Congregational Children’s Center selects new director
By Jessica King
A familiar face took charge of the Congregational Children’s Center of Ramona this month.
Teacher Mindy Tretera has replaced Patty Mussen, who retired Aug. 1 after 20 years as the center’s director.
Like Tretera, Mussen taught at the preschool and daycare center before becoming its director. Experience in the classroom is key, said Mussen, noting the director needs to be ready to substitute on a moment’s notice while also handling the center’s day-to-day operational needs.
Those needs include ensuring school records are kept, state licensing requirements are up to date and the facilities are up to par, among other things. The director also reports directly to the center’s board, which chose to hire Tretera as Mussen’s replacement following an extensive search.
The center received about a dozen applications, said Mussen. About half were screened further and invited to interview.
“It was an opportunity and I felt I was up for the challenge,” said Tretera, who was the only staff member to apply. “I feel honored to be entrusted with the responsibility and I just hope I can do as good a job as Patty has.”
Tretera has taught at the center for nearly 15 years and considers herself a Ramona native, though her father was in the military and her family had to move around some. Tretera is now raising her own three young children in town.
“She brings energy and years of teaching experience to the job,” said Mussen of her replacement. “She’s young and has more energy than I do at this point. I think the center is lucky to have her and she’ll do a fine job.”
Should Tretera run into trouble on the job, she won’t have to look far for an expert’s advice. Mussen said she plans to continue living in Ramona and attending the First Congregational Church that runs the center. Though Christian lessons are taught at the center, it is open to all children ages 18 months to 12 years regardless of their religious affiliations.
The job hasn’t changed much since Mussen accepted it in 1993.
“Technology is different and the world is a little less safe, so there are more safety issues than before, but other than that it’s basically the same,” she said. “The children are as much a blessing as always and they’re really what the job is all about.”
Mussen, who also previously worked as a teacher’s aide at Hanson Elementary and at the computer lab at Ramona High School, said it has been neat watching people who grew up alongside her children come to the center with theirs.
Mussen hopes to spend her retirement finishing projects around her home, volunteering more and maybe even traveling a bit.
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