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Meet Our New Director – Cathleen Wilkes

Fishing with West on his last field trip at CCNS!
For those of you in the CCNS community I do not know as well, I wanted to take this opportunity to introduce myself to you in a bit more detail as I will be your new Director starting in June.

From a professional standpoint, many of you know I have a background in education. I have my M.Ed. and have taught in independent schools for 10 years in a variety of roles. I was a 5th grade classroom teacher for many years but have also taught math resource to 4th and 5th graders and K-3 science. I have been fortunate to work in three schools that, although are all very different from each other, each value the social-emotional growth of their students as well as their academic achievements. Each school also valued play and spending time outdoors – one in the form fort building at recess and a dedicated outdoor education program, another through sport and daily PE, and finally a third through frequent recess. I feel fortunate to have begun my career in education at such schools because they have shaped my view of a “good” education and allowed me to see first hand the value to educating the whole child.

It is these beliefs that led my own family to CCNS when we found ourselves looking for a preschool for our oldest after living in Utah for just a year. We were living up in Layton at the time and as we began our search for a school, we instantly knew we didn’t want him in a traditional preschool setting. We briefly considered enrolling him in a Montessori program, but after touring CCNS, we knew the sense of community we felt from the school was what our children and family needed.

On a more personal level, I grew up outside of Washington DC in Northern Virginia and continued to live in the state until the Air Force stationed my husband in Utah. We then excitedly made the move West eager to enjoy the region. My husband and I have three children: two boys, West (5) and Parks (almost 4), and our daughter, Willoughby (2). Our family loves exploring all that Utah has to offer, including hikes, ski maps, and camping adventures, but we also spend a lot of our free time here in Salt Lake City walking to and playing at parks, reading down our fines at libraries, and occasionally attending plays at the children’s theater.

We recently made the decision to stay in Salt Lake City, so I was thrilled to learn that I would have an opportunity to work for CCNS and continue to build the school’s programs around their play-based philosophy and remain a member of the school’s community for many more years. Next year my oldest will be in kindergarten, but Parks will be in the Investigators with Terry and my daughter will be starting in Stephanie’s 2-year old class, the Voyagers. You can expect me to be at CCNS working most days next year while my children are in class. If you need anything outside of those hours, I will be taking over the CCNS Director email in the first half of June while I am working closely with Whitney to learn the ins and outs of the position this summer. I am looking forward to working with each family more next year and continuing to maintain the great education, reputation, and community that CCNS offers!