Today, Tuesday, May 5, 2020, is National Teacher’s Day. So, in honor of our Head Start/Early Head Start teachers, staff, and volunteers who continue to serve more than 1,200 children and their families during the COVID-19 crisis through innovative tools and strategies—We say Happy Teacher’s Day and thank you for all that you do. To demonstrate the impact that Head Start has in the lives of so many, we would like to share the following story from our archives. Enjoy.
The Power of Head Start
When Jeanne registered her daughter for Head Start nearly twenty-five years ago, she could not have fully understood the life-altering decision she had made. A single mother at the time, Jeanne was eager for her daughter to benefit from the curriculum and supportive environment that would lead to readiness for kindergarten. She immediately became a parent volunteer, both riding the bus each morning and helping out in the classroom. Even after her daughter moved on to elementary school, Jeanne continued volunteering, eventually taking a six-week certification course in early childhood education. When a Teacher’s Aide position opened up at Community Action Jeanne seized the opportunity.
As she continued to develop her knowledge and skills, Jeanne leveraged the agency’s Tuition Assistance Funds to attend St. Paul College where she received a child development associate’s degree and became a Head Start Teacher. “People saw things in me that I didn’t see in myself,” recalls Jeanne, “The least I could do was pay that support forward to the children and families in Head Start.” But she didn’t stop there. While working full-time at Community Action, Jeanne attended night and weekend classes at Concordia University where she earned both her B.A. and M.A. Along the way Jeanne advanced to Lead Teacher and ultimately Education Coordinator. In 2013, Jeanne moved on to the Minnesota Department of Education where she continues to serve as the state’s Head Start Collaboration Director, providing oversight to all of the Head Start programs across Minnesota.
As a parent, Jeanne is grateful that all those years ago her daughter’s future was enriched by her Head Start experience. She proudly reports that her daughter went on to thrive in school through college graduation and now has a promising career of her own. But, clearly the power of Head Start goes well beyond the kids. For Jeanne herself, who harnessed its power into a higher calling, Head Start was notably life changing. “Being an educator is not easy, in fact, it is extremely hard work,” says Jeanne, “Still, it is really rewarding and the chance to impact young lives means the world to me.”
For more information on our Head Start and Early Head Start programs, please visit our Head Start page.