Carra Godbey says goodbye to Central Montana Head Start

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Central Montana Head Start Executive Director Carra Godbey is leaving Head Start after being an employee there for 17 years. 

Photo by Charlie Denison



“I never thought you’d leave.”

That was one reaction Central Montana Head Start Executive Director Carra Godbey heard from a colleague once she made her announcement.

“I didn’t think I would, either,” Godbey said.

Nevertheless, Thursday ends Godbey’s 17-year-run with Central Montana Head Start, where she’s spent the last four-and-a-half years as director. 

It’s hard to say goodbye, Godbey said, but she’s not going far, as she will stay connected to Head Starts around the West.

“I will be working with a consulting company that contracts with Head Start to provide training and technical assistance,” Godbey said. “My new position is grantee specialist.”

Godbey didn’t see this coming, but when offered the position, she didn’t want to turn it down.

“I’ve always been interested in looking further,” Godbey said. “Head Start is more than just Lewistown, Roundup and Harlowton.”

Through the years, Godbey has been working toward this position. 

“I’ve always loved networking with the directors around the state, and, when I was elected to the regional board, I started networking with directors from Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota and other states in the region,” Godbey said. “This has expanded my knowledge and shaped my philosophy for Head Start while it’s also helped me realize I’m not alone out there. A lot of the Head Starts have similar concerns or issues.”

Although taking the job made sense to her, it wasn’t an easy decision.

“I like traveling and I like the thought that I can go out and help somebody else with his or her program, so this is kind of a logical next step for me,” Godbey said. “That being said, this is the most difficult decision I’ve ever made. There is never a good time to leave Head Start.”

 Godbey said she’s always aspired to do the most she can for Head Start, whether it’s locally, regionally or nationally, which is why she made it one of her focuses to join the Montana Head Start Association and then go on to the regional board.

Another focus of Godbey’s was to expand Lewistown’s Head Start, which she accomplished as executive director. This August, Central Montana Head Start will open a new wing, complete with two classrooms, a multi-purpose room, a kitchenette and more.

This is not the first expansion Godbey helped make a reality for Head Start, as she was instrumental in securing the Montana Pre-School Development Grant, which added two classrooms onto Head Start. Originally these classrooms were located at First Christian Church.

This expansion also changed hours of operation from part day to full day and added an extra day of school, switching from Monday-Thursday to Monday-Friday.

Looking back, Godbey said she feels fortunate to have had the opportunity to rise through the ranks at Head Start. As childcare specialist, family services coordinator, center director and executive director, Godbey said she gave her all.

“I put a lot into Head Start over my 17-plus years,” she said. “I’m happy with several of the accomplishments we’ve had and I’m proud to have worked with the people here. We have a wonderful management team and I’ve enjoyed working with each and every one of them.”

Godbey starts her new position on Friday, where she’ll be working from home. That is one of the bonuses of the new job; she doesn’t have to move. She wouldn’t want to, anyhow, as Lewistown is home.

 “I like Lewistown and I want to stay connected to the community,” she said. “My husband, Brian, and I grew up here. We raised our kids here.”

Although she won’t be part of the Head Start team anymore, Godbey said she plans on attending the open house when the construction is complete.

“It will be bittersweet,” she said. “I’m going to miss it. We’ve been like a family, but Head Start will go on whether or not I’m there. They have good systems in place and good people in place. They are moving forward.”

So is she.

“I’m excited for a change,” Godbey said.



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