We all win with Head Start

By Brenda Murphy

I was a very young mom (16 at first child's birth), and had two very active boys and a baby girl by the time I was 21. I wanted to everything on my own, because you know I knew everything. I was struggling with parenting, relationships, jobs, bills, pretty much every part of life as an adult. I did not know it at the time but I needed help. To get at least one child out of the house for a while I sent him to Head Start. He learned how to get along with others and he was getting along with his brother better. I started volunteering and attending parent meetings and workshops. It was the best thing for my little family. I learned that I was not the only one going through hard times. I got help (that I didn't know I needed) not only from teachers and advocates but also from other parents. We teamed up, made long lasting friendships and helped each other out even after school got out. My other child also attended and my life just kept getting better and I was getting stronger.

It has been 23 years that I sent my first son to Head Start for the first time and today he is a very successful contractor with a degree, and married with three beautiful children. My second son went to Head Start 22 years ago and he is a very successful High School also with a degree, married with two beautiful children. My daughter attended Head Start 20 years ago. She will be earning her degree this coming spring from OSU. She will start her career job as a personal trainer in September. 

During this journey, 17 years ago I began a long lasting relationship and we have a daughter together, she is only 11. She attended Head Start. I know she will also be successful, because I'm a much better parent today then I was back in 1989.

My grandchildren do not qualify for Head Start, but they are still getting the benefits. They the Head Start ways from their dads and through talk my daughter in-laws learn the best way to parent by what I have learned and how I raised my children with my knowledge from Head Start. They value what I have taught them and use some of the Head Start methods. I want the best for my children, grandchildren, and every child that comes into my life in every way.
Today and for the past 21 years I have worked for this wonderful program that has changed my life, my children's life and now my grand children's life in so many ways.

Head Start does make a difference, it can be a direct difference, or an indirect difference but the difference is there. Our country needs Head Start to stay strong for the millions of children today that will change our country in the future.


3 Productive Men and Women

by Rochelle Karber

Just wanted to tell you how much Head Start meant to my children and I. I have 3 children that went through head start, not only did head start help identify learning disabilities in 2 of my children but they also helped by giving us the tools to help make them productive individuals. Head start works together with the family and helps foster the idea of the parent becoming their first teacher. I had awesome experience with the Head Start program, they helped me and my family as well as my children that they had as students. I served on Policy council and also as the president of our parent committee. 
And now almost 20 years later I am an assistant teacher for the same Head Start that my children attended...My children are the product and wonderful men and woman and now I get to be a part of that same cycle, building and fostering relationships within families to make them just as strong and productive as ours.

Thank you Head Start for being there for us!
Rochelle Karber 
Clatskanie, Oregon 

For My Daughters

by Ray Cline

We first heard of Head Start  6 ysars ago when my daughter Katy was diagnosed with speech difficulties. Head start was recommended and I had never heard of the program so I told my wife no. I felt she could not speak clearly and kids can be mean and as a father I wanted to protect her. After a couple of weeks of convincing we came up with a compromise and said we will try and if it dosen't work we will pull her out. My wife and I wanted to be a part of her educational life so we joined the policy council.

The first year went by and I saw my daughter grow leaps and bounds. The first two months of school she would not go and play with the other kids and it was teacher Nancy who sat with her  while she watched the other kids. She finallly made it out to the playground. At the start of the second year another little girl sat on the steps and watched the kids play and my daughter katy went up and said, "Hi I am Katy I am going to be your friend let's play." 

This program has been  the best thing  for our family,  I now have two kids who have graduated from Head Start and one who is starting her second year in September. She also has speech difficulties but has improved already because of Head Start. After the first year I went on to be the policy council chair, parent Rep. to the state of Oregon then rep. to region x and ended as the parent Rep to the N.H.S.A. I now sit on the board of Directors fo CCCCHS and I do this because I feel I owe Head Start a debt. I love Head Start for everything they have done for our family and am forever in their debt. The services Head Start offers are top of the line and I can talk about Head Start for hours. Thank you all for everything.

