With lots of excitement and some tears, Head Start welcomed back thousands of its littlest of learners to school. More than 4,000 Head Start students returned to class on Monday filling classrooms throughout 30 Head Start centers in the El Paso and Hudspeth area.
“This is an exciting day for us,” said Linda Navarro, James R. Vasquez Head Start center site manager. “We have many returning students and five classrooms full of brand new three year olds.”
For 3-year-old Isabella, who stood peering curiously through the door of her new classroom, and for her mother, Arlene Garcia this much anticipated day was filled with a bit of anxiety, excitement and joy.
“This is her first day at Head Start and first time away from me so of course it’s hard for both of us. She is usually so attached to me but now that we’re here, she’s very excited to get into her new classroom,” said Garcia. “I’m happy to be able to have her in this program. She is a very intelligent and inquisitive girl and I know she’ll flourish in this environment.”
The ESC Region 19 Head Start Birth to Four Early Education Program is a federally funded program that promotes the school readiness of children from birth to 5. The program also serves pregnant participants and teen mothers.
To ease the transition for parents and children, centers hosted orientations and met with parents prior to the first day of school. Parents also were welcomed to observe and escort their children into their new classrooms.
“We had a very successful orientation and parents were especially happy to hear about the dual enrollment option,” said Navarro.
This year, many of the Head Start centers offered dual enrollment options for parents. Dual enrollment is a partnership between ESC Region 19 Head Start and El Paso area school districts where children participate in both public school Pre-k and Head Start giving them a full day of instruction.
Also, the program offers parents an opportunity to become volunteers in the classroom, serve on parent committees, be a part of program development and attend workshops.
“Many of our parents are new to Head Start and were eager to sign up as parent volunteers,” said Navarro. “In fact we’ve even had an exceptional number of fathers inquiring about becoming volunteers which is extremely encouraging to us.”
Head Start enrollment applications are accepted year round with waiting lists maintained for openings that may occur. Families who would like more information can visit esc19hs.net or call 790-4601 to schedule an enrollment appointment.