Head Start Stories and Experiences...
1. Submit an Application
2. Be contacted by a HCAP Head Start Family Advocate
Chronicles of Uncle Phil
by Philrobinson Sales
In the year 2000, I was a single parent working full time as a bus driver for Dollar Rent-A-Car. I worked the night shift from 4:00pm to 12:00am, and at times until 3:00am or 4:00am. I cared to my daughter Jeanelle in the morning and early afternoon, while my parents helped care for Jeanelle in the evenings. I loved my job, but I hated the hours and schedule because I rarely got holidays off.
In the summer of 2001, I heard about a program called "Head Start" through some friends. I got on the phone and talked to Mercy, our family advocate, and I applied for preschool with the Honolulu Community Action Program HCAP Head Start. In the fall, our application had been accepted and approved! I was finally going to get some help with Jeanelle's development. Little did I know that I was going to get help with my own development!
A few days later, we had a home visit by Jeanelle's preschool teachers, Ms. Polly and Mr. Charyls. Ms. Polly met with us at home, went over the program with us, and made us feel comfortable about getting ready for school. It was nice to have met Jeanelle's teachers and to have the opportunity to get to know them before school had actually started.
After the first day of school Ms. Polly asked if I would like to volunteer in class, and I agreed. I became a parent volunteer on a regular basis, sometimes three times a week! I helped with getting materials ready for the children, cleaning up, and lunch. I also became parent committee secretary, and learned how to administer the Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale. My favorites were field trips, because we got to ride on the school bus. Jeanelle and I just loved riding on the school bus! Even though I worked late the previous night, I was excited to spend time with Jeanelle in preschool the next morning.
During one of our parent committee meetings, I read an announcement for two position openings for HCAP, one for a secretary, and one for an assistant teacher. After I informed the parents of the position openings, a parent, Ms. Polly and Ms. Carol suggested that I myself should apply for the assistant teacher position. I was flattered; however, I informed them that I know nothing about holding the responsibilities of an assistant teacher. Ms. Polly informed me that what I have been doing in class for the past two years are the responsibilities of an assistant teacher. I realized that I did have some experience, enough to apply for the position. So, I applied! About four months later, I got a call from HCAP offering me the position, and I accepted! I finally got a job with weekends and holidays off, and a job that paralleled my daughter's school schedule!
It was at Head Start where I learned about child development. I learned guidance techniques, goal setting, how set up a "developmentally appropriate" routine and schedule for my daughter at home. Head Start made me realize that it took a "family" to raise a child, and that "family" included parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, our family doctor, our family dentist, and of course, our teachers!
One day, I went snack shopping for our class, and on my shopping list was "lettuce". I went to Times supermarket and got the items. So I thought I did. While putting the food away, aunty Suzie, aunty Jaci, and aunty Allison noticed two heads of green leaves and asked me what they were. I told them that I got lettuce. They said that I didn't get lettuce, and that I got cabbage! Cole slaw for snack! I learned how to shop for groceries, and how to tell the difference between lettuce and cabbage! So now everyone knows about my "cabbage" story!
But I think the most important lesson I learned was to love the children for who they are. That's the bottom line, to help the children. Head Start sent me back to college and gave me the opportunity to learn about early childhood development, appropriate practices, and theories about how children develop. I am so grateful for this training because it has helped me tremendously in raising my daughter. I am now the bus driver for Head Start and I love taking the children on their field trips.
With all that's happened in my "Head Start journey" I can attest to the validity that parent involvement, and in my case, "fatherhood and male involvement", truly enhances our children's development. I am very proud of my daughter. In the summer of 2006, not only did Jeanelle complete the 2nd grade with flying colors, she also graduated from her 5th grade reading comprehension class. She was the only 8-year old in that class.
Thank you Head Start for giving me a job, for giving me my daughter, and for giving me the opportunity and tools to be the best father that I can be. Life is about making good decisions and good choices. I think I made a pretty good decision in deciding to be part of the "Head Start Ohana".
Head Start Bus Driver
- Watch Phil tell his story