Eleazar Gutierrez - My first few words in English were at a Head Start center

Every Day and Every Year is a New Experience

By Anicha Nowlin

I have been a Head Start parent for over a decade now. My daughter, Jamyia, attended when she was 3 years old and my son, J’mori, recently attended last year. When my daughter attended Killeen Head Start, I was a parent and community representative and volunteer. I was able to be a part of the curriculum by eating breakfast and lunch with my daughter, helping with celebrations, and helping out in the classroom. I was also able to enjoy outdoor activities like attending parades and field trips. She is older now and is a great reader. She takes honor courses, and has receive commendation for her scores on the TAAS, TAKS, and STARS tests. I am so very thankful because I believe it started with the education and learning environment provided by Head Start. My daughter is also involved in special courses, for example, AVID and Teen Leadership that will allow her to prepare for a higher level of education, whether it is a certified certificate program, a community college, and/or a university. I think her school readiness began when she was a 3 year old attending the Head Start program.
My son, J’mori, is a good speller because of his involvement within the parent and teacher framework of Head Start. J’mori took his first two spelling tests and got 100% on both of them. One of them involved his knowing and spelling his colors. J’mori has been taught by “the best” at Sunset Head Start in Killeen. He entered kindergarten counting to 35 or higher, identifying shapes and colors, knowing his ABC’s, etc. He loves to read and he enjoys putting puzzles together too. He has learned good hygiene and safety methods: for example, riding in the car wearing a safety belt; behavior on a bus; washing hands, brushing teeth, looking both ways for traffic before walking across the street; being able to identify our heroes and their safety equipment; ( fire fighters, police officers, Army personnel, medical personnel, etc.). J’mori is very social and polite and was able to make another student feel welcome by being his friend at his elementary school. I believe he was able to do this by being a Head Start student.
I have dedicated my time to the Head Start program by being an engaged parent and a community representative (Secretary) on the Policy Council and feel like I am a part of the Head Start family. I attend parent and committee meetings. I believe it starts right here with the Head Start program. Head Start now offers an Early Head Start program for our younger children ages 0-3 years of age. The children are able to develop physical and social/emotional skills by engaging with others and getting a “head start’” on language development.
I think Head Start is where education begins and the journey is endless through education and training. I am a proud parent and member of the Head Start program.

Thank You!
Anicha & Family

Anichas Family
The Nowlin Family

The Push to a Better Life

by Sammy Benavidez

Hello, my name is Sammy Benavidez. I was born March 8, 1993 to Oscar and Alma Benavidez. My mother was and continues to be a strong Hispanic woman that, while pregnant, performed her daily duties picking crops. I was born into a family in which my parents had little to no education and could not afford to enjoy the luxuries of this land of milk and honey. I recall sitting between the rows of sugar beets as the leaves provided me shade from the sun while my parents and older siblings worked. My other siblings would care for me until I enrolled in the Head Start Program.

As I got a little older I was enrolled into the Tri-ValleyHead Start Program in Grafton, North Dakota; I was also in Texas Migrant Council (TMC) Head Start Program in Mercedes, Texas. I continued in this program until I graduated from the Head Start Program and started helping my parents in the field work. I continued to work throughout my life until my senior year of high school, the same as my other siblings.

Migrating was a big part of my life and continues to be as my parents carry on with the seasonal ritual. I can honestly say I respect the fact that I was raised with this background; though backbreaking and merciless, it taught my siblings and me a lot about life, to appreciate what we have, and to work hard for what we want all while building character and strengthening my tenacity.

Remembering the days I sat at the edge of the rows and gazing upon my family working with a drive to better our lives, has compelled me to succeed. With the assistance of the College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP), my hopes are to graduate from St. Edward’s University at Austin, Texas with an undergraduate degree in Social Work with a minor in Psychology, continue on to complete my master’s in Social Work, and pursue a Ph.D. The struggles that my parents underwent will not go in vain. I understand that I am a change agent and my inspiration is to create change for the betterment of the underserved.

Building a Legacy

by Mark Durfee

I was enrolled in Head Start in the fall of 1972 (8th year of the program) shortly after my parents divorced.  My father was shot and killed in 1974.  My mother did the best she could with the resources available.  Head Start helped fill some gaps she was unable to fill.  