Synova, Head Start Mom & Staff

How I Found Head Start

by Bernadette Crepeau

Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY of immigrant parents, we lived below poverty guidelines. As a child, my family never asked for or was offered federal or state assistance. Always hungry, often homeless we learned many lessons but the confidence and self-assurance I learned as a Head Start parent was a  gift that assured that I, or my children would never be homeless again. This is my story of how I found Head Start years after marrying and moving to my dream home in the country.  


“Wait here please, they will call you soon.”

I nod in response, afraid to trust my voice, as they adjust my microphone.  Can I do this, Dear God, I am so scared.  Have I ever been this scared before?

As if in response to my unspoken question, memories I thought were long gone come as if I’m watching a video of my life.  

I could see our two story home with its green and white siding that was set on a hillside.   The large barn at the end of the long drive only housed Uncle Felix’s unruly cow but had room for many more.   The apple orchard filled up most of the back ten acres.    I smiled as I remembered my father pulling my two year old Bridget on the old snow sled and the joy of bringing home our miracle baby, Bunny, the newest member of our growing family.  

Then the scenes appear as if I’m on a tour of my Pennsylvania home including its newly remodeled bathroom and kitchen with brand new appliances.  The dining room set that I spent weeks refurnishing to be perfect.  All were state of the art, beautiful, expensive things that we had to have right away.  The credit was so easy to get.  Bill had a terrific job at the mill.  The same mill his father worked at for over twenty years.  We all thought he would do the same, and we would have plenty of time to pay off the many upgrades. 

Then the lay-offs began.  Bill hadn’t been there long.  The company that welcomed the returning vets was now laying them off in the dozens.  The months of worry, the horrible phone calls from bill collectors, the day they repossessed our cars, the pain and humiliation returns. 

Bill had always been shy and quiet, but each day he took the old station wagon he purchased from a friend for $100.00 to the nearby towns to look for work but with no luck.  He even contacted his old Army buddies in other states and finally he heard from a fellow in Essex Junction, Vermont.  His company needed Bill’s mechanical skills to repair Ski-Doo snowmobiles.  We packed everything we could think we would need for a cold Vermont winter in the old station wagon and headed north.  We had plans of returning home at the end of the winter, with enough money to pay off our long overdue bills. 

Two states away, the car came to a stop.  Bill had to find a place out of the cold snow to work on it, and all I could think of was asking a church if we could use their garage.  The girls and I were warm as we sat in the heated church garage, but it was many hours before the parts could be found, and the work completed.  

Our neighbor, Sandy, had given me a jar of her homemade cherry preserves, and when I gave that to the priest as a thank you, I silently cried.  When we pulled back onto the highway, I shook with unshed tears; somehow giving away that jar of preserves was the most painful thing imaginable.  It was as if I turned over the key to my dream home and life as I knew it.  All that I had known was gone.  I was frightened of the future. 

Only a few hours later as the car began to sway, I noticed that Bill was falling asleep at the wheel.  He wouldn’t think of stopping.  He was pushing himself to keep his appointment in Vermont, but the snow had other plans.  Soon we had to stop and spend some of our savings on a motel room and food.   After a few hours of warm sleep, we were back on the road and found an inexpensive motel outside of Burlington, Vermont and paid for a week.  We unloaded the car and Bill called his friend to apologize for the delay and get the name of the company he was to report to, but his friend was busy and could not come to the phone.  After many calls with no response, we realized that his friend was not going to call him back, that the job had been given to another.   

Bill searched the local Classified Ads as I found ways to entertain a two and three year old in a motel room.  The economy had hit Vermont as badly as Pennsylvania, and there were no jobs available.  Soon my shy husband was talked into a job as a vacuum cleaner salesman.  With the promise of large commission checks, we were able to move to a small trailer in the back woods of Vermont many miles from Burlington.  It was all we could afford but we could move as soon as he earned his commission.  

The checks were few and far between, but we managed to pay rent, and buy some food.  Then the final storm of the year hit and we woke to several feet of snow.  The car would not start and even if it did we had no way to get to town on an unplowed road.  No car meant no work, and the weeks went by.   We could not pay rent, had no way to call Bill’s employer and our savings was gone.  As soon as the roads were clear, we again packed up the now working car and drove out of the woods.  

