Michael Robinson

–  Michael Robinson, former Head Start student, Fairfax, VA

Michael Robinson

Looking back, my Head Start education is one of those things that made the possibility of going from a low-income household to one of the best academic institutions in the world possible. I am about to graduate from Yale—an incredible realization—and I know it started when I had the opportunity to start my education early. When I first walked into a classroom in Fairfax, VA in September 1996, the educational system was making a bold investment in my future. I just hope there has been an equal return on investment.

One of the strongest memories I have is of my teacher, Ms. Harlow, spending time to talk with my mother and grandmother about how they could spur my academic curiosity. I would go to school for those few hours in the day and then come home with books so I could begin learning to read. When I entered kindergarten and first grade, I was not behind the curve, as many children from low-income backgrounds are, but I was reading at an equal and then much higher grade level than some of my peers. Thousands of read books and papers later, I understand that this was a critical point in my education.

Head Start gave me the tools to feel confident in an educational setting, not frustrated and discouraged as many of our young people are. Head Start gave me an environment to love learning. Head Start served as a catalyst to change the course of my life and compete equally with more advantaged children.

I do not think it gave me a "head start" but a more equal start—an equal chance at success and social mobility, in this great country, through education.