Testimonials and Success Stories
We are calling for your help! The National Head Start Association has sent out a request across the country to provide information regarding Head Start Success Stories. They are looking for examples of the successes that individuals, who have “graduated” from Head Start, have experienced and/or are experiencing now. If you have any information regarding former Head Start “graduates” who are experiencing successful lives within their community or if you are a success story yourself, please tell us your story!

To Whom It May Concern: May 4, 2005
I would like to introduce my family to you. I am Barbara A. Chadwick, single Mom to Logan 13 yrs, Nolan 10 yrs and Brendan 8 yrs. I am writing to share my firsthand experiences about how Head Start has affected my life. I first became involved in Tri-Town Community Action Agency’s Head Start program, located in Rhode Island, when my oldest son Logan was three years old. I was a married, stay-at-home Mom and was looking for a socialization experience for him. From the first day he walked into the Head Start classroom, Logan was learning. Learning how to play with other children his age, learning to follow directions, learning math and pre-writing skills and self-confidence. Logan learned so many things that there are too many to list. The best part about Head Start was that I was welcome in his classroom to share all of this with him.

I began volunteering and loved working with the children. The staff at Head Start encouraged me to work towards my CDA (Child Development Accreditation) and the Head Start program even assisted in paying for the required courses. I even had the opportunity to be on Head Start Policy Council. I was elected for two years. I served on RI Head Start Association as a parent representative and was elected to the New England Head Start Association. I learned a tremendous amount about Head Start during all of the time spent working in these groups.

In 1996, I began working as a Head Start Teacher Assistant at Tri-Town Community Action Agency Head Start. Returning to work after being home for five and a half years was very exciting and stressful with three little boys at home. My Head Start Case Manager assisted me in finding quality childcare and encouraged utilizing the Department of Human Services childcare subsidy program. After receiving this subsidy, my family saved over $100 weekly. My second son Nolan began Head Start at the same time that I began teaching. Logan was now off to kindergarten, which he was very prepared for from his Head Start experience. The program even provided transition information to help him make the move from Head Start to public school. Sadly, the public school was a very different experience. I was no longer welcome in Logan’s classroom and needed an invitation from the teacher to visit. Nolan, on the other hand, was receiving visits from Dad and Grandma and even myself when I could find the time in my work schedule to meet him for a family event at Head Start. Once again one of my children was blossoming under the wonderful nurturing he was receiving in Head Start, and I could focus on my work knowing he was safe, loved and very well cared for.

I did earn the CDA in July of 1997. During that time, I became a single Mother. I can’t even begin to tell you the amount of support and compassion that I received from my co-workers and Program Director. It seemed as if when my family had a need, they were there to help me find the answers. Going through divorce is truly a life-changing event. We had to manage big financial changes, and several moves and a lot of stress. I would now have to learn about the court system and child support. My Head Start Case Manager was there once again to help me through the maze of forms, questions and daily issues.

Due to all of the changes in my life, I decided to leave teaching and applied for a Coordinator Assistant position within Tri-Town’s Head Start program. Once again, I received full support from my peers. Working with the Administrative staff was very insightful and I truly learned all of the passion and hard work that goes into running this great program. The staff truly cares for the families that they serve and make informed decisions every day.

During second grade Logan was identified as having a learning disability. Yet again, Head Start was there for us, even though Logan was no longer in the program, his family was. I received information and support that helped us through evaluations and IEP meetings. I still utilize the knowledge I have gained from numerous Head Start trainings as a parent and staff member as well as an elected representative on the Rhode Island Special Education Advisory Committee. My work on this Committee is helping to make a difference in our children’s education just like Head Start has made for mine.

My last son Brendan was also accepted into Head Start. He gained a sound beginning and even though he has a November birthday, he was reading before starting kindergarten. I truly believe that he was reading so early because of the skills he mastered in Head Start. He loves school.

I have had the opportunity to apply for various promotions as they became available and by doing so have doubled my family’s income. Through Head Start, I learned about the 4H-housing program. I applied for this program and four years later was a homeowner. I do not think, without the 4H program and Head Start, that I would have otherwise been able to achieve my goal of being a homeowner as a single parent. Head Start has provided so many things to my family that it is hard to list them all. If I had to list the top five things Head Start has given us it would be difficult.

My list would look something like this:
• A stable career that I love!
• An education for my children that was nurturing, safe and the building blocks for a better education!
• Information and support about special needs!
• Wonderful support from staff and Case Management services that cannot be found anywhere else!
• Self-confidence to pursue my dreams and career goals!

