7:53 AM It's a fairy land out there this morning. A cold, white one, but a fairy land nevertheless. This is called "spring" in our part of the country. We often have the worse blizzard of the year in the first week of April; and the second worse one around St. Paddy's Day. This is so that we don't ever forget who is REALLY in charge around here.

Disconnected Thoughts

I had a happy conversation with my eldest grandson (Logan) last night on IM. I'm not a technology freak, but I sure like the connections one can make on this world wide web. And I like to think of it as a web woven all around the earth, providing silken threads of communications for anyone to tap into. Now, I'm not such a romantic that I don't realize how vulnerable this web is to nonsense, hurtful things, and to downright criminal activities. But, for the ordinary person, with family and friends flung all over the world, it is an incredible source of human connection.

Logan and I commiserated that we aren't joining Lyra and the rest of her family on their exciting trek to visit our Mexican family. Logan will be at my youngest son's home for Easter, and we aren't able to join them this year. DB has a trip to Canada this week (I'm going to sneak off with him, and study in my hotel room), and a business trip to Mexico the day after Easter, so a long drive to and from MD in between just isn't a good (nor healthy) idea.

My two days of workshops for Head Start went off very well, inspite of the terrible weather I had to travel the 50-mile round trip each day. It was good to be with those friends and talking "babies" again. I trained many of them when our program first began, and it is gratifying to see how they have grown into this all-important profession. They provide quality care for the most vulnerable members of our society; the infants of the very poor. And they love it.

Whenever I get disgusted with the federal government, I am comforted to remember that Head Start has always been the most promising of the governmental programs, and certainly the best of the "Great Society". With the smallest administrative expense, Head Start has had a positive impact on the most people over the last 37 years. From the head of the bureau down, the people have been dedicated to caring for the youngest of our citizens.

Not only has the program been a source of caring, education, and support for all the families that have been part of it over the years, but it has been a innovative leader in the whole field of early childhood education. There have been glitches over the years, and certainly there have been some ineffective individual programs, but overall, the dedication of the frontline people to the children in their care has never wavered.

All that said, there has never been enough money to fully fund the program. And therein lies the other genius of Head Start: the ability to make partnerships and collaborations in the local community in order to get the BEST job done. Head Start has never provided only the minimum. The federal requirements programs have had to operate under have ensured that the care is always optimal for the community, and never just the minimum.

Many of the caregivers I worked with came from the very community the program serves. They were low-to-no income mothers, many single parents, who had their children in the program. They showed an interest in the classroom and volunteered their time. Good volunteers are always given an opportunity to become part of the staff whenever there is an opening. As a matter of fact, first choice for the entry level positions are given to parents.

There is where the training comes in. It is imperative that training is immediate and thorough. Our program (and most that I know of) makes training a priority. And as the employee's self-esteem rises with the support given by the program, that person begins to move up the ladder. First comes the Child Development Associate's certificate (CDA), then an AA degree, then a bachelors. Many of the teachers, still making peanuts compared to their counterparts in the public system, struggle to attain that all-important teaching certificate. That is a real achievement for someone who began with barely a high school education.

The group I worked with the last two days included people with their CDA's, Associate's, and Bachelor's. Many of them are currently taking college classes. They range in age from a just-out-of-her-teens mom, to a grandmother who is almost retirement age. They are totally dedicated to their profession.

It was good on several levels to be with them. Not to be discounted is the opportunity for me to feel competent again! I KNOW that field; my seminary studies often leave me feeling like an idiot. What wasn't so happy was to hear that my position of Staff Development Manager has never been filled, so many of the programs I had put into place have been dropped. I spent two long and difficult years getting some good programs off the ground, but no one has the time to keep them going anymore. Too bad, but I have to put that behind me.

I have strayed far afield in this entry. I now have to plan a lesson on the Psalms of praise for tomorrow's adult Christian education class. Back to my new career!

Life is good; there are many saints out there. Thanks be to God, Amen.

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