The benefits of early childhood programs like Head Start are numerous. Head Start and Early Head Start offer health services, training for parents and the whole family and, of course, pre-school education. The lasting impact of Head Start can be seen most clearly in former students like Genesis and Luis Angel Jahuey, ages 11 and 12.
Genesis and Luis both have fond memories of their time in Head Start, and they believe that their experience in the program has helped them become better students and better citizens.
Genesis says, “When I first started going to Head Start I was a bit nervous, but then when I saw how welcoming it was, I felt really free and happy to be there. When I graduated the Head Start program I felt very happy because they taught me so much, and I felt like I was ready to take on what came next. They showed me right from wrong and how to make a good decision.”
Luis told us, “I do think I’m better prepared for life now and school because they taught me almost everything I know right now. Head Start taught me how to use my manners, create friendships, and not be nervous and scared. At Head Start, I got the attention that I needed every day that I went. I got the love that I needed from my teachers. They were really nice.”
Their little sister Amber recently graduated from our Head Start program, and the older siblings are still involved in the program. Luis explained, “At Head Start, my younger sister has the same teachers that my sister and I had. All my teachers really love my younger sister, because they say she reminds them of Genesis and I. This was her last year at Head Start. They asked me and my sister Genesis to go for a speech, and we spoke about how our life in Head Start was and our memories. After I graduated from Head Start, I always visit every year. I go back and play music for the kids. They get up and dance, and they really like it.”
The Role of Music in Head Start
Music plays a big role in the Jahuey household, and in Head Start. Luis shared his memory of music in the classroom: “Head Start had a music class twice a week, and it was really fun. The teacher’s name was Ms. Wendy. She played guitar, she used to sing us songs a lot, and I still remember all the songs: ‘You Are My Sunshine,’ ‘Old McDonald Had a Farm,’ and a lot of kids’ songs.”
Luis has dreams of being a musician when he grows up: “Not a full-time musician, but I want to have another job. I want to play a lot of jazz, and I want to have a band.” Genesis shared with us why she enjoys volunteering at Head Start, “We know we’re lucky because of all the opportunities that Head Start gave us, so we like going back now and volunteering part-time and showing the kids our instruments and how to play them. We play small little songs, like “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.” It’s really nice doing that.”
Head Start: A Family Affair
Their mom has also been actively involved in the Head Start program over the years. When their mom first found out about the Head Start program, she initially thought that there would be a fee involved. She was surprised and delighted when the program director called her and invited her to bring Luis in for free. She was told that in exchange for the free services, she would need to be actively involved and commit to volunteer hours. She says, “I was really glad and happy to do it.”
Luis shared his memories of his mom visiting the classroom, “Head Start benefited not just me, by all my family. At Head Start, my mom would come many times and teach other kids that don’t know how to speak Spanish. She would teach them the numbers, letters, and their ABCs. It was really fun to be in a classroom with a lot of kids from different cultures. It was fun learning from their cultures. I honestly think that other kids in the community should have the same benefits that I had at Head Start.”
Learn More About Head Start
Our Head Start and Early Head Start programs serve families with children ages birth to 5 years old (including children with disabilities) that fall within 0 – 100% of the Poverty Guidelines published by the Federal government. Learn more about these valuable programs, or donate today!