As you can see, Head Start is a lot more than a pre-school program. Without Head Start my family’s future would have been very different and I would not have returned to school in pursuit of my life-long dream of working with families and becoming a Social Worker.

My name is Diane G. and I am an Early Head Start Teacher in a program located in northern Rhode Island. The program that employs me is an important support system for my family.
Almost four (4) years ago, my husband was diagnosed with brain cancer. Our lives were tipped upside down. Our son was in second grade and our daughter was 18 months old. As we struggled with his disease, we looked toward our community for help. We became involved with WIC and then were directed to our local Head Start program.

Our daughter started the program in Early Head Start. The Teachers and Case Manager helped guide me through many services and programs that would ease the burdens of my husband’s illness. My daughter loved the social interaction and structure the classroom gave her. By the time my daughter turned three (3), she was transitioned into Basic Head Start. I was encouraged to volunteer in the classroom; I soon fell in love with that atmosphere. My volunteering turned into Substitute training. I substituted many times and enjoyed learning from these talented Teachers.

A job in Early Head Start became available in the summer of 2004. I applied and got the job. During my first year, I was given the opportunity to attend many workshops and staff meeting to discuss and learn how to best teach the children as well as guide the families. I have just received my Child Development Associate certificate. This was an opportunity funded by the Head Start program that I worked for. The CDA program took me most of the school year to complete, but boy it feels good to have my certificate! Now I see that my employer (Head Start) is still a caring, loving support system for me and my family.

My very first experience with Head Start came when my youngest son was able to be in a classroom slot. The time he spent in the classroom, being taught by a wonderful teacher forever changed my life.

I was going to college, a single mom of 2, newly divorced and somewhat lost. My education preference changed and I knew then that I wanted to become a Head Start teacher; to do for others what was being done for me and my boys. It took me plenty of interviews, but I finally was offered the position of Family and Partnership Assistant. That was a wonderful step forward and this taught me a great deal.

Nine months later, the teacher's position became available - the same teacher that touched my Family’s life was leaving and I was in a position to apply and try to serve families just as she had served mine. I worked hard and got the job. Since day one, my heart has been in providing a positive learning experience for young children and being an advocate for parents. Tonight I am searching within my self to truly find what fulfills with this position and am going to share it with my staff tomorrow.

I am grateful and blessed to have the opportunity every day to have parents entrust me with their youngster. Receiving such honesty and openness from a preschooler is heartfelt. I am lucky to have the opportunity to serve.

Tammy B.

I want to start out by telling you a little bit about myself and my family. My name is Jamie and I'm a single mom of three boys. I have been involved with Head Start for 7 years. My oldest son Damien is now 10, he started in Head Start when he was 3. I was and still am an active parent. I started on the Parent Committee where I served as Vice Chairperson and eventually I moved up to Chairperson. I volunteered in his classroom often, he loved having me there and I loved being there to watch him grow in many ways. My middle son Evan, who is now 9 started when he was 3 also, but unlike Damien I felt he was behind in many areas. Because I was already in the program my case manager helped to set up many evaluations for him. Evan had a speech delay, fine motor delay and sensory issues.

For me it was hard to understand why and how my child could have these problems but the Head Start staff supported me in every way from attending I.E.P. meetings to answering questions I had, to setting my son up with the services he needed. My youngest, Alexzandre, is now 3 and I have been involved since I was a prenatal mom. Alex has gained most out of being in a classroom surrounded by children his own age. He has grown so much socially it really is unbelievable. Through my years at Tri-Town Head Start I have gone through a lot emotionally, from unemployment, being homeless, child support issues, court issues and so much more, but through it all the staff at Tri-Town has been there more than anyone. I have been on Policy Council for three years, parent committee, classroom representative, site representative, and RISHA representative, as well as being a volunteer and classroom substitute, I have sat in on many interviews for case workers as well as teaching staff. I even went to the NHSA conference in Salt Lake City, Utah in December 2005, which was the first trip I ever went on. The Parent Involvement Coordinator sat next to me on the plane and held my hand the entire time.

The staff has gone above and beyond on many occasions, I truly consider them my family, we laugh and cry together. I know my family has grown in many ways because of the staff and I will be forever grateful. Head Start is the greatest experience I could have ever given to my children. Thank you for everything!!!
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