I graduated from high school and entered the U.S. Army where I served honorably from 1986-1994 serving in South Korea and the Republic of Panama.  I used my G.I. Bill to obtain a BA in Business Administration with Marketing specialization from Texas Lutheran University in 2000.  I went on to complete an MBA at St. Mary's University of San Antonio, a Master of Education in Education Administration from Tarleton State University and in February of 2012 I graduated with honors from American Public University with an MA in History with American History specialization.  I worked as a financial analyst for some large investment firms and as a manager for two large retailers.  

In January 2006, I answered the call to become a teacher and I am currently teaching 8th grade U.S. History in Central Texas near Fort Hood.  My eldest daughter is a freshman at Texas Lutheran University like her father.  My youngest daughter will be a junior in high school this fall with plans for veterinary school at Texas A&M Unviersity (WHOOP!) after graduation.  Our daughters were both beneficiaries of early childhood education through our local Pre-K program and because of Head Start and Pre-K the trajectory of my family has completely changed directions.  

It truly does take a village to raise a child. I recently had the opportunity to deliver the keynote address at the PSHA conference in Harrisburg.  What an inspiration to see all of these parents volunteer and staff members totally focused and committed to the success of our little ones.  Thank you Head Start!

Mark thanks Head Start for its influence on his family!

Our Window of Opportunity

by Lisa Cisneros

2002 was a crazy time!   We were a step-family struggling with two teenagers, relocating from another town in effort to have better living conditions, communting to work in a shared, unreliable car, and working extra jobs to barter for childcare for our toddler and preschooler.  Somehow I was also managing to attend college classes in effort to complete a bachelor's degree I had started in the 1980's and never finished.   It was in the midst of all this madness we realized our 2 year old baby, Michael wasn't yet talking and had noticed some different behaviors.  After several types of evaluations we learned it wasn't autism or developmental but that he did have mild-moderate hearing loss from chronic ear infections and sensory issues.  

We applied "to that little school at the church--the one his dad attended for a year back in 1968" according to his grandmother.  Michael enrolled in Head Start in 2003.  He loved going to school and had amazing teachers who helped him learn songs, letters, and how to follow directions in a group of children.  It wasn't long before Michael was using words and following the routines.  I actually finished my Bachelor's Degree that year also and graduated with honors. The Center Director at Michael's Head Start program encouraged me to apply to be a Family Advocate for the Early Head Start program so I applied. 

I started working in May, 2003 as an Early Head Start Family Advocate.  I was also recruited to attend graduate school and since I loved working with Early Head Start families decided to pursue a Masters Degree in Counseling, Marriage and Family.  

Michael is now in 7th grade and excels in pre-advanced placement classes.  He participates in baseball, played the tuba in his school band and we laugh about how much talking he does now.

I continue to work for Early Head Start and Head Start as the Family Engagement & Mental Health Coordinator and will be receiving my 10-year recognition soon.  I have a Masters of Arts Degree and am a Licensed Professional Counselor in the State of Texas.  

Head Start works!! I believe in and am passionate about the work we do and the children and families we serve.  Head Start opened my family's window of opportunity and we are flying!

The Window of Opportunity made a difference for Lisa's son!


by David Bryant

She'll be coming around the mountain when she comes!  She'll be coming around the mountain when she comes!  She'll be coming around the mountain, she'll be coming around the mountain, She'll be coming around the mountain when she comes!  

That was one of the songs my mom and I would sing as I waited for the Head Start bus to come pick me up at the age of 3.  I am proud to say it:  I am a Head Start Alumni.  I participated in Head Start in West Texas for 2 years.  It was over 25 years ago. I have fond memories of the time that I spent in Head Start and the emotion that goes along with those memories.  

Head Start truly gave me a head start in life.  As a young child l was eager to learn and loved being in school, but I had a challenge.  It was hard to understand me.  I needed to have an interpreter with me to interpret to people what I was saying even though I was speaking the English language.  The interpreter was usually my mom or sister.   I didn't know it then, but I know now that I had a speech disability  I can recall going to see my speech therapist,Ms. Robbins, periodically.  She helped me with pronouncing certain sounds and phonics.

I was excited when the bus came to pick me up for school.  I remember walking to the bus and seeing other children who were different.  Children who were deaf, or had physical challenges such as leg braces.    I did not discriminate.  It was my norm.  

The speech therapy I started at Head Start continued at every school I went to until I was in 3rd grade.  I am so grateful that I received those services and that Head Start recognized my challenge.  It helped me to do what I do now.

My daytime occupation is a family advocate in the Early Head Start Program.  I am also an ordained pastor of pastoring 2 ministries, a motivational speaker, a singer, musician, and a children's entertainer.  I credit this to my God and the head start I received in Head Start.

