Corina Spence

–  Corina Spence, onsite Head Start manager, Moab, UT

Grandmother hugging her grandson

My name is Corina and I started out as a Head Start parent. I was a waitress and never even thought of becoming a teacher. As a young adult, I had started nursing school and was told that because I had epilepsy I would never have a career-and I believed that. But, I had teachers and leaders and the parent policy council say to me, "hey, you and your family are important and there is no reason you can't volunteer." So, I was in that classroom daily because they made me feel like I mattered and that my child would be a success because parents and Head Start are partners. They took my family by the hand and walked us step by step through what my child and family needed and that's when Head Start stole my heart. I became a Head Start teacher. I who had been told by a college professor that I could never have a career. My child learned to love himself and others no matter who they were or where they came from. He became a leader and someone to be looked up to by his peers. He was class president; played every sport possible; was in every class play; and on the debate team. He even received a scholarship for college because of his ability to see and adjust to such a diverse world he was growing up in.

The first time I had heard that parents are partners was at Head Start. Wow! I, for the first time felt important, felt like I had nothing to be ashamed of and nothing to hide! That was in October 1994; now, it is February 2015 and I am the onsite manager in Moab, UT, such a diverse and unique community. Here, I share the privilege of being a Head Start grandma, as my older son married into a family with two children who were Head Start kids, and he and his wife were Early Head Start parents and are now Head Start parents. They have had the privilege of many trainings and parenting classes to help them on the road of parenting, and they work very hard to be parents as partners in Head Start. They work hard in our community and are not afraid to speak up for their family and make good choices for their children and this is because they have had Head Start as a partner to reach out and say, "hey, let's work together and make our community a better place."

Now, I see such progress in my grandchildren because Head Start took the time to work with them as a family to say, "hey, you matter and you can make a difference." Head Start has many community partnerships in Moab and each and every one of them plays an important role. However, I believe the most important partnership we have is the partnership we have with our parents. Parents have so much to offer and sometimes we forget to think about parents when we think about partnerships. When most of us hear partnership, our first thought goes to the school district, Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), family support center, or food bank; I could go on and on but I won't. I truly believe all partnerships are important, but the one we have with our families is the one that will have a lasting positive effect on our community.