Staff Spotlight: Karen Patterson, Eagleside Site Director
Originally from San Antonio, TX, Karen came to Colorado Springs armed with a background in education and a degree in teaching from Texas A&M. Karen had worked in child care all through college. But she had a tough time finding full-time employment after graduation. It can be very difficult, she explained, noting that “when you graduate, everyone is looking for teaching jobs.” After finding a part-time day position as an assistant teacher for a middle school in what she described as “a somewhat rough neighborhood,” Karen took a second job working nights as an assistant teacher at a drop-in child-care center.
During the day she helped out at a middle school, working with special needs kids in small groups. Then at night, she worked at the drop-in childcare center, helping children of all ages - from infants to 12-year-olds. Knowing that she wanted to continue working with kids, Karen accepted that she had to look elsewhere for full-time employment.
“I was busy and I was ready for a change of pace,” she said. “I wanted to find a career that was more stable, rather than working two or three jobs.”
Luckily, Karen came to us, and she has made her mark as a superstar at Eagleside from the very beginning! She loves the opportunities that Kids Club 360 affords her to teach kids new skills and knowledge.
“That’s why I find it so enjoyable to work with kids - because as an adult you are teaching them something new every day,” she said, “And it can be a social skill, an education skill, a life skill, anything, but you’re teaching them something that is going to better them in their life.”
“I know that when I wake up early each morning, I will make a difference in a child’s life. Every day you are making a difference in a child’s life.”
Karen understands firsthand the importance of making a positive impact on a child’s life. She admits that she had a tough time growing up, due not only to a challenging home environment, but to a slew of learning disabilities that made school extra difficult.
“Growing up, I did not have a good childhood,” she said. “I faced challenges in my family environment and in school. School came hard to me for some reason. In middle school and high school I had dyslexia, I had a lot of learning disabilities, and I had a hard time.”
However, Karen was lucky to have a cadre of role models and mentors who helped provide her with not only a solid foundation in her childhood, but a strong sense of empathy that has lasted well into her adult years.
“Going through my personal experience with my challenges helps me help those kids who face similar challenges,” she said. “I can relate, I was there once.”
As Site Director, Karen not only mentors kids, but she mentors those who work directly with them. She sometimes has to stress to adults that it is important to teach kids that it is OK to fail.
“It’s OK if you don't get it right all the time, you are going to fail,” she said. “There will be instances in your life when things are not going to be perfect.”
Mentoring could be one of the greatest gifts we give to future generations.
“Kids are literally the future of our life,” Karen said. “If you take the time to sit and talk to the kids and mentor them, just have a conversation with them, they can be our future leaders. You’re working with a kid who in 20 years could be the next President of the United States, or next council person, or next President of the Boys & Girls Club.
“The fact that you have an impact and that you are shaping these kids to become that, is amazing. And I think people, when they work with kids on a daily basis - especially with those who need us most - are making an impact and are making a difference with these kids. They need to know it.”
“We do it because we are passionate about it, and we care about these kids and we care out their future, and what they do with their lives.”
Posted on 6/14/2015 at 6:00:00 PM