Chelsea Bartling, interim director of UNK’s Plambeck Early Childhood Education Center, received the University of Nebraska Board of Regents KUDOS award during Friday’s meeting.
KUDOS awards recognize university staff for their professional expertise, service and “superior dedication” to UNK and the University of Nebraska. It is the university’s top staff award.
A Ruskin native and UNK graduate, Bartling was named interim director of the Plambeck Center in July 2020.
She manages day-to-day operations, ensures staff-to-child ratios are met, oversees the budget and licensing compliance, monitors the Child and Adult Care Food Program and provides orientation and continuing education for staff. Among her accomplishments, Bartling implemented four new curriculum programs and an assessment program at the center, facilitated 75% growth in staff and student enrollment numbers and promotes the center through partnerships on campus and in the community.
She also serves as president of the Kearney Area Chapter of the Nebraska Association for the Education of Young Children.
“Chelsea has been the right person to lead the center during this challenging time,” said UNK Vice Chancellor for Business and Finance Jon Watts. “As child care providers across the country struggled to keep their doors open amid a pandemic, Chelsea successfully implemented strategies to grow enrollment and quality. She has gone above and beyond to serve Kearney’s young children and their families.”
Located at UNK’s University Village, the Plambeck Early Childhood Education Center provides developmentally appropriate education for children from infant to age 6, including those with special needs. It also serves as a lab school where UNK and UNMC students prepare for future careers through experiential learning.
Prior to joining UNK, Bartling worked as a preschool teacher and early childhood specialist with Grand Island and Kearney public schools. She also served as a teacher’s aide and preschool teacher in UNK’s former Child Development Center while enrolled at the university as an undergraduate student.
“UNK is the place where I grew my love of early childhood education and gained amazing experiences. Now I am able to share those experiences and help others grow their passion as I did,” said Bartling, who is currently pursuing a Master of Education degree, also from UNK.
Her husband Tim, assistant director of digital learning spaces with UNK Online, was in attendance Friday when she received the KUDOS award.