In October, 2011 the National Head Start Association premiered the “One Window of Opportunity” animation, sparking a discussion about how Head Start itself is a window of opportunity for children and families–and how critical it is to keep that window open in a time of growing poverty and need. As part of the Keep the Window Open campaign, Head Start parents, alumni, staff, volunteers and citizens have been invited to share their stories. We’re delighted to bring those stories to you — you’ll find more here regularly, and we hope you’ll choose to share your own.
(Please note: except for minor typographical editing, stories appear as titled and written by their authors.)
I attended Head Start in Cranston, RI almost 30 years ago. Head Start allowed my young mother to continue working to support me and instilled a love of learning and public service in me that continues to this day. Now I proudly serve my country as a Foreign Service Officer at the US Department of State, representing America overseas. We are all capable of accomplishing wonderful things but some of us need a head start. I am proof that providing this head start is a wise investment.
by April Becker from Grand Rapids, MN
I became a Head Start parent for the first time in 2002 and again in 2003. I was one of those reluctant parents who didn’t understand why these people needed so much information. I did as they wished and our child was accepted into the program. Then they wanted to come into our house. This made me a little uncomfortable. I felt as if they were going to judge us. Then came the home visit and the teacher brought a book over “Froggy Gets Dressed.” She had a felt board story to go along with the book where we dressed and undressed the frog and by the end of the story we were laughing so hard, I even had tears in my eyes. Our experience with Head Start was a wonderful one, my only regret is that I didn’t get as involved in the program as I would have liked.
In 2008 our 3rd child was old enough for preschool so I applied to the Head Start program because I knew how great it was for our first two. This time they had a screening process which was new to me and this scared me a little. I didn’t understand the reasoning for it, there was nothing wrong with our child. Come to find out that he had some speech issues and qualified to receive services through Head Start. What a blessing it was. He was able to receive these services both years he was in Head Start and it continued into Kindergarten. His teachers and the family support staff were so wonderful and helped me to set goals for him as well as for our family.
They made me feel so welcome that I wanted to become more involved this time around. I saw how they worked with the children and it was so much more then teaching the ABC’s and 123′s. I found the social and emotional skills they were teaching 3 and 4 year olds to be amazing. Spending time in the classroom sparked my desire to go to school and acquire a degree in Early Childhood Education.
My twins were the next to enter the program while I was attending school. This time I took the opportunity to serve on the Policy Council as an alternate. It was so rewarding to be a part of something so important that I felt so strongly about. They sent me and the kids’ father to a Parent Power training where we got to meet other parents with similar issues and got some great advice. There were inspirational speakers, great food, accommodations, and not to mention we had a couple of days away from the kiddos together. It was so nice and greatly appreciated.
Through Head Start I learned about AmeriCorps and was fortunate enough to serve in the AmeriCorps program while doing my internship in a Head Start classroom and was also hired on as a Head Start substitute teacher in 2009. Through the support and encouragement from my family and the staff at Head Start I was successful in the completion of my degree. I graduated in 2010 and I am now a Classroom Assistant Teacher for Head Start. I am planning on going for my 4 year so that I can become a lead teacher for the Head Start program. I honestly don’t know where I would be if it were not for Head Start. Thank you Head Start for giving me and my children a Head Start!!!
NHSA would love to hear your story! Find out more about creating a video or writing a testimonial at www.KeeptheWindowOpen.org. You can also find get updates about the project by following us on twitter at @HeadStartWindow.