Funny I had not noticed how beautiful this area was; perhaps after months of isolation I was ready to notice the beauty around me.  Ice coated every surface.  Icicles hung from every branch.  We were approaching a road that was covered in a canopy of trees.  As we were entering, the clouds moved, the sun reflected off the ice, and we found ourselves in a rainbow.  I smiled as this memory appeared in all of the glory that was before me.  It was April in Vermont; we had little gas left in the car and few groceries, no place to live.  As we drove into the rainbow, I felt the beauty around me and began to have hope. 

Somehow Bill found a campground on Lake Champlain.  A Frenchwoman, even shorter than my 5’5” showed us a place we could put our tent next to the bathrooms, only a few feet from the dock and the still frozen lake.  I don’t know what arrangements Bill made with her, but after spending many hours in a car with two little girls who wanted to run and play, the idea of a tent felt like heaven.  I had never slept in a tent before in April and could not believe how cold the still frozen ground could be.  No matter how many blankets, and body heat, I could feel the cold in my bones.   

Bill was in his element, he somehow made a fishing pole.  We had a fire going, and fish to eat.  The kids were running and playing.  The scenery was spectacular, and things looked brighter.  The months went by, and we were doing okay.  We were less than five miles from the city of St.  Albans and sometimes Bill would walk to town and do day labor, other times the campground restaurant and the store would let me work there.  We now had enough food to eat, but I could feel the cold coming again from the ground beneath my blanket.  The summer of swimming and playing would soon be over, the hope I had carried inside me since my canopy of rainbows was starting to wane.  I shivered as my bones remembered the cold and damp of a Vermont winter.  

September was coming, and the campground would be closing.  The call we made to Pennsylvania told us that we no longer had a home to return to.  My dream home with all of our possessions had been lost to creditors.  The fear that would leave me for hours at a time was now returning in full force. 

Then the day came that I will never forget.  A stranger came up to me as I was boiling eggs over the campfire.  I had never seen her before; she was not a fellow camper.  She never introduced herself, just handed me a very tiny slip of paper that had been torn from an envelope.  I looked at the paper and saw a phone number.  She said, “Please call this number they will help you. ” She handed me a coin to pay for the call and walked away.  

Bill always took care of things, but he was away looking for work.  I walked with my daughters to the nearest phone and called the number I was given.  I know now that the woman who handed me the phone number must have spoken to the person on the other end of the phone because all she asked me was where I was living and she then told me that she had an apartment I could stay at if I could get to town and speak to a Social Worker.  

After that call, my life changed so fast it is still hard to believe.  Within a week, we had an apartment, we were both employed in government training programs, and our children were enrolled in Head Start, a program that would change my life forever.  


I was still smiling when the assistant came back, “Is your mike in place”.  Yes, I answered with a smile and confidence that my memories had given me. Head Start not only taught my children, but also gave me the confidence I would need to live my life.

I could hear the host announcing, “Let us welcome to Good Day Oregon, Bernadette Crepeau, a former Social Worker, Teacher, Motivational Speaker and author of ‘The City of Bargains.”

Raneisha, Head Start Mom


by Katherine Hobson

Years ago I went through Head Start in Springfield, Oregon. I can still remember things that I did back then which has been 21 or 22 years now: I rode a horse with my two wonderful teachers Debbie and Diana; they were also my brothers' teachers, they truly cared and always showed it. I have pictures of the fun things that I got to go through and how happy I was being there. With that I always hoped that if I had a child they would go into Head Start as well wherever we lived. And this year my daughter Keeley who was four at the begining of the year got that chance because they opened a new site on my college campus. 

I go to LBCC (Linn Benton Community College) and they have a site for students who are parents as well. Keeley got into the Seahorse class with teacher Amie and teacher Leslie. And they have improved her life. 

