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Balloon Release Raises Awareness For Head Start Program

The East Missouri Action Agency’s Head Start Program in Ste. Genevieve County celebrated Head Start Awareness Month with a balloon release on October 25.

The Head Start program has been in existence for more than 50 years, helping children get a “head start” on education and life.

Children who are 3 years old by July 31 of the year they are applying up to kindergarten age are eligible to apply. The program serves 10 percent of children who have an IEP with the Ste. Genevieve R-II School District.

The Ste. Genevieve program serves 40 families.

“We have a holistic program where we work with the whole family to promote health, nutrition, and help the family find resources to enhance their lives and that of their children,” said Brenda Beard of Head Start in a release.

Children who attend Head Start receive breakfast, lunch and an afternoon snack.

The core hours for children whose parents or primary care-givers are not working are 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Extended hours for families where both parents work, attend college or are disabled at from 6:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Some of the staff members have been with Head Start for many years, including Susie Bach, who has been with the program for nearly 50 years. Judy Smith has been with the program more than 26 years, first as a teacher and now as site manager. Connie Valle has been with Head Start for more than 30 years. Denise Donze has been with the program for 11 years. Beard was with the program for 19 years, then worked elsewhere for seven years before returning. Julia Bethel has been at Head Start for four years and Madlen French for one. Casey Hapgood and Ileana Womble have just started this school year.

“We have a wonderful staff who work as a team to ensure that the children are loved, kept safe and well fed,” Beard said. “We also work hard to enhance the educational experience for the children to give them a love for learning.”

(Information in a release from East Missouri Action Agency’s Head Start program.)

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