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Head Start class

Rich Klein teaches 18 4th graders in a Head Start classroom in Billings in this 2018 file photo. 

Billings’ Head Start program has named a new leader.

Jeremy Welch, who previously worked as a human resources director for City Brew and Home Depot, was named Executive Director of Explorer’s Academy Head Start according to a press release from the organization.

Welch replaces Traci Wimmer, who had been serving as the interim executive director. Jennifer Owen, who had led Head Start since 2014, stepped down in January.

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“We believe Jeremy brings a wealth of excellent experience that will serve our organization well,” said Dr. Erin Allen, the Explorer’s Academy board of directors chairwoman, in the press release. “He is eager to serve our children, staff and community.”

Head Start is a federally funded preschool program aimed at helping kids from low-income families, with the goal of improving school readiness and social and emotional skills. The Billings affiliate has two locations in Billings, one in Laurel and one in Lockwood that offer more than 350 preschool slots. The program typically sees long wait lists.

The Billings program has seen several changes in recent years, moving from half-days to full-days, adding slots including those funded by tuition instead of federal money, re-branding as Explorer’s Academy, opening a new location in Billings and consolidating services in urban areas while pulling out of Red Lodge and Joliet.

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Education Reporter

Education reporter for the Billings Gazette.