By Ben Lawson
For the past year, Head Start Program chief teacher Linda Sims has worked to prepare children for their first foray into school, armed with a dedicated staff and a love of teaching children.
Head Start, operated by the Douglas Cherokee Economic Authority, offers a variety of educational activities throughout the day for children aged three and four. There are several centers across the county, but while the location on Wye Road is new, its head teacher is not.
“I’ve worked with kids my whole life,” Sims said. “I love the kids. That’s why I do it.”
Now in her third year with Head Start, Sims started out as a teacher’s assistant, but jumped at the opportunity to teach. She indicated that trying to execute a lesson plan with 17 pre-school children can be as chaotic as it is fun, and praises the staff and volunteers that help each day.
“Our staff is wonderful,” she said. “Everyone jumps in to do anything, even if it’s not their job.”
The payoff for their hard work, she said, is watching the children learn over the course of the program. Watching three-year-old students quickly pick up skills such as spelling their own names, and remembering important information like phone numbers and addresses is why they do the job.
Sims said that hearing children whose first language isn’t English recite the Pledge of Allegiance is amazing. It’s because of results like these that kindergarten teachers say they can always tell who the Head Start children are.
We’ve got the best kids in the county,” Sims said.
This year a joint project between Head Start and the United Way treats the children to special reading sessions each day from firefighters, former teachers and other community volunteers.
The program runs the same schedule as school, from August to May. Spots fill up quickly, so interested parents should sign up by early spring. The program is also always looking for community volunteers to help with the children.
For more information on enrolling a child or volunteering, contact Head Start at 908-4423.
Head Start on School
By Ben Lawson