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Transforming Creativity for Everyone | Angeline Howell, LMHC
Angeline Howell, LMHC
With her background in Mental Health and Family and Child Sciences, Angeline Howell has accelerated Great Explorations Children’s Museum into a place where all families can come to learn and play no matter their abilities or socioeconomic status. Her ability to listen to members, employees, and community partners allowed Great Explorations to identify the community needs and how the mission of Great Explorations aligns. The bottom line, Angeline and her team want to help.
Angeline has created a strong leadership team with a variety of staff that brings different qualities to the table. Along with this leadership team, decisions are made to meet the needs and gaps within the Tampa Bay community.
She often says, “Some people feel that play is a luxury, we believe play is a necessity!” A leader is only as strong as the team alongside her, and Angeline finds all opportunities to bring in training or attend conferences to further progress her talents on staff. Most recently, Angeline and her leadership team participated in a multiyear training to learn how to speak the same business language, identify the organization’s goals, and establish the steps necessary to make progress. This was the staff’s training to get a nonprofit like Great Explorations through COVID. This training laid the groundwork for Great Exploration’s leadership team and this exact model is embedded in board meetings, department meetings, and staff meetings.
Angeline was born in Dallas, Texas, but her father’s job took her to four very different states during her childhood: Texas, Hawaii, California, and Florida. Each move was a life-altering, unique experience and has shaped her into the well-rounded person she is today. She graduated high school in Southlake, Texas. She attended Florida State University, where she studied and received her Bachelor of Science Degree in Family and Child Sciences and a Minor in Child Development. Angeline continued her studies at FSU where she graduated with Masters and Educational Specialist degrees in both School/Guidance Counseling and Mental Health Counseling. Following graduate school, she moved to St. Petersburg, where she met her husband and began her career as a mental health therapist.
After ten years of working in the Mental Health field, Angeline changed careers. Currently, Angeline is the CEO of the Great Explorations Children’s Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida.
For over 35 years, Great Explorations has been Tampa Bay’s preeminent children’s museum supporting practical learning applications through a proven creative curriculum. Its mission remains focused on stimulating learning through creativity, play, and exploration. As the nation’s first children’s museum to open a licensed preschool, they are proud to stimulate curiosity and provide enrichment through a carefully curated hands-on learning environment.
“As a nonprofit organization, COVID took a huge hit on us. Like everyone around the world, we closed our doors for the first time to our preschool families and our community. We had to lay off our employees. And we watched the budget plummet,” says Angeline. “However, with the strong leadership team we have in place, we quickly went into action. We applied for numerous grants, we reached out to donors going back to the basics of phone calls and handwritten notes, and we were a resource to our community dropping off STEAM boxes to entertain kids who were at home and maybe had nothing to do or play with.” She adds, “I am honored to share we are thriving now; we have rebuilt the organization to be stronger than we have ever been in the history of Great Explorations. We are sustainable and have a plan to maintain our programs, services, and our budget.”
Great Explorations have developed an IDEA (inclusion, diversity, equity, and access) committee composed of staff from all levels, board members, and community members to ensure they have the input needed to serve their community correctly. In addition, they have specialized programs for children and adults with neurodiversity, and their Great Connections program is specifically for children with special needs and their family members. “We set aside special time blocks to reduce lights, sounds, and all other over-stimulating components so the kids can enjoy and learn through hands-on play,” elucidates Angeline. “Through popular demand, we are now starting a sensory evening for adults (15+) with neurodiversity’s to come to play at the museum for free and in a similar environment to Great Connections.”
The most significant achievement for Great Explorations Children’s Museum is its accreditation by the American Alliance of Museums. This is the highest honor a museum can receive. And they are now held to the same standards as museums such as the Smithsonian, Metropolitan Museum of Art, and locally the Dali. In 2014, Great Explorations Children’s Museum was the very first children’s museum of its size to have earned this accreditation in the United States. It is still the only children’s museum in the Tampa Bay area to have this accreditation.
“We are not finished growing! Great Explorations has so much more to offer, and we are not only just a hands-on children’s museum. We also offer a year-round preschool 2 years old – VPK (Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten),” explains Angeline. “In addition, we have school-age programming partnering with Pinellas County schools to bridge the gap between formal in-classroom education and informal hands-on learning. Our outreach services last year donated over $500,000 worth of in-kind services back to our community.” Angeline and her team want to grow and offer more hands-on learning opportunities to more children and families, alongside expanding their demographics and reaching the middle school ages by providing science and STEAM educational opportunities.
“We have a plan to grow and a 10-year target we want to reach. We will get there, together, one goal at a time! Visitors want to come to St. Petersburg, Florida. Great Explorations Children’s Museum is located in St. Petersburg, Florida, which is up and coming and offers more than just beaches,” asserts the pioneering leader. “Our community is filled with arts, culture, outdoor activities, and delicious restaurants. Great Explorations fits in with our community, as it is a welcoming atmosphere and a community for all!”
Angeline Howell, LMHC
Great Explorations Children’s Museum
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