the position after a national search.
She began her career at Head Start in Spokane as a teacher at the Spokane Community College’s Head Start Center where she managed a classroom of 18 children for two years and conducted home visits and conferences with their families. For the next four years she was a family services coordinator where she recruited and registered families and children, managed their records and reports, managed the health requirements and needs of enrolled children, oriented families to the program policies and procedures and developed family partnerships that included planning and implementing family engagement activities and parent education.
Woodral then moved into the position of managing the Early Learning Center at Spokane Falls Community College for almost five years. She supervised 25 full-time and 30 part-time staff, maintained oversight of the budget, assured compliance with federal and state regulations and provided ongoing communication with parents, staff and the Head Start team. As director of operations for the last 2½ years she has led a team of nine center managers providing early childhood education services to nearly 1,000 at-risk children and families at 12 facilities.
“I’m appreciative of the opportunity to have worked alongside Patty Allen and to have been encouraged to pursue growth within the Head Start/ECEAP organization. A quote by Steven Spielberg encapsulates the mentorship she has offered: ‘The delicate balance of mentoring someone is not creating them in your own image, but giving them the opportunity to create themselves.’”
Allen said the best part of the job for her was the support provided by CCS as the program grant administering agency and the community partnerships that have allowed Head Start to meet the needs of the families it serves.
Head Start is a federally funded preschool program for children ages 4 and 5 that currently serves 669 children in Spokane County. The state-funded version of Head Start - ECEAP -- has room for 845 children and a number of community partners provide the preschool education.
When the Early Head Start program started 25 years ago to serve prenatal to age 3 Spokane was one of the first 64 communities in the nation to have one, Allen said. Thanks to some success in getting grants, it has grown by 65 percent in the last five years and now serves 322 students. Head Start agencies compete with each other for available funds from Congress.
“Our staff have a real passion for doing this work,” Allen said. In retirement, she is looking forward to her youngest daughter’s wedding in May and spending more time with her two young grandchildren, ages 3½ and 10 months.