Staff are the Heart of Head Start
We would like to highlight our employees that have been with us for over 15 years!! Thank you for your many years of hard work and dedication to the families and children of Franklin County.
Jeanne Shultz who is currently our Health/Nutrition Manager has been with Head Start for 18 years. She became involved with Head Start when her two youngest children began attending. During the time of their attendance, Jeanne was a member of the Policy Council and the President of the PTE. Her proudest contribution to the program was the year that she volunteered over 300 hours to her children’s classroom. Jeanne started out at Head Start as a parent who volunteered her time, then she moved on to be a bus driver/Family service worker. From that position she continued on to learn many different areas throughout the program and is in her current position as Health/Nutrition Manager. Jeanne is inspired to come to work each day because she believes in what Head Start does and what we stand for. She is also inspired by seeing the growth and development of the kids year after year. What makes her smile is her coworkers, seeing a child’s health needs met as a result of our efforts and watching the children try new foods during lunchtime and seeing their reactions. The most important piece for her work is the open communication between families, staff and specialist to meet the needs of the children. The message she would like to share with others that are considering working for Head Start is that it is a very fulfilling job. Although the stress level may be high at times the rewards are well worth it.
Veronica Aliferis who is currently our Mental Health Specialist has been with Head Start for 17 years. Veronica was previously a stay at home mom and was ready to get back into the workforce. She saw that there was a position available and applied. At that time she didn’t know much about Head Start. After applying she did some research and discovered that Head Start offered many different services. Veronica is inspired to come to work every day because she truly believes in the Head Start mission and wants to be a part of fulfilling that mission. She is also inspired by her co-workers. What makes her smile is being able to provide families and teachers with resources and strategies to help a child succeed. Each day she looks forward to the opportunity to teach staff the skills to use in the classroom to strengthen social emotional skills. The most important piece of Veronica’s work is discovering a child with a learning disability and helping their family get the services needed for their child to be successful. Her proudest contribution was implementing the positive behavior intervention and supports; program wide, which is a system developed to improve student behavior across all environments. When Veronica was a teacher in the classroom a parent wrote her a note about how much of a difference she made in her daughter’s life. Moment’s like these show her she is making a difference, and she still has that note today. The message she would like to share with others that are considering working for Head Start is that it is a great program and really makes a difference in families lives. It is hard work but when you get that hug or smile from a child it makes everything worth it.
Kim Holtry who is currently an HR Specialist has been with Head Start 15 years. She began her journey with Head Start as a Family Service Worker. She was attracted to Head Start because she was interested in working with families and interacting with children. Kim is inspired to come to work by her co-workers and the opportunities to learn and grow as an employee. She is also inspired by knowing that there is a genuine purpose for what she does. The part of her job that makes her smile is her co-workers and the fact that everyday there is something new. She looks forward to developing new ways to be more effective in her position. The most important part of her job is assuring that qualified candidates are hired and she also strives for employee engagement. Kim’s proudest professional achievement is that she was able to attain her HR Certifications. When Kim was a Family Service Worker she met a family that was from another country and spoke Amharic which is a language that Head Start had not come across at that point. Kim was able to connect with a translator and was able to get the family signed up for Head Start and also get them connected with the services that they need. Over the years they learned to speak English and their children continued to attend Head Start. The Children are now teenagers and Kim sees them occasionally. The father credits the help they received from Head Start for the success that they have now. Its shows that one moment can spark many successful moments. The message she would like to share with others considering working for Head Start is that you can achieve professional and personal growth through employment here and this is the kind of job that is about people helping people.
Vanessa Rhodes who is currently a Teacher 4 in our Early Head Start program has been with Head Start for 18 years. She got involved with Head Start when her youngest son attended and she volunteered her time in the classroom. Her family service worker at the time encouraged her to apply and she was hired as the Special Needs Itinerant. Vanessa was attracted to Head Start, because she wanted to make a difference by working with families and children. She is inspired to come to work every day by the kids; seeing them grow and change and knowing that she will leave an impact on them. When she makes a connection with a child or family, it makes her smile. When asked what the most important piece of work is that she does in Head Start, Vanessa answered, "Everything is important, it all intertwines." Her biggest achievement was receiving her Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education while working for Head Start. She feels that from the beginning, Head Start has pushed her to grow, achieve and inspire others to do the same. The message she would like to share with others considering working for Head Start is “Just do it, if you want to work here put in an application.”
