Head Start Ready for Second Decade

By: Damon Dillman
By: Damon Dillman

The Head Start classroom at Wilson Elementary in Fishersville is a busy place.

"The children learn by playing," explained Head Start teacher Fran Clark. "They have a lot of fun in here, but they're also learning, and they really don't even know it.

"But they're having a good time.

The 16 pre-kindergarten students, aged three to five, are learning more than just their ABC's or how to read.

"They learn how to socialize with each other," said Clark. "They get to be with other children their own age, and they may not get that opportunity in their own homes."

The classroom is one of 17 in districts throughout the Valley that are part of the Shenandoah Valley Head Start program.

The program, which serves almost 300 students, is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year. And Steve Troxell, the program's director, says the first decade was a successful one.

"The federal government seems to be pleased with what we're doing, and our children are doing well after they leave us," Troxell said. "So we feel like yes, it's been a success."

Earlier this week, the federal government notified Shenandoah Valley Head Start that their funding for year eleven has been approved. The program is paid for with a grant from the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services totaling more than $900,000.

But Troxell says he's looking beyond just next year. He says one of the main goals for the next 10 years is to get a classroom into every elementary school.

"If you can make it engaging, fun, interesting, and it's appropriate for their age and what they need to be learning at that age, and they're having fun doing it," he said, "that's a perfect scenario."

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