Life takes you to unexpected places; love always brings you home.
Yesterday was my last day at work. I will go back for a few days in July, just to touch base and help out if I am needed, but for all intents and purposes, I’m done. The quote above is from a wall hanging that some colleagues got for me as a goodbye gift. A new chapter begins….
I’ve never really talked about my job in this forum. I’ve mentioned the type of work I do, but never any specifics. It seems unfair to walk away without paying tribute to the work that I’ve done that has shaped who I am and has taught me about the kind of parent I want to be. I am proud to say that I work(ed) for a Head Start program. What is Head Start? A lot of people have no idea. Most of the time when I tell people where I work, they look at me like I have two heads. Head Start is a federally funded program that promotes school readiness in low-income families. It began in the summer of 1965 as part of President Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty….and has served more than 30 million children since 1965, growing from an eight-week demonstration project to include full-day/full-year services and many program options.
Head Start is a high-quality preschool education program that serves children and their families from prenatal to kindergarten. I’ve always wanted to do work that is meaningful, that helps others, and I have been fortunate to be able to do that for the past 6 years. Prior to that, I worked in child care for about 4 years, so my dedication to educating young children has been long-standing.
Probably the most important thing that Head Start has taught me is that parents are the key to success for young children. It is why the program strives to engage parents in their education and recognizes them as a child’s first and most important teacher. It is also why I ultimately decided that being at home with my daughter would be one of the best things I could do for her and because of this philosophy, my decision has been met with affirmation and support from my colleagues. They get it.
Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons, many parents are not able to stay at home and have to seek out child care or other preschool programs for their children. Other parents want to give their children the opportunity to socialize with other children and seek out programs for that reason. Whatever the reason, it is so important to recognize high quality in early childhood education programs, because they are not all created equal! I’m actually working on a piece about that now (stay tuned!)
Because Head Start is federally funded, it is subject to strict regulation and high expectations, so its programs are very high quality. Unfortunately, they are also subject to budget cuts on an annual basis and sometimes that means fewer children and families will receive the benefits of quality education.
Even though I am leaving this work for now (they keep telling me I’ll be back), the philosophies and values of Head Start will stay near and dear to my heart. Our program director retired a few months ago and when she did, she shared this video. I get a little misty-eyed every time I watch it. It definitely tugs at the heartstrings. This is what it’s all about…