My wife and daughter thank you and so do I!  I love Head Start!

David Bryant

David has built a lasting relationship with Head Start!

A Difference

by Sarnie Williams

My story started back in 2001 when two ladies knocked on my door and asked about my daughters and were trying to recuit my children for the local Head Start, I had never heard of the program and quickly dismissed them as I had just went through a divorce and was trying to figure out my life (little did I know I needed Head Start more than ever). I was working at a private pre-school when I decided I need another job that had more hours. I went to Head Start to apply for a teacher asst. in July 2002. I had forgotten the recruiment try the year before, but when I walked in one of the ladies sitting in on my interview was one of the ladies that had knocked on my door and it all came back to me. Not only did I start working for Head Start in August 2002 I became a Head Start parent. My youngest daughter was enrolled and soon recived more services than ever thought of. Not only was I learning the Head Start way as a staff but also as a parent. My daughter failed her vision screening given by the health team of head start and I was referred by my family service worker, to find out my daughter had eye issues including a lazy eye. Wirhout Head Start I would have never knew this until she was older, now at 12 her lazy eye is corrected with glasses she has worn since she was 3 and she got contacts!! 

I did re-marry and became pregnant with my son. I was laid off for 6 months because of budget cuts and still remained active with Head Start, but since my son was EHS age I had to be working or going to school to recive services. I had found a job finally and my son was accepted into EHS, but then I was able to come back to HS as an Asst. Supervisor which is what I was when I left. I was thrilled once again I was back where my heart belonged. 

My husband took his life in 2008 and my son 2 years old went through some changes. EHS helped not only me as a staff but also a mom. My son was referred for speech, nutrition, and counseling. He started to eat better, talk more clearly, and be able to express his feelings with people that knew how to work with him. During this time I was moved into Center Manger position and then Regional Coordinator. My son did not qualify for Head Start because of my income but he did still need speech and without EHS I would have just let this pass me by too. I knew I wanted to stay with HS even with my children in the ISD's. I also had sit in many meetings listening to parents share their goals and the actions to take them. I recieved my CDA because it was required of me and then I knew I wanted to be more successful. In 2007 I enrolled in college to get my degree in business. I received my bachelors in 2010 and my MBA in 2012. I would have never dreamed this but I had people from HS to be my cheerleaders all along the way. I am currently a Quality Assurance Specialist and love my position with HS. I have received many blessings that I would have missed out on if I did not have HS. HS has helped me grow as a parent and as a educated person. I am re-married now and all of my children are doing great and have a great life. 

I did not sit around waiting for opportunities to come to me I went out and reached for the stars and because of this I can say my family is doing well. My youngest daughter can see and my son still has speech concerns but it was diagnosed early and we know how to correct him because of speech therpy. HS did change my life and not only mine but my children's and their children as we have a legacy now that started because of one interview that led into numerous opportunities. 

CDC Brazoria County Head Start Alumni

Product of Head Start

by Elizabeth Tamayo

My daughter attended Head Start and it was then I became involved in the program as a volunteer. I had been an abusive relationship that had scarred me deep. Even though I had remarried and my husband was nothing like my first husband I had deep scars. I was beaten up so bad one day that I ended up in a coma for two days. 

In Head Start I attended trainings for parents and it helped me come out of my shell. I started volunteering, my daughter left Head Start and I kept on volunteering as a community volunteer. I served on the Policy Council. As our program went into some legal matters with the current grantee, the parents united and we fired that grantee. First time in History that was ever done. We applied to be an incorporated agency and I served on the board of directors and became one of the founders of NINOS, INC. I have since then retired. I am now involved in my community thanks to Head Start who gave me my self esteem. 

Growing With Head Start

by Patricia Hernandez

I began my journey with the CDC of Brazoria County Head Start in 1994, first time for my children to begin school and first job that I had ever had in my life, scary experience for all of us. My first year in the program I held the position of a teacher assistant/van driver and soon fell in love with the programs philosophy of hands on experiences for the children and partnering with the parents and acknowledging the importance they have in their child’s learning. First year was a learning experience for me and was told, “If you make it through one year with Head Start, you’re here to stay,” boy did they know what they were talking about. 