MaryAnn Bell who is currently a Family Advocate in the program has been with Head Start for 18 years. She got involved with Head Start during an internship in the Family Services area. When she was asked to stay on as an employee she didn’t hesitate, she felt it was a great place to be and everyone was so friendly. MaryAnn is inspired to come to work by the families, children and her co-workers. The excitement that the children show when they see her and the hugs that they give are what makes her smile. Helping parents set goals and giving the resources to attain those goals are what MaryAnn looks forward to in the work that she does. The most important piece of her work is being an advocate for the families. She is proudest when someone that she has helped through the years remembers her years later and thanks for all that she did and tells her that she changed their lives by being there for them and helping them. She has grown professionally through workshops and other trainings offered by Head Start. She received her associate’s degree while working for Head Start. Her views were changed 50 years ago when her mother-in-law who was a social worker (now called a family advocate) for Head Start brought Head Start families into her home to teach the parents how to cook. She held the cooking classes often at MaryAnn’s home. At first MaryAnn was reluctant about having so many people in her house but then she got to know the parents and families. Eventually she joined in the classes. This experience has made her who she is today, by wanting to help those that are less fortunate. The message she would like to share with others who are considering working for Head Start is that you get enjoyment in helping those less fortunate; giving to others gives back to yourself.
renda Line, who is currently a Family Advocate in the program, has been with Head Start for 15 years. She became involved in Head Start when her son attended the program. The first year, she volunteered 400 hours of her time to help out in the classroom. His second year, she was asked to become a classroom assistant. While working for Head Start, she also volunteered 600 hours that year. From that position she became a Bus Driver, an Education Itinerant and then finally a Family advocate. Brenda is inspired by the families and the children that she gets to work with everyday, her coworkers, and the fact that there is something different every day. She loves her job! The children make her smile daily. “When you have a bad day, seeing the kids and getting hugs from them, just makes you happy”. The thankfulness of the families also makes her smile. Brenda looks forward to new adventures in the work that she does. She looks forward to helping families with different situations in any way that she can as well as being involved with the community and finding the resources that the families need. The most important part of her job is working with the families; helping them to become the best parents they can be and ensuring that the child’s needs are met. Brenda feels that she has come a long way professionally since becoming employed with Head Start 15 years ago. She shared one of her many inspiring stories about a mom who had 4 kids, 3 of which were in a classroom together. Brenda was their family advocate. One summer Brenda was moved to another area and left that classroom. The mom was very upset that she no longer had Brenda as her family advocate; the mom said that she was so grateful for everything that she had done for her and her children and didn’t want to lose her. So she said she would find Brenda and move to whatever area she was in so that she could again become her family advocate, and she did. The mom moved and the children were once again in the same classroom. Brenda was their family advocate and went on to become the family advocate for the mom’s next 2 children over the years. This made Brenda feel great about herself and proud of how she does her job. The message she would like to share with others considering working for Head Start is that it is an excellent program that teaches families and children school readiness. The benefits and opportunities are good and it is just an enjoyable place to work. She would recommend working here to anyone.
Cindy Clark, a lead teacher in our Frecon classroom, has been with Head Start for 15 years! She first came to Head Start because she has always loved working with kids and had experience working with special needs adults and children. She began employment in 1990 to 1991 and had a fantastic first year working with Barb Beard and Nancy Kline. She then pursued other opportunities outside of Head Start. But she returned in 2000 and has been making a difference in the lives of families and children for 15 years! Cindy likes her classroom to be like a family. She is proud when the children bond with staff and each other. She enjoys seeing how they change and grow from the beginning of the year to the end of the year. “I want them to be good students, well rounded, and excited about learning.” The most important piece of her work is getting the kids excited about school and feeding into their curiosity and excitement about learning. Her proudest achievement is that she graduated from Slippery Rock with a degree in Elementary Education and went back to school and minored in Early Childhood Education at Shippensburg University. She has grown professionally through experiencing different situations and needs of children and families, and learning how to properly handle those situations. Cindy appreciates all the employees who have worked in the past; since the beginning of Franklin County Head Start in 1965, those employees have paved the way for the program to be what is today. The message she would like to share with others considering working for Head Start; “If you feel you want to make a difference in a child or family’s life, this is the avenue to take.”
Melissa Shipp, the Transportation/Safety Coordinator has been with Head Start for 15 years. Melissa first came to Head Start as a parent; her son attended the Mercersburg classroom. She was the top volunteer in the classroom with over 200 hours. The teacher pushed her to apply for a position as a bus driver for St. Thomas. Along with her current position at Head Start she is also a Penn Dot Coordinator. What attracted Melissa to Head Start and what still inspires her today is being able to help children and families and make a difference in their lives. She looks forward to helping make the kids smile everyday and takes pride in doing her job well. The most important piece of her work is making sure the children have safe and reliable transportation to and from school. Her proudest contribution is being able to give knowledge to her co-workers about transportation and Penn Dot. Over the years she has grown in many ways, as a parent with Head Start she was shy and did not like to speak publicly. Now she trains, teaches and mentors large groups of employees. She has also opened up to opportunities that have come her way. Her most moving memory of Head Start is that her Family Service Worker (Jeanne Shultz) was there for her; to guide her and encourage her to be the best person she could be. She and Jeanne are now co-workers. The message Melissa would like to share with others considering working for Head Start is “It’s a place you can grow and gain confidence in yourself”. “It is a learning experience and a chance to give to others, you can excel!!”