Story submitted by: Brenda Poteete
Executive Director, Sierra Cascade Family Opportunities Head Start and Head Start Parent

When I became a Head Start parent of two young children in 1987, I was working fulltime in a retail job and raising two children with my husband. We were enrolled in a home-based program and I went from being the shy parent who sat at the back of the room for parent meetings to being the parent committee representative and then to the chairperson of the Policy Council. I enjoyed the volunteering I was doing with Head Start and we were excited to have our home visits every week. I really enjoyed working with my children and with the other children enrolled in the home-based site when we all came together for socialization. When a home visitor position became available in 1989 in a neighboring community, my home visitor encouraged me to apply. So, I applied and was hired. Head Start has helped me return to school and get my AA in Early Childhood Education, my BA in Human Development, and coursework towards my MA with a focus on Educational Leadership. I have held the Head Start positions of home visitor, teacher, site supervisor, coordinator, and manager, and I have been the Executive Director since 2002. It has been 34 years of endless dedication and appreciation for this career I have loved so much!

I am a Head Start Executive Director because I love the work we do and the difference we make in the lives of young children and their families. I cherish my Head Start family and our dedication to the work we each do every day as we provide high-quality child development classrooms and build lasting relationships with children and their parents. I tell staff often, “You may not see a change or growth in the families we serve today or tomorrow, but you are planting the seeds for growth in the future.” I marvel at the commitment of our teachers and family support staff to accept children and parents where they are and without judgement, then support, educate and love them into the successful individuals and families they will be when they leave our program and throughout school and life! I admire our management and administrative team and our support staff for their respect of, dedication to and support of the frontline staff that work with children and families daily. For me, Head Start isn’t a job, it is a way of life!

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