I will be completing my 19th year here with the program and have been given many opportunities to grow while employed with the program. Opportunities for advancement are encouraged throughout the agency and this has made it possible for me to experience all aspects of the program. I have worked as a Family Service Worker, a Teacher, a Classroom Team Leader, and a Classroom Mentor and currently I serve as the Education Coordinator for the program. Continuing my education was another area in my life that was both encouraged and supported by the CDC of Brazoria County Head Start; I received my AA in Child Development in 2002 and I am currently working on my BA in Education and will be graduating in May of 2013. CDC of Brazoria County Head Start has made me the professional woman that I am today and thank them every day for supporting me in all of my endeavors.

Patricia Hernandez celebrates 19 years with Head Start

Head Start is Important

by Tessie Teague

Head Start is an amazing program.  I started out in Head Start 21 years ago.  It gave me a sense of ownership in my child's education.  I carried that sense of ownership from the Head Start program all the way throught Elementary, Jr. High, and High School.  I volunteered so much that I was offered a job as a Substitute Teacher, than an Instructional Aid.  When an opening came up in the Head Start Program I started as a Family Service Representative.  Currently I am a Center Director.  I have gone full circle.  The program that gave me a sense of ownership in the school, has offered me an opportunity to grow, learn, and work in a place where there is potential for growth.  Now I encourage other parents to move forward, use the program to help them find their path, and see how far it takes them.  

Peggy, Head Start Alum & Staff

Thank you!

by Dalia Garza

I wanted to take a moment to say Thank You to Head Start! I'm grateful for the wonderful education my daughter has received from Head Start, because I see growth and development from her everyday. She is doing so well that she was recommended by her teacher to be tested for Vanguard program (advanced curriculum)  for this August when she enters kindergarten!

The Start of a New Me!

by Gayle Hardgrave

In 1983, my youngest son, Daniel, attended Goldthwaite Head Start for one year.  I was new to the community and finding work was difficult in a small rural town of 2000 people.  During that year, I stated volunteering in the classroom and became Policy Council Chairperson. At the end of school parent meeting, I was recognized for my over 100 hours of service to the Head Start program.  By this time I had fallen in love with the program and my secret goal was to work for Head Start. However, in this small town, once you had a job with Head Start you rarely left.  So the odds were against me.  

A few years later (1988), my husband and children's father passed away suddenly of a heart attack.  At the time I was working in a day care as assistant director.  I received a call for the Head Start Teacher. She stated her teacher assistant was leaving and thought I would be perfect for the job. I thanked her for the opportunity but I needed to focus on my children now.  Well, a couple of weeks passed and she called again saying she really thought I was passing up a great oportunity by not applying. She also reminded me of my goal from 1983. See she was Daniel's teacher and she knew my desire to work in Head Start.  So I applied.  I got the job as Teacher Assistant and started my career in Head Start.  I stayed 17 years at with Hill Country Head Start in many positions - Teacher Assistant, Teacher Director, Mental Health/Disabilities Coordinator, Education Coordinator, and Curriculum Director. In 2006, I started my own consulting business, working exclusively with Head Start programs across the country.  In 2008, I published a children's book called Daniel Goes to Preschool, describing his first day at preschool.  My passion for Head Start runs deep and I owe my career to that small Head Start classroom in Goldthwaite, Texas.  Thank you!

Evelyn, Head Start Staff

Thrills of Success

by Catherine Early

Being a parent and a staff of the Head Start Program, I have witnessed many success stories. I was in the classroom for about nineteen years, now I am a family service worker. Have been with the program for 32 years. I get thrills just reading about and knowing about the accomplishments of the students, that I was Blessed to have in my classroom. Now I am working with some of them as parents, because their children are on my caseload, and so I am still sharing in their success, and watching their chldren get that Head Start in life also. There are so many thrills in Head Start, and I'm on a natural high everyday, just knowing that I have made a difference in so many lives. I am thankful everyday for the Head Start program, and hope it never ends.

Erika Rios NMSHS Intern tells her story

A Holistic Approach to Opportunity

Over the summer, as I sat in a doctoral- level philosophy of education course, one of my colleagues voiced a concern and doubt she had held for a long time: Does Head Start work?  As a doctoral student in education, she had heard of something called “Head Start”, but, largely unfamiliar with the program, she wondered if it was effective at positively impacting children’s lives.  

As the only former Head Start student in the class, I was presented with the opportunity to attest to the impact of Head Start in my life and that of my family.  I tried to put into words what Head Start has meant for me, my siblings and my parents.  It was a difficult task, as it is almost impossible to articulate the massive impact that this program has had on our lives.  

