Governor Visits STARS Preschool Classroom of Mellonie Roesler-Begalke

On May 3, 2018, Governor Steve Bullock visited the STARS Preschool classroom of teacher Mellonie Roesler-Begalke in Troy, Mont., who is currently enrolled in Montana Western’s Pre-Kindergarten-Third grade early childhood education program.

Mellonie Roesler-Begalke and Governor Steve Bullock

Mellonie Roesler-Begalke and Governor Steve Bullock interact with preschool students in Roesler-Begalke’s STARS classroom.

As a distance candidate, Roesler-Begalke is able to complete her degree while teaching at the same time.

“The P-3 program fits the needs of my family and my educational goals. The University of Montana Western and its faculty have structured a program that allows a mother of two, a wife, and a full-time working teacher to obtain the certification that I need to continue working with young children, which is my passion in life,” she said.

Originally from LaCrosse, Wis., Roesler-Begalke has worked in several schools, including Saint John’s Preschool and the Kootenai Valley Head Start program in Troy, Mont., the Hand-in-Hand Preschool in Caledonia, Minn., and as a para-educator in the Special Education Department at Morrison Elementary in Troy, Mont.

In 2017, Roesler-Begalke authored the grant proposal to obtain funding through Governor Bullock’s initiative to expand early childhood education throughout the state of Montana. Upon receiving the STARS Preschool grant, the Troy School District invited Roesler-Begalke to establish the preschool and become the lead teacher. This led her to enroll in Montana Western’s unique program that would allow her to be a full-time instructor and receive her teaching degree so that she can continue to pursue her passion as both an educator and advocate for young children.

According to a press release, Governor Bullock worked with the 2017 Montana Legislature to secure the state’s first-ever investment in publicly-funded, high-quality early childhood education and implement the STARS preschool pilot program.

Governor Bullock Reading to Class

Governor Bullock read the students a story during his recent visit to their classroom in Troy, Mont.

Governor Bullock visited the Troy Public Schools preschool classroom and its 15 students, one of only two providers in the community, to read to the children and participate in a roundtable with parents and administrators to discuss the benefits of STARS Preschool.

According to Roesler-Begalke, the classroom philosophy is “that children learn through play, and our classroom environment promotes social and emotional growth.”  Her classroom is set up with many learning centers, and the students enjoy several field trips to places in the community.

Governor with Student

Roesler-Begalke’s classroom features a variety of learning centers, which give students the opportunity to observe nature in ways including a butterfly emerging from its chrysalis and the hatching of a baby chick. Both of these events happened to coincide with the Governor’s visit, which made for an extra exciting day for the class.

“Mellonie is a prime example of an exceptional educator serving preschool students in rural Montana while completing her credentialing process through UMW,” said Associate Professor of Education, Estee Aiken. “We are fortunate at Montana Western to be able to serve early childhood educators across our state in meeting their licensing requirements while they simultaneously meet the needs of their young learners in their early childhood classrooms.”

For more information about the wide array of available degree options in education, please visit Montana Western’s Education Department website.

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