New Management at Kountry Kids
HARLAN – Long-time Kountry Kids Childcare Director Pam Klinkefus has announced her retirement, and her replacement, Samantha Nerem, began duties on March 1.
Kountry Kids is a licensed childcare center serving up to 133 children in Harlan.
Nerem grew up in Renwick and has her bachelor’s degree in early childhood administration from Purdue University Global. She and her fiancé, Stephen McAtee, a combine mechanic in Avoca, live in Harlan.
“I have always loved working with children and families, and cannot wait to continue my passion in such a wonderful community,” Nerem said.
“I feel honored to be taking over for Pam as the center director at Kountry Kids. I know how much the center, children, families, and community mean to her.”
Nerem said she is thrilled to be a part of such a wonderful and inviting community, and is ready to dive into a career as a leader at Kountry Kids.
“Pam has done so much for so many children and families, and is definitely leaving me big shoes to fill,” said Nerem. “She has been such an amazing role model, and I hope to continue the impact that she has had on the community.”
Jessica Nelson will take the reigns as associate director at Kountry Kids.
She grew up in Irwin and graduated from IKMM, attended Iowa Western Community College and obtained her associate’s degree in early childhood education. Nelson has been with Kountry Kids for almost four years.
She started as a preschool teacher, and has spent two years working alongside Klinkefus, learning about the center and what being a director involves.
“I am excited for this opportunity because teaching young children and learning are passions of mine,” Nelson said. “I am excited to share my passion for teaching and learning with the other staff.
“I am looking forward to working with Samantha to help serve and give back to the community I grew up in.”
Kountry Kids Board Member Patrick Pucelik praised Klinkefus for her years of service, from first developing the center to helping for the board to oversee its operation and work toward this transition.
“The center now has a non-profit status,” Pucelik said. “Pam isn’t going far as many know she lives just up the hill from the center.
“Her passion for taking care of children over the years is inspiring. Kids have always come first. She will be missed for sure.”
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