To me, Head Start is about education, not only the impartment of knowledge, but also the diffusion of a desire to learn, to search for knowledge and understanding.  This yearning for learning has followed me throughout my life and has influenced my academic and professional pursuits.  But to me, Head Start is about so much more than education. 

To me, Head Start is also about personal and professional development.  I have witnessed first- hand the opportunities that Head Start has afforded members of the Head Start family.  My dad learned to speak English through his involvement with Head Start.  Starting a new family in a new country was not an easy task, but Head Start afforded him with the opportunity to build confidence, to learn a new language and to become a leader in the community.  My dad became the president of the policy council and eventually of the board of directors.  Head start gave him that opportunity to that would open many more doors for him in the future.  Moreover, Head Start provided him with the tools to instill a sense of confidence upon his own children- one that we will be able to transmit to our own children.  See, that is one of the beauties of Head Start- the domino effect that results from providing the resources to one individual.  It spans across geographical locations and across generations; it really is magical.  
To me, Head start is about community.  The teachers and staff members that saw me and my siblings as toddlers are still great friends of our family.  I witnessed the staff members treating the children they cared for as though they were their own.  The staff members form friendships with the parents and invite each other to their children’s birthday parties.   Head Start serves as an ecosystem of social support and fosters a sense of belonging.

Most importantly, to me, Head Start is about family- I cannot possibly emphasize that enough.  Some of the best memories I have in my 23 years of life are going to South Padre Island at the end of July for Family Focus.  Family Focus was something I looked forward to year- round- the opportunity to spend time with my little brother, Johnny boy and my sister, Denjuami, to participate in activities with Mama and Father and the other Head Start families that comprised the NINOS Head Start family.  I don’t have a very good memory, but those special moments in my life I will never forget.  I personally witnessed the effects that Head Start had on my parents and how they were able to utilize the skills that they were equipped with to guide us, motivate us, and fill our home with love. 

In sum, Head Start is about opportunity.  Head Start is a mechanism by which those born into less economic or other forms of capital are also given a helping hand. Head Start helps account for the injustices that are perpetuated and transmitted throughout generations.  It facilitates strong relationships between children and their parents, exposes members of the Head Start family to incredible role models, provides professional development opportunities for parents, continues offering opportunities to former students like my little brother who now serves as the Vice Chairman on the NINOS Policy Council, and, most importantly teaches children and their parents to believe in themselves and gives them honest hope for a bright future.  Head Start’s approach to opportunity is holistic: from ensuring that children have adequate meals to eat, something those in more privileged situations often take for granted, to hosting activities that will facilitate bonding between family members and the community.  

I don’t believe in the rhetoric of pulling yourself up by the bootstraps, a rhetoric that neglects the impact of individuals, organizations and institutions that provide support and other forms of capital that let us play the game in society, despite that cards that we  were dealt.  My family and I were fortunate.  I was fortunate to have incredible people in my life and to have been able to start my education with Head Start.  When people tell me, “Your parents must be so proud of you,” for starting a Ph.D. program directly after receiving my Bachelor’s or for getting accepted into “prestigious” graduate schools like Columbia or Harvard (both of which I could not afford).  But I don’t view it as a unidirectional relationship.  It isn’t that I am giving something (pride) to my parents.  Rather, I am simply eternally grateful to them and to the impact of programs like Head Start that have afforded me with so many opportunities.  

My gratitude for programs that promote justice and education has motivated many of my personal endeavors. I currently study access to higher education, particularly through public policy, because I believe in the potential of education, despite its flaws, of being a universal equalizer and of serving as a mechanism for social mobility.
It terrifies me to think that other children may be deprived of the opportunity to have their life and their family’s by Head Start and the myriad of services and resources that it provides.  In an endeavor for “success”, however that may be measured, it is first necessary to enter the game.  Many children are born into a setting where they are never afforded the opportunity to play the game, though they may be perceived as having “lost”.   Head Start provides these children the prospect of playing the game.  It starts by ensuring they get proper nutrition and goes on to be a support system for families in every way imaginable.  I cannot fathom what my life would be like without the impact of Head Start.  Other children should also have that opportunity.

The Spark

by Johnnie Pettigrew

In the summer of 1965 I was a senior in high school.  Decatur ISD had received a grant to hold a summer Head Start program for children that would be entering first grade for the 1965-1966 school year.  Our home economics teacher was responsible for the program.  Those students who were doing the summer homemaking program were contacted and given the assignment of being the "teachers" in the classrooms.  We were in a first grade classroom with desks and very little in the way of materials.  This began my interest in teaching which has culminated in a doctorate in early childhood education.

