Tuesday, 07 March 2017

Head Start Transforms Family

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Concepcion “Connie” Guevara lived as a single mother to seven children when she first learned about Head Start. It was 1992 and her five oldest children were in elementary school. Their school had a Head Start classroom on campus and Connie’s two youngest children attended.

Being busy as she was, Connie found time to volunteer in the Head Start classroom. After school, Connie would stay to clean and sanitize all the toys, tables and chairs. Her older children would help, too. Volunteering at Head Start was a family activity.

GED to Bachelors Degree

People would always tell Connie she should work as a Head Start teacher, but to do that, she needed to go back to school. At age 25, she got her GED. Then she started working on her child development associates certificate (CDA). Soon, she began her teaching career with her first job at the City of Phoenix. Connie and her children felt proud of her career path. 

Connie's friend, who worked at Westside Head Start, encouraged her to apply. Her first year teaching for Westside Head Start, she commuted to Wickenburg from Phoenix. The next year, she transitioned to become a Westside Head Start family support specialist. She loved her new job because she got to interact with the kids and their families. It was a perfect fit.

Motivated to continue her education, Connie went back to school for her bachelor’s degree in human services with a minor in adult teaching. She was the first person in her family to get a college degree.

Transforming Families

Now as a family support specialist for several years, Connie has met and worked with a lot of families. One family stands out in her mind. The family had a little boy who was late for class every day. Connie spoke to the mother to find out why.

The mom was blind. She brought her son to school by taking a bus that picked her up at her door. The bus driver was always late. Connie offered to teach her how to ride the city bus system. Connie would drive to her home every day and walk the mother and child to the bus stop. Together, they rode the bus to Head Start. After school, Connie, the mother and son rode back to their home. After a month, the mother and son decided to try it on their own. They didn’t know that Connie continued to follow behind them in her car just to make sure they were safe.

Connie’s dedication opened up a whole new world to this family. She still sees them from time to time. The son is now in high school and has a bright future. The mom is able to travel independently.

Connie doesn’t brag about her accomplishments. She is quick to point out, “I’ve learned from every manager and supervisor I’ve ever had. I’ve also learned from everyone I’ve supervised. People ask me, ‘Where do you see yourself in five years?’ and I always say here!”

Learn how you can enroll your child or become a volunteer in a Westside Head Start classroom.

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