First impressions matter

Organization welcomes new early childhood manager

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Stephanie Howle, an early childhood specialist with First Impressions, will replace Renee Donahue as the organization's early childhood manager. Howle has worked with First Impressions since July 2005. She has a bachelor's degree in child development from Auburn University and a master's degree in early childhood education from Jacksonville State University.

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Renee Donahue, former executive director of First Impressions of Routt County, accepts a gift from Bob White, Routt County's director of human services, during a luncheon on Wednesday. Stephanie Howle has been hired as Donahue's replacement.

— First Impressions of Routt County introduced its new early childhood manager Wednesday during a meeting and farewell luncheon for former manager Renee Donahue.

Stephanie Howle, an early childhood specialist with First Impressions, will assume Donahue's duties Sept. 1, although Donahue will "stick around" until mid-September to help Howle in her transition.

"I'm very excited for this opportunity and how it all happened," Howle said about landing a job that was advertised statewide. "It certainly wasn't a given that I was going to move up."

Donahue announced her resignation in June after spending eight years in the position.

First Impressions is a "countywide organization that focuses on all aspects that deal with early childhood care and education," Donahue said.

First Impressions provides a variety of resources and programs for parents, educators and preschool employees to help foster healthy educational environments for young children.

During Wednesday's luncheon, which was attended by more than two dozen county and city government officials, educators, parents, business leaders and health care providers, Donahue said she was excited to move on to future endeavors. She also said she was very proud of what First Impressions has accomplished since the program began in 1998.

"It's all about accountability with First Impressions. All of our accomplishments show that the stuff we do is really making a difference for Routt County's children and families," she said.

Howle is eager to pick up where Donahue left off.

"I do see First Impressions continuing all the wonderful work they've done in the last eight years, as I envision some wonderful things happening in the future," she said.

Howle expects her transition to be smooth, particularly because she knows many of the people she will be working with and will have Donahue's support for several weeks.

"I'd be scared to death coming into this brand new, but I know a lot of the people I will be working with every day," she said. "It's really positive how everything has been unfolding and that I still have this time with Renee."

Howle has worked with First Impressions since July 2005. She has a bachelor's degree in child development from Auburn University and a master's degree in early childhood education from Jacksonville State University. She has worked in childcare centers and teaches early childhood education classes at Colorado Mountain College.

"Being given this position with First Impressions ties everything I've done together," she said.

Howle will continue to teach at CMC. She just finished writing a grant to the Temple Hoyne Buell Foundation for funds to help early childhood care providers take her classes at CMC.

"Now, instead of introducing myself as a part-time early childhood specialist with First Impressions, I will be able to say I am the early childhood manager for First Impressions," she said. "This is all very exciting."

-To reach Alexis DeLaCruz, call 871-4234 or e-mail adelacruz@steamboatpilot.com

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