U.S. Congressman Harold “Hal” Rogers, R-Ky., was the guest of honor Tuesday at KCEOC’s Head Start in Corbin during a celebration of Head Start Awareness Month.
Paul Dole, President and CEO of KCEOC (Kentucky Communities Economic Opportunity Council), and Yasmine Vinci, Executive Director of the National Head Start Association, took the opportunity to thank Rogers for his continuing support of the program and fight to continue funding.
“Head Start is a hometown issue,” Vinci said. “It has opened five million windows of opportunity.”
Quincy, who works in Washington, D.C., recalled meeting a lady at an event there who happened to be from Rogers’ district.
“She told me, ‘Head Start gave me the love of learning,’ ” Vinci said. “That is the most important thing in life.”
Rogers said while he advocates for smaller government and less spending, he has made Head Start funding a priority, noting the program received $1.5 billion in the current fiscal year.
“There is no better investment that we can make,” Rogers said, noting that a child’s development in the first five years sets the basis for future growth and success.
Rogers added that in addition to the students learning, Head Start teachers learn a lot about the child, such as diagnosing learning disabilities and discovering home situations that may impede success in school
During Tuesday’s event, Rogers and others in attendance were treated to a sample of what Head Start has done for some local children.
“We can enhance their levels of achievement in elementary school and beyond,” Rogers said. “That is what it is all about.”
Head Start Teacher Missy Scent led her class as they sang about the color yellow and what Head Start meant to them.
The choir from Lynn Camp High School was also in attendance and sang the national anthem and “My Old Kentucky Home.”
Several of the teenagers raised their hands when asked if they had attended Head Start.
Lori Mullins was in the program in 2004.
“It helped me become a faster learner and a really good student,” Mullins said of her time in Head Start.
In addition, Mullins said it made kindergarten easier as she had already experienced the routine of school life.
“It helped me learn how to make friends,” Mullins said.
Mullins said she hopes the Head Start program continues and the opportunity is there when she becomes a parent.
“It will help them with their education and socially,” Mullins said.
Scent, who has been teaching at KCEOC Head Start for 14 years, said her first students are now seniors in high school.
She has seen some of her former students around the community, and while they may not remember her name, they remember their time in Head Start. In addition, Scent said her own children were Head Start students.
“They went to school completely equipped,” Scent said of her own children, adding that is her goal for each of her students.
As to her own Head Start experience, Scent said she loves her job.
“It is the greatest job in the world,” Scent said. “I get hugs and kisses from my students and I get paid to finger paint.”
“It just fills your heart with happiness.”