CommunityUnsung Heroes


Childcare teacher helps young children and their families grow in Kalispell

Discovery Developmental Center
Posted at 4:23 PM, Jul 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-12 11:22:45-04

KALISPELL - Collette Box has tirelessly advocated for high-quality education for young children and their families in the Flathead Valley since 1992.

Box is the director of Discovery Developmental Center in Kalispell, a non-profit childcare and early learning center primarily working with children between the ages of two and five.

“Someone has to teach them how to be kind to each other, how to be gentle, you know use words instead of fists,” Box tells MTN News.

For 30 years Box has been teaching young children the difference between right and wrong, what’s helpful and hurtful.

“Just have this belief that what we’re doing is growing human beings, you know we’re not trying to get kids ready for kindergarten, I just want them to be good human beings and know how to resolve conflict without having to go to war,” added Box.

Box works alongside 14 staff members, teaching and nurturing up to 40 kids on any given day.

“Our program is pretty much relationship based because it really is the foundation for all learning, if kids don’t feel safe, they can’t learn,” said Box.

Barbara Otey — who has worked at the center for five years — said Box goes above and beyond in the community advocating for respect and professional recognition for her colleagues.

“So that our teachers can get paid what public school teachers make at the very least, you know because our job sets up their job for success,” said Otey.

Collette has taught thousands of kids spanning three decades and adults who attended Discovery as children often come back to visit and share stories.

“It’s humbling and reminds me that I’m aging, we do have a couple of families who actually are alumni who came here as a child and are now bringing their own children, so I think that really speaks to the longevity of our business,” said Box.

She said long hours, emotionally and physically taxing days are always worth it, helping children learn and grow one step at a time.

“And I just believe in them, and I believe in the importance of a good early childhood education and care, and it’s just what we do here, and I’m proud that we’re still doing it all these years later,” added Box.