Head Start and Early Head Start Success Stories
The Head Start program has become very important to me over the last year. They have impacted my family in so many ways. I wish other families could get as much I have this year.
Let me start with a little history. My baby sister is 14 years younger than me, so by the time she was in Head Start I was already out of high school. My college school schedule allowed me to volunteer at her school once a week. I saw how much my sister benefited from the program and all the things she learned. I knew it was a great resource for families without a lot of money to be able to give their children a head start in Kindergarten.
Fast forward 20 years, I'm now a single mother with a smart boy that needs more socialization. He doesn't know many children his age and has not learned how to share because he gets whatever he wants. I found out that our town had a Head Start office here and I knew I had to find a way to get him in the program. I applied and we were accepted for the Early Head Start program which included home visits with a worker and monthly play-dates.
The time came for me to get a job or go back to school. I wisely chose school. My son got transferred into one of the centers just in time for me to start back at school. The odd hours of my part-time job and classes allowed me to help out in my son's class. It started out with just going to the parent meetings, which I thought were mandatory, and then I started staying for circle time and breakfast with the kids. I was enjoying seeing Monty interact with everyone. I loved seeing him figure out his new boundaries.
As I started talking to the teachers, I heard about the simple things that would help them out and make their day better. I started taking home the laundry, helping cut stuff out, and sweeping rocks off the bike path. I also volunteered to be on the Policy Council for our center and go to the business meetings. As I learned more and more about the funding and everything that goes into making Head Start possible, the more I wanted to help. It also drove me crazy when I heard families grumble about having to help make snowflakes for the kids' winter party.
Head Start has helped Monty learn so much but they have also taught me a lot too. They encouraged me when classes got hard and I had a bad day. They helped me learn to prioritize what was most important. The teachers and staff have appreciated my extra help but have also encouraged me to not be a one-woman-show and delegate tasks.
Head Start started as a summer program 50 years ago to help children who had possibly never seen a book or indoor plumbing get ready to start learning. Now they serve millions of families who can not afford preschool or daycare. These kids are smart, sweet, and amazing. I wish more parents saw the wonder and pride in their children's eye when they learn something new at school.
Head Start is a hand up not a hand out. They have helped me and I am forever grateful.
(Talking about our 2015 Show the Love Social Media Campaign) "Tehama center should win the special event! My little sister use to go there and now my cousin does. My sister loved that school she'd always tell me about what she learned that day in school! She's now a third grader and still talks about wanting to go back and my cousin loves it just as much! They deserve the prize in my opinion thank you!"
"Love this company! My daughter has homevisits and they are so nice!!"
"Fortunate to be part of Tadpoles to Toads. This is my child's second year. The staff always greets us with a smile. When I pick up my child I am always informed of how his day went. Some things are just priceless."
One of our parents in the program told a powerful story relating her experience with staff at the Tadpoles to Toads Early Head Start Center. Her son came into the program with developmental concerns and mom was taking care of him fulltime at home. As a result of the support and interventions in the classroom he has made miraculous developmental strides. In addition, mom was engaged with the family services program and developed a trusting relationship with her Family Advocate. This is Araceli’s story in her own words:
“When I signed up two years ago for the NCCDI program for my son I went to the center in corning. The advocate there is Maria Lowe. So I signed up and she said ‘You’re a bright person. You need to keep going to school.’ She gave me this little flyer that was going out, from the Job Training Center saying they were helping, giving grants to people to help people who wanted to go back to school. So she gave me that flyer, and I threw it away. Well, she remembered me, and she called me that day, and she said, the meeting is today, was I going to go? I said oh my gosh, I forgot. I wasn’t going to go if she wouldn’t have called me. She called me three hours before, and I got in my car and I go to the meeting. I signed up. I went, I got approved, I got the grant. The Job Training Center sponsored my school through Shasta College here in town to do the MA (ed. note: Medical Administration) program. I did the whole 6 months of the MA program. I mean, I finished in September and I got a job in November with Aampla Health. I’m working right now in my medical field. But that first step right there, if she wouldn’t have called me, if she wouldn’t have given me that flyer, I wouldn’t be where I’m at. That’s why I say I am amazingly grateful. Because not only did she help my son get into the program, she called me and she told me remember. She didn’t have to but she did. She just gave me that help. I already wanted to but she just gave me that push that I needed. And it was totally awesome that she did that and I am so grateful for her. Its’ just things like that, pushing people to keep going further, even if sometimes you can’t find a way, or you don’t know how to do it and you need someone to encourage you to say, let’s go to night classes, let’s go do this, let’s learn this. And I think if you have someone who is pushing you to learn more, you will. They do it. Even just one person can make a difference.”
-Araceli De Los Santos
All this is the result of the professionalism displayed by our Family Advocate and the trusting relationship Araceli has with our staff. Of course, Araceli had to do the work and follow through but she is convinced without the Early Head Start program none of the progress both she and her son have made would have happened.
She is also on a mission to make education a priority at home with her husband and her parents as they lack an education and see themselves as locked into their low education levels.
Famous Head Start Alums:
Actor Chris Rock
The son of a teacher and delivery truck driver, Chris Rock attended Head Start in Brooklyn, New York.
You’ve probably seen Chris Rock on Saturday Night Live, heard his voice as Marty the Zebra inMadagascar, or seen his numerous comedy specials. What you may not know is that Rock dropped out of high school after years of excessive bullying. However, he turned tragedy into triumph, returning to receive his GED and attending college to study broadcast journalism.
This entry was posted in Alumni Profile on October 24, 2013 by Dan Benyishay.
Paralympian Bonnie St. John
Born with pre-femoral focal disorder, Bonnie St. John lost a leg at a young age. She went on to graduate magna cum laude from Harvard University, earn her Master’s degree in Economics from Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar, win three medals in the 1984 Paralympics in Austria, and serve as Director of the White House National Economic Council in the Clinton Administration!
Bonnie, Harvard Graduate, Rhodes Scholar, Paralympian, Author and Motivational Speaker, attended Head Start in San Diego, CA.
This entry was posted in Alumni Profile on October 23, 2013 by Dan Benyishay.
Basketball Player Shaquille O'Neal
Shaquille O’Neal, former professional basketball player, honorary U.S. Marshall, and recipient of both an MBA and a Doctorate in Education, attended Head Start in Newark, New Jersey.
“Excellence is not a singular act, but a habit,” Shaq has said about education. “You are what you repeatedly do.”
This entry was posted in Alumni Profile on October 22, 2013 by Dan Benyishay.