My Head Start Story

by Ryane Postell

After being put on the waiting list for what seemed like forever my daughter's name finally came up. It was September 2010 when I received the phone call. I quickly jumped at the opportunity to enroll my daughter in Head Start. I chose Sunset Head Start because it was closest to my home and relatively small.

Day One:     
I took my daughter to school and was impressed from the start when her teacher welcomed us and showed my daughter where and how to wash her hands. The teacher showed my daughter where to sit for breakfast and I went in to the office to fill out paperwork. I was in the office for about an hour before I came out. My daughter, who thought I had left, saw me and said, "Mommy, go back home I'm not ready to go yet!"

Week One:     
My daughter was completely embracing the Head Start experience by the end of week one. The most notable difference was her ability to sit at the dinner table and use manners. By the end of week one she was setting the table and saying things like, "please pass the milk!" It was amazing because up to that point she never wanted to sit through dinner, much less ask for us to pass something.

My daughter has been a part of the Head Start family for a year and a half and I have seen so much growth. She has an imagination that I often struggle to understand, but at Head Start she is always encouraged to explore and express her imagination. She has learned invaluable socialization and coping skills that I could not easily provide for her at home. Her speech has improved tenfold and continues to improve daily. She is just a happier, healthier, better rounded child because of Head Start. In the classroom they often role play to teach the children different concepts, jobs, and ideas. Not long after she started at Head Start they played "Hospital" and now wants to be a doctor when she grows up. Since that day she has consistently said she wants to be a doctor because she wants to help people. I nurture this idea and hope that a seed has been planted that will grow strong. It is rare these days that anyone would want to be a doctor to help people. Most people only see dollar signs. Although she may be too young to understand the relationship between doctors and money she was quick to pick up on helping others.

For Me:        
Head Start has helped me grow as a parent and as a person. The first thing that Head Start did was help me identify my goals. At the time my goals were to go back to school and move from my apartment into a house. After putting my goals on paper and signing that paper I felt more compelled to accomplish them. I moved in a home with a back yard last year. I started school in October 2010 and am now 2 classes away from receiving my Bachelor's in Business, concentrating on green and sustainable enterprise management! I spend a lot time talking about businesses and meetings at school and because of Head Start I am able apply these concepts to real world experiences. I am the 4C Head Start Policy Council President and consequently a member of the Board of Directors, Education Committee Secretary, the Vice President of Sunset Head Start Parent Meetings, and a classroom volunteer. Head Start has given me knowledge, skills, confidence, and experience that I otherwise would not have been able to receive. I look forward to continuing my relationship with Head Start even after my daughter has moved on.

Keep these amazing WINDOWS of OPPORTUNITY open. They touch so many lives. To close even one WINDOW of OPPORTUNITY would do the community a great disservice.

Ryane helps her daughter get a Head Start

Ruben, Head Start Dad & Staff

Ruben, Head Start Dad & Staff

My Head Start Journey

by Tracey Burton

I began my journey with CDC Brazoria County Head Start in November 2000. I was going through some personal issues in my life and at the time I wanted to find a new job to try something different. I started work at one of the seven centers that is located in Brazoria County, Texas. I was hired as a Teacher Assistant in the full day class. I enjoyed learning and working with the children. I soon realized that this agency was different than any other agency I had worked for. I had ten years of previous experience at a daycare before I came to Head Start but this was not like anything I had experienced. I soon learned that we were not babysitting children while their parents were at work; we were truly teaching them skills and tools that would stay with them and mold them for the rest of their lives. But that wasn’t all I was learning at Head Start, we were also working with the families. I had never experience any program that work with children and families. Parents would come in and ask for assistance with a wide range of things like help with their utilities, GED’s, problems finding health care and the Family Service Worker was a staff member dedicated to helping them with those things. I found this to be very unique. I had never heard of a program that did all of these things. I was very impressed with what I was seeing and learning at Head Start. As the year went on I also learned that we helped the families with health services. We would load children and take them to the doctor for a physical and blood work. Wow this was definitely not like any daycare I had worked at. I couldn’t believe there was a program that assisted children and families so much for no fee. I understood that we served low income families but I had no idea of all the services they received. The year went on and I continued to learn new teaching strategies and how to better interact with the children. I truly enjoyed my first year at Head Start. Now it is twelve years later and I have had the opportunity to hold several different positions with in our organization from Teacher Assistant, Family Services worker, to Center Director and now currently Technology Services Coordinator. I so enjoy my job and the ability to be able to truly make a positive impact on the lives of children, families, staff and the community. I am so grateful for the opportunity Head Start has given me. I have learned so many new skills and leadership qualities. Thank you Head Start and the CDC Brazoria County Head Start agency, staff, families and the community we serve!!! 