To really understand I will explain that a year and a half prior to that Keeley was put on an IFSP for speech delay and behavior issues. She was quite behind in her speech. She went to a nice little pre-school last year but that was only 2 1/2 hours a day for two days a week, not a lot. This is an all day program that she is in right now and she has improved to the point that she is going to be tested out of her IFSP and they don't see any more delay in her speech, the teachers have helped her with so much. I go in and volunteer whenever I can. Keeley is a happy little girl who listens to the rules and while watching them I am learning new techniques in how to deal with the outbursts at home. It is just Keeley and me at home and finding ways to help her "calm her body" when she is really upset and doesn't know what to do means so much. I don't think I could ever tell anyone how much each and everyone at the center has helped and been so personable. Starting with my family avocate who is always there when I need her, to the wonderful ladies in the front desks, and the teachers that have impacted not only the life of my now 5 year old but me, her almost 26 year old mom. 

Deanna: Alum, Mom, & Staff

Deanna: Alum, Mom, & Staff Pt2


by Lillian Titus

I have held many hats in Head Start from Secretary to Health Specialist,  and have seem so many wonderful things that have happened in the life of our children. Many children who come from a Spanish dominant family are bi-lingual by the time they have completed 2 years in our program. Then they become the interpreter for their family and I have seen them interpret for the children in the classroom who still are learning english. How awesome is that!

I know we have helped families to find good Doctors and Dentist as some parents are afraid to take their children to the Dentist because of a bad experience, but with patience and guidance from our homevisitors they finally over come that fear. Our parents are so thankful that they can leave their children in a healthy, growing enviorment while they go to college. Many parents who were HeadStart parents actually have become part of our Head Start staff.  

I can truly say Head Start is an wonderful opportunity for any child.

Respectfully submitted,
Lillian Titus

Stephanie, Head Start Mom

What a Difference!

by Alyssa Foshee

Five years ago I was living in transitional housing after being homeless.  My son was accepted into Head Start while I was at home with my newborn daughter.  After about 3 months of volunteering in the Head Start classroom I was eager to be more involved.  My family advocate notified me of a position that I should apply for within the agency.  I applied and was hired and have been employed here ever since.  My life has improved dramatically and I have been a strong advocate for Head Start ever since.  My newborn daughter graduated from Head Start last fall.  Both of my children began Head Start with speech delays.  Neither of them have those delays now.  My son, who is now ten years old, still remembers his experience and teachers from his Head Start classroom.  He frequently tells me that he wishes he could go back to school there.  Head Start has made such an impact in my life and the life of my children that I am forever grateful.  It has given us opportunities that we would have never had otherwise.  Thank you for supporting our Head Start programs and supporting us all!

Lydia, Head Start Mom Pt1

Lydia, Head Start Mom Pt2

Raul Larios NMSHS Intern - "I'm studying to be a neurosurgeon"


By Deanna B.

My son is a current student for Head Start and through health screenings they perform at the beginning of each school year, they found that he has hearing issues. If he was not in Head Start, this is something that would have been unnoticed until he was school age possibly hindering his development.

The Smallest Things In A Childs Life Often Make The Biggest Difference

By Deborah Mandero 

I was a young, single parent of 2 young daughters. My oldest daughter, Tonya was accepted into the Head Start program in Sutherlin, Oregon (the year was 1979 or 1980), that was when I became a Head Start parent. Then my youngest daughter, Lianna, was accepted when she was 4 and went for 2 years (1981 and 1982, or there abouts). They learned many things while enrolled in this program, and as a young parent.....so did I. Advance many years later. My young grandson, Malachi was accepted into the Head Start program (2005 and 2006 I think), and yes, still in Sutherlin. He was able to attend 2 years also, just like his mom, Lianna. Lianna was a young single parent, and they provided much support not only for my grandson, but for my daughter. My 2 daughters and my grandson, I believe benefited from attending a preschool program . They were not afraid to start/attend school, they did not struggle in school. My 2 daughters had good study habits and earned good grades. My grandson is in 5th grade now, and at the top of his class. He acheives high test scores, and does not struggle with math, spelling, or reading. They all had/have wonderful social skills. I clearly believe that Head Start benefited my 2 daughters and grandson, not only in their academics, but in life skills also. Fast forward to 2008. The company that I had worked for, for almost 15 years, permantly shut their doors, putting over 300 people out of work, including myself and my husband. They did offer us retraining thru the Trade Act, which I decided to accept. I started classes in 2009. My chosen "new" occupation, was Early Childhood Education, I worked hard for 2 years (trust me, it was VERY hard going back to college at the age of 52. I had planned on retiring from that job, and hadn`t been to college since the 1970`s. It was very intimidating, but after the first term, college life got easier.....and I discovered that I loved learning :) I graduated with my Associates Degree in Early Childhood Education in June 2011. During my college time, I had to do 60 hrs per term of practicum in an early childhood setting. I chose Head Start. In my fourth term, I applied for a teacher`s aide position with Head Start, and got the job!!!! So now I not only had been a Head Start parent, and grandparent, but I was an employee. I worked for 1 1/2 years for Head Start, and even though my path has led me someplace else (running my own preschool/child care), I so believe in that program. Their are so many young lives and families whose lives Head Start has touched (including mine). Please don`t shut them down, please don`t take their money away. They are needed.....more than you know. The economy has affected so many people, and has so changed and hurt so many lives, don`t let it hurt children and their families anymore than it already has, by taking away from this program in anyway. This program was there for me....as a mom....as a grandparent....and as an employee.

