As a preschool teacher at Arkadelphia Head Start, Samantha Crow is now fulfilling what may be her destiny.
“Growing up, my mom had a daycare in our house, so I was always around younger children,” she said. “My mom also became a teacher with the Head Start while I was younger, so I guess you could say that child care was in my blood.”
Crow attended Ouachita High School in Donaldson where she took a class called Occupational Child Care.
“We were able to prepare activities and projects for the preschoolers and go to their class and interact with them a few days of the week,” she said. “I believe that’s the class that set me up with my future career decision.”
Crow said she knew she wanted to pursue a child care degree. She thought about P-4 education, but didn’t really want to work with older children.
“When I found out about the Child Care Management Program at Henderson State, I automatically knew that’s what I wanted to do,” she said.
Crow transferred to Henderson in 2010 after completing her general studies at Ouachita Technical College, and graduated in 2013 with a degree in Child Care Management.
“The child care program Henderson offered made my decision even easier when it came to transferring,” she said. “I had family members who graduated from Henderson, and at the time, my mother was a student at Henderson. It’s not every day you get to take college classes with your mom.”
Crow began volunteering at the Arkadelphia Head Start before she enrolled at Henderson. She became a substitute teacher in 2010. She was hired as an assistant teacher when she graduated, and was promoted to lead teacher the next year.
Crow works with students ages 3-5. She has 17 “bright and spunky” children in her classroom.
“I have an amazing co-teacher that works with me every day. We work to provide the best educational experience we can for our kids, and we also prepare them for their next step, kindergarten,” she said. “I am so much more than a teacher to my kids. I am a supporter, a friend, a leader, a counselor, a caregiver and an encourager. I am Ms. Sam.”
Every day is a new day with the children, Crow said.
“You learn something new all the time. From the moment I walk into my classroom to all of the “Hi Ms. Sam” and all of the hugs and works of art I get, that just makes me love my job even more,” she said. “To know that I am making a difference in my students’ lives and starting their educational foundation strong makes me really pleased with the career I chose.”
Crow said she is a single mother with a three-year-old daughter that “is my world.”
“Everything I do is for her,” she said. “I’ve always been a down-home southern girl who hunts and doesn’t mind getting my hands dirty. Most people don’t know that my family and friends call me Ellie Mae because of my extreme love of animals. I have dogs, cats, horses, turtles, snakes, a bearded dragon, a squirrel and a raccoon.”
If she hadn’t majored in childcare management, Crow said she may have become a veterinarian.
“I’ve always had this strong passion for animals. Ever since I was young, animals have been my thing,” she said. “I regularly rescue orphaned babies that have lost their parents and nurse them back to health. I’ve worked with rabbits, squirrels, raccoons and opossums.
“I rescued an orphaned squirrel on campus by Proctor Hall one year. I took him to class in my pocket and even named him Henderson. My professors were always expecting to hear about my pets or see me bring them in for ‘show and tell.’”
Crow thanked her professors who “really made my college experience amazing.”
“Dr. Connie Phelps, Dana Horn and Dr. Patti Miley, being in your classes really molded me into the person and teacher I am today,” she said.
• This alumni feature is part of an ongoing project featuring Henderson’s outstanding undergraduate and graduate academic programs.