Screen Shot Kudo!Leslie's StoryMy name is Leslie Cruz. I’m 17 years old and I have a 7 month-old daughter. Her name is Isabella Cruz. While I was in Temple High School, Isabella was attending Early Head Start’s great center located in the Edwards Academy building close to school. The caregivers there are very nice. Ever since I met Ms. Brandee she would always encourage me to do my work and worry about my school work. In January, I started going to Edwards Academy, the alternative education center, and I was closer to the Early Head Start Center. While there, I was going to have to get my credits to be able to finish school faster.
There was not one day that went by that they wouldn’t tell me, “Get those credits done!" We would talk about going to college and my future career. That’s why I love them very much and I’m very thankful that they were there to encourage me to get my work done. There was one time that the principal was going to kick me out, but she gave me one chance--but I couldn’t miss any more days. Mrs. Aguilar (the Head Start Family & Community Advocate—FCA) was on me because of that. I love Mrs. Aguilar—she is very nice. The thing that I love the most is that she loves my daughter. I can tell because of the way she is with her. I’m very thankful they are there to help. If it weren’t for them, I guarantee you that I would have dropped out of school because I wouldn’t have had anybody to watch my baby. Thank God they were there. So the “Get those credits done” that they would say got to me and stayed in my head. Now, I have finished my course work and will be graduating soon. My daughter really enjoyed being in Early Head Start. Because of them, my baby likes it when I read to her. She has learned a lot with them.RYANE'S HEAD START STORY
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.
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.
Present: My daughter was 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 was always encouraged to explore and express her imagination. She 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 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 into a home with a back yard last year. I started school in October 2010 and now have my Bachelor's Degree 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 Central Texas 4C, Inc. Head Start Policy Council President and consequently a member of the Board of Directors. Head Start has given me knowledge, skill, confidence, and experience that I otherwise would not have been able to receive. I look forward to continuing my relationship with Head Start even now that 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 Postell, ParentCentral Texas 4C, Inc., HeadStart Programs, Temple, Texas(See Ryane's story on the National Head Start Association website at https://sites.google.com/a/nhsa.org/27millionwindows/texas )Update:
February 28, 2013Just thought I would give you a little info about Ayana now. Her teacher often says she can't believe she is only in Kindergarten. Her manners and handwriting are above and beyond those of most kindergartners. Her social skills are also above those of her peers. I honestly give the credit to Rosemary and her team at Sunset Head Start! She actually writes more legibly than most adults I know! She is either right on target or has surpassed the target on all the skills they test on. Her homework last Thursday was to read as many sight words as possible in one minute; she read 44. (Not sure if that is high or low, but I am proud!) She reads books to me now with minimal assistance. She can also count, unlimited I suppose. She has it figured out that they go in order and that order continues! She was into the 500's by the time we got home one day. She only stopped counting because we got home and she started playing!In other words, she entered Kindergarten well prepared and hasn't slowed down for a minute! She constantly impresses me. Her classroom behavior has always been on green, purple, or pink. These stand for good, better, best respectively.As for me, I have taken on the PTO presidency at Ayana’s school. The school hadn't had a PTO in years and had to be started from the ground up. It's a work in progress, but so far so good! I am also on the KISD district improvement committee as a parent representative. Of course, you know my involvement with you guys (Head Start). I also graduated from University of Phoenix in August 2012 and am getting my things together to start a Master's program in May/June this year!Something that should go on the self-assessment: Head Start helps parents identify goals and continuously encourages parents to reach them. When I started with Head Start I had to write down my long and short-term goals. Miss Chris asked me from time-to-time how I was doing on my goals. It made me accountable for my goals. I have now completed 2 of the 3 long term goals I listed. 1) move into a house...did that! 2) Start on Bachelor's...completed that! 3) Start a business...still working on it, but haven't lost sight of it!So, if people don't think Head Start is important they are wrong. This program has helped me and my daughter to grow tremendously! I know my story is not the only Head Start success story, there are many more.Here is a picture I took the other day after watching The Lion King play in Austin. I think it makes me think of Ayana's climbing to new heights! Or, tree hugging...either one is good with me! :)
ANICHA'S HEAD START STORYEvery Day & Every Year is a New ExperienceI 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 assisting teachers 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 received commendations 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 TeenLeadership 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 identifyour 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
(See Anicha's story on the National Head Start Association website at https://sites.google.com/a/nhsa.org/27millionwindows/texas )