Tracey's Window of Opportunity!

I live and love Head Start/Early Head Start!

by Monica Guerra

I have been blessed to be touched by Head Start & Early Head Start since 1972. It helped mold me into the wonderful woman I am today. It gave me the tools to advocate for myself and others at a very early age. I actually have the audacity to think, feel, & believe deep down in my heart that I am somebody!!! I attribute this to the wonderful experiences I had while attending Lyford Head Start. My teacher Ms. Janie Hernandez actually had us do so many wonderful hands on lessons like putting our own toothpaste- the right amount that is- on our toothbrushes, we took field trips to the beach, we loved learning!!!  I don't think these people even knew what was really going on in my home, my parents had a very violent relationship, they were young and struggling, and my refuge was Head Start. 

Growing up I thought to myself, "One day I want to do the same thing for a child that Teacher Janie did for me."  Well, one day the Area Manager at the time in Lyford Head Start called me into her office. She said, "Sweetie, I know you could have a great impact on these children. Why don't you make an application. I know you'd be a great teacher."  Well, I went home and thought about it and decided to go pick up an application at the center office in San Benito, TX. Little did I know the impact this "job" would have on the rest of my life! 

A few weeks later I went to my job interview. The first question I was asked by Mrs. Erie Tejada was "Monica, if a group of children were to say something about you, what would it be?" I said, "That I am a big kid at heart!"  I got hired soon after. This was in August of 1995.  My son  Esteban Reyes Jr. was attending Lyford Head Start at the time. Unfortunately my own family was struggling, young, and had it's own issues that were never spoken about outside the home. I also think that the program saved my son's life as well.  Although I did not work in the same center as he was enrolled at, I could tell that his self esteem was way up there and I would think to myself at times, "Was this the way people saw me as? Smart, uninhibited, inquisitive, outgoing, outspoken, ambitious, happy? These traits I attribute to Head Start, aka Head Start Traits!"  Because I really prayed this would continue for the rest of his life.

My son is currently in his 2nd year in engineering classes and I am happy to say never lost his Head Start Traits! My daughter was not able to attend and I really saw the difference in their self perception from the get go. I wish she would have had the same opportunity my son did. 

I soon became a teacher and after my first year as a teacher I was nominated TEXAS HEAD START TEACHER OF THE YEAR 2000!!!!  And I WON!!!!!!!!!!!!!   I could not fathom winning an award for doing something I loved to do with all my heart and soul!!! I then got introduced to the Early Head Start program and OMG talk about falling in love with the kids!!!!!  These years were truly eye openers. I saw so many things that touched my life, and i know i had an impact on many lives.

Now in 2012 I am a Family Service Worker.  I LOVE MY JOB!!!!!!!  I always worked great with my parents but now I am able to see so much more and I look forward to being a true advocate for these people. Sometimes people find themselves in situations they don't know how to get out of. Often times all it takes is for someone to give them a gentle nudge in the right direction. Sometimes you will find a parent that won't even acknowledge you when you say "Good morning." But, at the end of the year that same parent will be the parent that attends every Head Start function, volunteering their time at the center, ect. Now with the Abriendo Puertas curriculum we have seen a remarkable change of empowerment within our community!! The parents have the attitude "The question is not if my child will go on to college, it is WHERE he will go!" This statement brought elation to my heart.  I have seen so many things and they are all beautiful. Things that people take advantage of these people truly appreciate.  The sparkle in the children's eyes and the satisfaction of knowing that the parents are comfortable with having their children attend and that whenever possible we make a difference in their everyday lives. I have been a Head Start Child, a Head Start Parent, a Head Start T/A, a Head Start/ Early Head Start Teacher, & a Head Start/ Early Head Start Family Service Worker!!!! Head Start/ EHS is in my blood, it is the best thing that ever happened to me, my family, my community!!! QUE VIVA HEAD START/EARLY HEAD START PArA SIEMPRE!!!!!!!"

