Head Start: A Success Story

Head Start was the first and most important step in my journey. My Head Start experiences have encouraged me to look deeper into my potential said Jeanne, former Head Start parent and currently Head Start education coordinator.

I was introduced to early childhood education when my daughter was enrolled in a Head Start program in the fall of 1994. I was excited for the opportunity for my daughter to learn and grow. I had no idea that Head Start could benefit me, too. I began by volunteering in her classroom and discovered that working with children was actually a science.

My daughter’s Head Start teacher recommended that I take a 12-week child development class offered by Head Start. She must have seen something in me that I did not know existed. It didn’t take long for me to realize that working for Head Start would be a good fit for my family and me. In 1995, I was hired as a teacher’s aide and began to take child development classes at Saint Paul College. As I made my way through higher education, my responsibilities grew in the classroom and in the program. I earned a Child Development Associate (CDA) credential and accepted a lead teacher position. In December 2000, I earned an Associate of Applied Science degree; by August 2003, a Bachelor of Arts; and by December 2010, a master’s degree in early childhood education.

While I was working on my degrees, I took on leadership roles in the Head Start program, first as a literacy mentor and then in my current role as an education coordinator. In addition to my work with Head Start, I am an active member of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and the National Head Start Association (NHSA). I have presented various workshops and trainings at local, state and national conferences and events.

My legacy in the Head Start program is the reestablishment of the 12-week child development class. In 2009, it was awarded the Minnesota Literacy Council’s “Community Partnership Award.” The class is open to families, parents and other community members who are interested in learning more about child development and volunteering in Head Start. Through a partnership with St. Paul Adult Learning and Saint Paul College, the class will soon be expanded.

As I reflect on my Head Start journey, I know that I have the desire and ability to help children and families achieve their highest potential. I will continually increase my ability to practice and share early childhood theories and strategies to support children and staff as they learn and grow. And with the knowledge I have gleaned from my experiences, I will continue to advocate for Head Start children and families and the field of early childhood. Being able to reflect on this guides me as I continue to set realistic and attainable goals for my future.

Head Start was the first and most important step in my journey. My Head Start experiences have encouraged me to look deeper into my potential. I have learned that to be a leader you must be knowledgeable and confident in yourself and your abilities. This is the message that I will continue to pass along to Head Start children, families and staff.