Happy Birthday Head Start!


This blog is shared courtesy of the Ascend Network Partner National Head Start Association. The orgainzation's mission is to coalesce, inspire, and support the Head Start field as a leader in early childhood development and education. 

This year marks 50 years since the creation of Head Start, a national commitment to breaking the cycle of poverty by providing at-risk children and their families comprehensive early learning programs. I am a proud Head Start alumnus, and if ever a tale can be told about the meaningful and transformative power of a program designed to give vulnerable children a head start in the race toward the future, my story is it.

I was raised by my mother and grandmother, two strong women with a reverence for education, who, despite struggling to make ends meet, did everything they could to ensure I entered the education system as early as possible. The greatest impact Head Start had on my mother and grandmother was providing a safe, productive environment for me to be in while they both worked. My mother would often volunteer time to help, especially with holiday events. She and I reminisce on those days and she often mentions that such experiences helped her out of her shell, inspiring her to become a more engaged member of her community.

Head Start gave me, among so many other things, a platform to express myself. It was the place that I first realized my own gift of being a communicator. I can honestly say that the roots of my professional conquests were highly influenced by my earliest days of development in Head Start, which led me to work in radio and television, as well as public relations. Head Start reinforced many of the values that I learned at home, which lead not only to social development skills, but also shaped my more inwardly directed development. Amidst all of the clay, crayons and building blocks was the very foundation of who I would become as an adult.

Head Start put me on the path to succeeding in school and going on to make a contribution to my community. Today, I serve as the Chairman of the Hinds County Head Start Policy Council, where we work to ensure vulnerable Mississippi children are given the same window of opportunity I was given.

Head Start’s unique two-generation approach to early learning is putting families across the country back on the path to success.  So, Happy 50th Birthday Head Start. Thank you for changing my mother’s life and laying my foundation for a bright future.