Virginia, Head Start Staff

Serving with Head Start

by Mildred Ramirez

It was 1987 when my daughter entered Head Start, a few days later I was helping the center by monitoring on the bus and helping the teacher in the classroom, then I became the secretary of the parent group, and a rep.to the Policy Council Group, Where I served during that year as a secretary.

We went on to Kindergarten, thinking that we were done with Head Start. Not knowing that soon we were going to be back for good.

In 1990 they had an opening for a Teacher Assistant, I applied and got hired, and the rest is history. I became a teacher, after that I became a Family Service Worker, after that I became a Center Director. Now I’m serving in the capacity of Translator Coordinator; so you know it has been 22 years and it seems like it was just yesterday.

My family and I fell in love with Head Start, its philosophy and serving the families’ day in and day out.

Mildred has seen the power of Head Start as a parent and a staff member!

Cassandra, Head Start Staff

Tanya's Success Story

by Tanya Smith

I started with Brazoria County Head Start in 1997 as a cook assistant. Then I worked as an infant teacher in 2002 for about 6 years now I work as an older toddler teacher with the age group of 2 to 3 years old. I have now been working for Head Start for over 15 years, I chose to work for Head Start because of my love of   working with children and families I really enjoy my job.  I have and hope to continue to have great success with Brazoria County Head Start. 

I had a parent that I would keep on encouraging her to pursue her education, I would always ask her how is her school going, if it wasn’t going good I would encourage her to study or do what ever it takes so that she could give her son the life that she always told me she wanted for him. Now she has an associate degree and she is pursuing her bachelor’s degree. The last time that I talked to her she said she wouldn’t have been able to further her education without the help of the Head Start program.
Tanya has been part of the Head Start family since 1997!

My Head Start Experiences

by Sandra Jones

My name is Sandra Jones and when I became an employee at CDC Brazoria County Head Start I couldn’t wait to get into the classroom to teach. I was assigned to the Teacher Aide position in 1992. I started working in the full day program with 18 months to 2 year olds. Man, was that a joyful experience for me or should I say for us! You never knew how your day would start or how it was going to end, however you can bet it was full of wonderful experiences and love. I wouldn’t trade that year for anything in the world! Well, I learned some of the toddler’s tricks and trades and I carried them with me to the double session to teach threes and fours.  

Now that’s when my life began over. I started my teacher role with the students I knew would one day overcome their personal obstacles and become great achievers. I knew that I would have to do my best by planting knowledge, watering with love and devotion, while giving them understanding and skills to become great successes in life. 

Well, that began my own grandson Kelvins’ journey entering into the head start program at the age of three. He had hardly any speech or social skills and wasn’t potty trained. While in the program he was potty trained and thanks to his teacher – Dodie Hall and several other loyal, dedicated and understanding staff members, he later overcame his other obstacles. He learned how to interact with children his age as well as unfamiliar adults. His speech was greatly improved!   This program – CDC Brazoria County Head Start -- was and is a great success for my grandson and me! He is now a graduate of Angleton High School and enrolling in Alvin Community College to greater enhance his skills. 

Not only did my grandson, Kelvin become successful, but there have been many others. Another memory of a child’s success in our program was one of a child that went on to receive a football scholarship to college and is currently playing in the NFL for a successful organization. So as you can see being a good role model in young children’s lives really does pay off! So I’ll close by saying, “I love what I do, but I love even more the outcome that it produces!”

Sandra has seen Head Start's impact on her grandson and many other children!


by Sade Davis

My daughter was in Head-Start for two years straight before enteriing Kindergarten.  During this time I was the secretary for the her class. I was a single parent that had been working at Subway for 7 years at the time. I ended up not working at my job, and was without a job for a while. My Aunt Keesha's son was in the program and I went to pick him up and learned that they were starting a new program called Early Head Start. They were looking for staff and said I should apply. I applied and was hired on for the teacher floater. Within 4 months of training and everything I was offered a teaching position. While working here I received my CDA. I have been a teacher for two years and love every moment of it. Its awesome to be able to give back what my child recieved many years ago. 

It Works!

by Jennifer Jacobo

At 3 years old, I was in Head Start while my mother worked full-time. I was in Advanced Academic classes throughout junior high and high school, and I am now a college graduate. I received my Associates in Accounting last year and started my Bachelor's program soon after that. Now at 34 years old, all four of my children have gone to Head Start and the youngest also attended Early Head Start here. I am now an employee and have volunteered since my children started here in 2008. I love Head Start and Early Head Start and will always support the program. Thanks Head Start and Early Head Start for giving children the power to succeed!