From Volunteer to Certified Teacher
by Cyndie Toth-Steiniger
In 1987 I enrolled the first of my four children in the local Head Start program. Throughout his year in the Head Start program I was encouraged to become involved in the program as a volunteer. I spent many hours helping in the classroom and outside of the classroom. I was able to observe and learn from the teaching staff. By the time my third child was attending Head Start I had become pretty comfortable in the classroom and was able to complete a substitute associate course that enabled me to sub in the classroom as needed. My Familiy Advocate at the time (Sharon Collier) was a great encourager! She encouraged me to become involved in our Center Committee, Policy Committe and Policy Council where I become a voting member on each board. As my forth child was transitioning out of the program and heading on to Kindergarten I was encouraged by the Classroom Teacher, Teacher Associate and mostly by my Family Advocate Sharon to continue to participate in the Head Start Program as an employee. Sharon sat with me and assisted me in completing my application. I did become an employee of the Head Start program and have continued that employment for the past 17 years. I started as teacher associate and eventually transferred to a Family Advocate position because I wanted to be able to give that encouragement and feeling of importance to other families that I had recieved. Throughout the years of my employment I was continually encouraged by the teachers that I worked with and by the Head Start Coordinator Nancy Duey to return to school and earn a teaching degree. I did take their advice and enrolled in a teacher education program.I continued to work full time while raising my children and completed a Bachelor of Arts Degree. I currently have a PreK thru 3rd grade teaching license with a K-8 Reading Endorsement. I encourage Head Start to maintain a strong support of the program and to always remember the important work that is done through the family Advocates engaged in the Head Start Program.
by Michelle Buehler
My daughter started in the early program at age 2 and was there until she started Kindergarten. Without Head Start programs she wouldn't be where she is now. We never could have afforded to send her to preschool. She is in 5th grade now and at the top of her class. She is reading 1-1 1/2 times her grade level and excels in all her other classes too. It taught her to be independent and follow rules. This is an incredible program.
My Child and Head Start
by Lorie Howery
My son is 30 years old, he has a 9 year old son. My son attended Head Start. I am employed at WCCA Fremont Co Early Head Start. My son told me he is proud of my accomplishments and I told him I was proud of him too. He works full time and is attending classes to continue his education. His preschool education with Head Start helped him get where he is today!!!
Head Start Parent
By Tammy Sila
My first experience with Head Start was when I attended the Moorhead center. I still fondly remember doing Billy Goats Gruff puppet plays, climbing on the tire horse, and playing in the "marching band." It was my first experience in a group situation.
Later all three of my sons attended the same center. I attended policy council and volunteered some in the classroom. Seeing the positive growth in my kids got me interested in working with children. I started reading books about early childhood development. It was then that I learned that my Grandmother had been one of the first cooks for Head Start before she passed away.
Initially I watched did babysitting for neighborhood kids and worked a short time at a daycare. I decided I preferred to stay at home with my kids and started a home daycare. Later we adopted our youngest daughter and started her in our local Head Start. I became interested in getting my A.A. in child development. I needed a classroom to do some assignments in, so I asked if I could do them at the Head Start center. I enjoyed it and continued volunteering some.
That spring we had a tornado go through town that destroyed my front yard, fence, shade trees, and play area. I ended up closing my daycare and going to college full-time for the semester. I did my classroom experience at head start again. During this time there was some staff changes, illness and accidents, so I was asked if I wanted to fill in. Shortly after that a full-time teaching spot opened up in one of the local classrooms. I had enjoyed working in the center and since my kids were older, I agreed to interview for the position.
I was very excited to hear that I got the position. This last year we moved to a different location and combined classrooms to make an open concept center. The new classroom is a beautiful place to attend that the children seem to love. It has been such a blessing to find work in way that is so rewarding.
Now or Later?
by Brad Bergeson
First, I worked with adults and families as an addictions counselor. When I became a mental health counselor, I got to help some people who were very confused and hurt themselves or other people. Change is difficult for adults who are stuck.
Maybe, I thought, it would be easier to help younger people. For seven years, I worked with teenagers incarcerated for violent crimes. We helped some of them stay out of trouble. Most of them committed more crimes against society when they were released.
Then I got the chance to work with preschool children, helping them to solve problems before they started kindergarten. Head Start and other great preschool programs noticed that some children needed more help than others. When we worked with their parents and their Head Start teachers, these kids learned other ways to get along. Almost every child who got some help solving problems when they were in Head Start had a good year in Kindergarten! Their parents came to classes, and everyone worked together to teach the children.
For three years, I served on the Head Start Policy Council, so I got to see what was involved in running this organization. The demands are great and the standards are high. They stretch the money, and work with other agencies, to help the children.
I believe that those who learn how to control themselves, and to play well with others when they are small are prepared to do well in life. The Head Start investment in their parents and their families is a small cost when compared to the chaos and hurt that is caused by a young person who misses these lessons and who spends then next 10 years hurting themselves and others who live nearby. .
We are making a smart investment when we fund early childhood programming. The return on this investment is high: for the children, their families, and for our society. The cost of not doing this important child shaping work is too high.
Our communities and our country can make this small investment, now, or, pay a much higher price to fix bigger problems and clean up bigger messes, later. My experience has shown me that funding Head Start is the wiser move.