The Head Start initiative will forever be close to my heart because it is the very place where I began interacting with the world and it has made the difference in my life.
– Crystal Swinton, Head Start parent and graduate, Coral Springs, FL
In 1984, my twin brother and I attended a Head Start program in Lynchburg, VA. I still can remember the classroom, the teacher, her name, and the fun I had learning. Unfortunately, after that moment in time, a part of my childhood was forgotten to reduce the pain. We were raised by a single mother and struggled with poverty our entire childhood; we were even homeless, and for a few months, when I was 7, we were living out of a classroom in a basement of an old church building.
In 1996, as a teenager I gave birth to my first child but continued with finishing high school at an alternative school. In 1999, my son attended Head Start and I began working for Head Start as a teacher assistant while I attended a local community college. A few years later, I began caring for children in my home as a licensed child care provider and in 2012, I completed my bachelor of science degree and continued on to receive my master's degree in teaching and learning. During this time, while receiving my master's degree, I worked for an agency that supports families and children called, Family Central Inc. While working there, I was a mentoring coach to child care facilities and a STEAM coach helping teachers to implement science and art activities in their classrooms. After the grant ended, I continued with the agency as a master teacher supporting early childhood educational programs with assessments and observations. In August 2016, I was honored to participate in the Miami-Dade Head Start and Early Head Start Conference as a presenter, teaching on the importance of teacher-child interactions. Every so often, I am reminded of how thankful I am for Head Start. The Head Start initiative will forever be close to my heart because it is the very place where I began interacting with the world and it has made the difference in my life. Thank you for the opportunity to share my story.