Thank you for listening.

Head Start is a wonderful program that works!

By Kindwyn Hoge

My son is in his last year of Head Start. If it weren’t for this wonderful program we wouldnt have been able to afford to send our son to preschool as my husband is a disabled veteran and I am also disabled and am legally blind. My son is an only child our miracle boy Head Start has been wonderful he has learned how to socialize and problem solve and how to be a friend with his peers. He has learned his alphabet, how to count, he has learned some words in spanish so that he can better socialize with other hispanic kids and develop lifelong friendships and learn how to appreciate other cultures. They even have taught my son a little bit of sign language which is wonderful. They have taught my son how to use a pencil and practice writing his name so that when he goes to kindergarten he can have an easier time being able to do writing practice. They teach children about nutrition and how to eat healthy and try new things which is awesome because my son is an extremely picky eater and has tried new things there which has been great for him. Plus they help the kids grow things in the garden there and the kids get to make salad from the things they grow. They also teach the kids so many things that are interesting and stimulating this year my son learned about bridges. They take nature walks and learn about the osprey birds that have a nest in the park next door. They take the kids to the library and the kids get to learn about the value and joy of reading early. They teach kids about safety and have taken our son to the fire station and talked about having a fire plan and had fire drills and they learn about bus safety and have bus fire drills etc so that when the kids go to public school on the bus they will be familiar with bus safety and what to do. They also help parents and have parent meetings and try to help give low income parents resources to help us be better parents to our children and give us tips to help us to be able to help them be successful in school and have a positive relationships with our children and teach them about trying new foods together and doing things together as a family and having special night time routines and sleep schedules for them. They also have a social workers who help the families and work with the families to help give the kids resources and access to programs that might help the children and their families quality of life and they do special health and educational screenings so that if your child is disabled or behind developmentally or has any special needs they are right there to do all they can to get those kids and make sure they have access to any programs or help or iep things they will need so that when its time for kindergarten the kids and parents and teachers will have a game plan and can all work together to do what they can to make school a success for the children. Plus they encourage the parents to be actively involved in their children’s education and get involved so your children can have a chance to succeed. They also donate food and clothes and diapers and formula to the families. They do so much you would have to write a book about what a wonderful program this is. My son loves everyone at the Head Start he goes to in Seaside, Oregon the staff love those kids and put their heart into their jobs and do everything they can. to help set the foundation to help set a positive tone for the children when it comes to going to school that lasts a lifetime. It breaks my heart to think that next year and in the future other low income preschool age children like my son might not get that chance to have this much needed wonderful experience and a chance to get that Head Start in life they need. I created a online petition also to hopefully try to do what I can to hopefully stop the Head Start program from being on the chopping block its heartbreaking and devastating to think that other little children have to suffer and not get a chance to succeed in school all because of some greedy politicians whose priorities are wrong when the children are our future and should be one of the first priorities and they have a right to have a fighting chance to be able to get a chance to become successful in school too. Its not right that just because they are poor that dont get access to a wonderful preschool like this. the link to my petition is http://signon.org/sign/do-not-cut-the-budget?source=c.url&r_by=763195

