Since the 1960s, Plymouth has housed the Lawrence community's Head Start Program. As Head Start Director, April DeNatale explains, the 2020-21 school year turned a trying time into a year of celebrations.
April DeNatale: Director of the Community Children's Center Head Start of Lawrence, Kansas
Although this has been an unusual school year, Head Start children and families are thriving! The community has rallied around those most in need, making a world of difference in their lives.
Donations, support, and services have looked a little different than in years past. However, our fantastic community partners' creativity has ensured that children continue to be ready for Kindergarten, and families continue to grow toward greater stability.
As winter came upon us, every Head Start child received warm clothes, coats, hats, gloves, and quilts. Additionally, every Head Start child experienced a lovely holiday season through the Angel Tree and a generous donation of turkey dinners around Thanksgiving.
The community continued to support Head Start families through virtual parent committee meetings as well. Families met to learn more about and discuss strategies for stretching their "food dollars," services available to their children through Medicaid, and fire safety. In February, the fire department gave families a fun virtual tour of the local station and a fire truck.
How children have participated in the Head Start program this year has changed a bit over the school year. About half of children enrolled in the program were learning virtually through the SeeSaw app in August and September. Teachers and families communicated by posting daily activities and updates in addition to twice-monthly phone calls.
Some children learning virtually began attending classrooms in person in November, and even more have joined classrooms since January. Today, seven children are learning virtually, 53 are learning in person, and at least nine more children will be joining classrooms this month.
We truly could not do this work without our community's support, especially with all of the love that you show children and families. We are looking forward to these last couple of months of the school year and all of the growth we will be blessed to see. We can't wait for the day that you will join us in classrooms again to see the miraculous growth of children and families. You are such an essential part of families' lives this year and every year. We appreciate you so very much!