hopefully you all can help me and share this too as I am heartbroken and outraged that the politicians are so greedy that they want to sell out the low income preschoolers from having the same opportunities as other children whose parents are rich and able to give them the best. My son loves Head Start so much that he says he wishes he could go to school there forever he has made lifelong friends with the staff and the teachers and has hopefully made lifelong friends with the other children that he met through his Head Start class. I hope more parents and people can get together and do whatever we can to help save this wonderful program and get a grassroots movement to help the low income children of the future because they are important and valuable too and Head Start helps little children and parents be able to feel like they can help their kids to be valuable to society and in school and life and it helps give low income parents resources and tools so that they can feel like they can also help be good parents and help there kids be productive successful members of society. In the end if they save Head Start and not do budget cuts who knows in the future some little kids who is in the Head Start program now might end up becoming president of the united states but if they take away this program we will never know and that is a very sad loss to our country.

Coming Full Circle

By Amealia Schreiter

My grandma always talked about how lucky I was to get to go to Head Start, and how much I learned from the program. She talked a lot about how the teachers would give her and my mom information and activities to help work with me at home, and she would always talk about how the teachers would tell her something about my day every day they dropped me off at home.

My memories are a little different. I remember excitedly waiting for the van to arrive to take me to school. I remember the day I was sick and couldn't go, and when the van arrived I cried because I had to stay home. I remember being so excited when my teacher came to my house to do activities with me and my mom (many have become family traditions I still do with my kids)! But most important I remember how much I loved it!  

Looking at me as a young child it was easy to see the risk factors, and probably just as easy to miss a few. For all the things I had stacked against me, there were many strengths as well. I was very luck to have a large extended family that loved and supported me. My mom was a very resilient, hardworking, and motivated person that was willing to do just about anything to insure that her kids lives were the best they could be. I was also very lucky to inherit her resilience allowing me to move forward despite all the risk factors standing in my way.  

Head Start gave me a great foundation, and it is obvious that it impacted my life as well as my family's. I was the first person to graduate from college in my family. The cycles of abuse and poverty ended with my siblings and I, our kids will never know these struggles. There are many things that happened in my life growing up to contribute to these successes, stating that one thing made this happen would be unfair, but I do think it is safe to say Head Start was the first thing that happened. It was the program that started everything. As I look back on my life, this is when things started to get good.
Currently I work for Early Head Start. 

As an adult I see the impact this program has on the whole family. I see parents start moving forward because they are given a little motivation, support, resources, and hope. I see what these children are learning when they come to the center, and how valuable the classroom experience is to get them ready for school. My education began in a Head Start classroom and I kind of feel like it has ended there as well. I continue to learn and grow as a person and a professional because of this program and I really hope this country continues to support these services that are so desperately needed!

My Children

by Brandi Johnston

I first signed my oldest up for Head Start and we got to know her teachers and other friends at school. Then the following year my son and youngest daughter got in. My youngest was in early head start. She was writing her name at the end of the year of that and then went into head start. We moved to Sweet Home, Oregon. I got all three of my children into the local charter school. My youngest Lizzie tested into Kindergarten month 2 so she is a full year ahead of where she should be. It was all because of Head Start and the amazing staff that worked with her. My son has some special needs and his year in head start was good I was able to work with his teachers to see his progress as well as get to know the therapy providers that came in and helped with his progress. And for my oldest it gave her just enough of a jump start to become a straight A student in the 2nd grade. 

I was a parent rep for my son's site and then was policy council chair person when my youngest was in her class. Working with the teachers to challenge my children and watching their progress has been amazing. I was also blessed to have one of their teacher's aides have all three of them plus amazing teachers that the kids and I got to work with. And on top of it they kept them in the same site and that made things much easier because the kids got to see each other when passing in the hallways and the school staff and head start staff was able to work with each other if there was something that came up with one of the kids.

Supporting Life Long Causes

by Abdiasis M.

Being a parent myself. going to school and working two jobs has not being the easiest part of success. What I find out worth mentioning is the support my two little ones got from Albina Head Start, which has supported me vigorously as I have continued my studies while my kids are achieving the best of education early in  life. I didn't think that my daughter would be fully ready to actively participate in kindergarten class since she was bilingual, and we didn't have the means to provide her with early education at home. Head Start programs are the best venues that fully support parents who are also students, providing kids with the most beneficial piece of education they need in their early lives. I do firmly believe that had it not been for the Head Start programs that exist in many local neighborhoods, cities across the nation and many students  wouldn't succeed in school. Nothing is more important than supporting the education of kids in their earlier life. I would like to finish my piece of story with this quote:

"In early childhood you may lay the foundation of poverty or riches, industry of idleness, good or evil, by the habits to which you train your children. Teach them right habits then, and their future life is safe.”

- Lydia Sigourney

Sprinavasa & Jesse, Head Start Parents


by Susan Robinett

I grew up in an extremly poor family.  My father supported us by doing farm labor and my mother worked in menial labor jobs.  Since my father did farm labor, we moved many times over the years.  Of course these moves always put us into a new school with new expectations and some other run down farm house to reside in.  A result of these frequent moves was that we often missed parts of an educational curriculum causing gaps in what we were learning.  It also meant that we were always the new kids on the block.  I remember many times being harassed by entire groups of children at the new school we had moved to without any adult intervention.  In fact, I learned early that no one stood up for the poor children when they were harassed, but you could guarantee that if you fought back, either verbally or physically, with those who were tormenting you, then you were in trouble and labled as a trouble maker.  It was this experience that made me want to be a Teacher so that I could lovingly care for and guide the growth of the low-income children.

The perfect opportunity arose to do this in 1979 when I became employed at the WICAP Head Start in Emmett, Idaho as a Teacher/Home Visitor.  It was through this experience that I was able to learn a great deal about the appropriate instruction of children and families, while at the same time gaining a true sense of self-worth in the world around me.  Since 1979, I have continued to work for Head Start as a CDA Trainer, Education Coordinator and eventually as the Executive Director of MCCDC in Ontario, Oregon.  

It is through the experiences and confidence that Head Start gave me that I was able to obtain a Bachelor of Science Degree in Elementary Education with endorsements in Reading and ECE and a Master of Arts Degree in Early Childhood Education with an overall grade point average of 3.97.  Many people may feel that this really is not that big of a deal however, I was the first person to have ever graduated from High School in my family let alone obtain a college degree.  It in only through my experiences in Head Start that I was given the skills and confidence to obtain the degrees and training that I have obtained.  

Now not only have I obtained my childhood dreams of teaching others, but I have spent the last 33 years of my life watching the Head Start experience cast its spell of success on countless staff, parents and children.  I see this everyday when we receive letters from past parents thanking us for instilling in them the confidence and knowledge necessary for their personal continued growth and education.  These are skills they needed in order to obtain employment positions which have increased the income status and living condiditions of their family.  I have also received many letters over the years from past Head Start students or their families when the children have graduated from College.  

Yes, there are those who say that the overall outcomes of Head Start fades out in children by the fourth grade.  However, there are those of us who have worked directly with these families and children over the years and know first hand the many perils these children and families face everyday.  We are the ones who know that under their living conditions, it is a miracle that many of these children even live to be adults let alone to complete High School and go onto college.  We are the ones that know that success and the lasting effects of Head Start are measured in much more than the obtainment of good grades as the child moves through the school system and the many perils of life.  It is to these children and families that we take our hats off to, bow down, and congratulate them for indeed becoming productive members of society.  

I say personally to Head Start THANK YOU for everything you have done for me and my family!!!!

Francisca, Head Start Mom

Nature Versus Nurture

by Amanda P.

In the Early Childhood Education setting, there exists a battle of nature versus nurture: Why do children act the way they do? Some say children are born with set and pre-determined behaviors. Others argue that children are molded by their environments. With Manny, it was clear that his behaviors were the result of his environment. 

He was the youngest of four boys in a family of a divorced mom and dad. The boys would visit their dad and his new girlfriend every other weekend. All the teachers knew on that Monday, his behaviors would be worse. The bus picked Manny up at his babysitter's house; the bus dropped him off at his babysitter's house. There was just a couple hours that Manny and his brothers would see their mom. 

Manny craved attention. He would run away; he climb in the bathroom stalls; he would not participate at circle time; he would push the lines of safety. Even achieving negative attention for something positive for Manny. 

The teachers worked with his mom and with a mental health consultant to put a behavior plan in action. Manny's behavior did positively change. Week by week, he would try more for positive attention. He started giving hugs to the teachers and giving the brightest smile. School became the best part of his day as he was guided into acting positively.

The most difficult was the last day of school. He gave each of the teachers about three hugs each and was crying as he walked onto the bus. He has graduated to kindergarten now. We teachers can hope that he holds on to and remembers his positive experience at Chehalem Head Start.

Angela, Head Start Mom

Head Start Changes Lives

by Teresa R.

Without Head Start my children would have fallen behind in school. I am not highly educated and I had no idea how to teach my children. Who knows when they have a baby that you should read to them before they can even sit up? I know without Head Start my children would be left behind and not do well in school because as a  parent I did not know that the first three to four years of life are the most important for learning. Without Head Start many children will start kindergarten not knowing colors, numbers and how to write their names. And unfortunately many will not even look at a book before kindergarten because many parents have to work and leave children with care takers who let them sit in front of the television and that is all the education they get for their first 3 to 6 years. At Head Start they learn how to write their name and how to cut and color and paste and many start kindergarten ahead of the curve.

Tamberlee, Head Start Mom

Pleased Former Parent

by Jeannie Holton

My son attended Head Start over 17 years ago and is a successful young man who learned in the program how to be respectful and how to socially adapt to the mainstream school system. My oldest son was not so fortunate to attend such a wonderful program like this and has lead a troubled life since middle school. I've seen the difference and positive the impact that this program has had with my youngest and wished that I was knowledgable about Head Start so I could have provided the same quality of Early Childhood Education for my oldest son.

I had so many opportunities to visit the classroom and was so pleased and excited to see first hand how the program impacted the children. It inspired me so much that I decided I wanted to work in a program like this and went to school to do just that. I have been employed by Head Start for 10 years and now I get to be the person that teaches children like mine how to succeed in life.

Elisha, Head Start Mom

Head Start Works, I'm Proof!

by Brenda M.

My Head Start Story: When my oldest child was 4, we qualified for Head Start. He was in a classroom setting where he received quality, developmentally appropriate learning through play, healthy snacks and lunch, and he also received skills to socialize and be a successful person in society. He is the oldest of four and all four of my children went through the Head Start program. Through Head Start I received resources I needed to help my family, such as health insurance, food, and housing. I also gained confidence in myself by running meetings that made a difference in my children’s education. In my confidence I applied and was hired by Head Start for a substitute teacher position, I moved up from there. That was 20 years ago and my children are all successful adults and I’m still working for the same Head Start program. As I teach, each and every year I hope to reach out to and give the same support to the families I touch. I want every family to have the same success story as my family and I have had. There is life after low income and together, Head Start and the community can make it happen.

Head Start Anchored My Life

by Sally Pope

My name is Sally and I am a current HR Assistant at Head Start of Lane County. One of my favorite things about my job is that, during Volunteer Orientations and New Hire Orientations, I get to brag that I was in one of the first Head Start classrooms back in 1965. As a foster child, I qualified for the Summer program, which began just months before I was to begin Kindergarten. My foster Mother was so grateful I was able to attend, as she had several more foster children in our home, and simply did not have time to prepare me with the basics. She appreciated the kindness shown by my teacher when she allowed me to write my new last name on my artwork and papers, even though my adoption would not be legal for close to a year. 

Although my own children did not attend Head Start, my Grand daughter, Madison, did.  She still speaks fondly of her teacher and the fun she had on "Pirate Day".  As for me, after spending 25 years in the hotel industry, I am thrilled to be back where I started. The past two years I have thoroughly enjoyed bringing new people on board to help enrich the lives of the children we serve.  I am a proud Head Start Alumni, Head Start Grand Parent and Head Start Staff Member.