SIUE Head Start/Early Head Start Continues to Receive Awards

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The Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Head Start/Early Head Start program captured five awards recently at the Illinois Head Start Association's Annual Spring Conference in Springfield.

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I want to expose my son to a world of possibilities and let him see me engaged in his life in a positive way. I want to make sure my son doesn't get lost, so that when it's his time to help run the world, he can do that.

The Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Head Start/Early Head Start program captured five awards recently at the Illinois Head Start Association's Annual Spring Conference in Springfield.

The awards included Parent of the Year, Teacher of the Year and Father of the Year. The East St. Louis claimed the Parent of the Year award for the second consecutive year. Virginia Watson, a parent at the Discovery Head Start Center in East St. Louis, won the honor because of her commitment to quality education at the school and in the home.

The award recognizes a parent who has established career, education and future goals, as well as demonstrated self-sufficiency and career advancement. Watson, of East St. Louis, is the mother of a 4-year-old daughter.

"I am proud that the Illinois Head Start Association selected me as the 2009/20010 Parent of the Year; actually I am overwhelmed," Watson said. "I am also grateful to SIUE Head Start for helping me reach my goals of becoming a high school graduate and enrolling in college. "I plan one day to have a career in early childhood education."

A dedicated parent is one building block in forming excellence in education. Another key component is outstanding instructors. Instructor Sybifelita Cox from the St. Joseph Head Start program in East St. Louis was named the 2009/2010 Illinois Head Start Teacher of the Year. The award recognizes a teacher who has demonstrated ability to mobilize resources to provide and enhance services to children and families.

Cox also was selected as the Region 5 Head Start Teacher of the Year. Region 5 encompasses Ohio, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin and Minnesota. "I was so excited and honored, because I love what I do," said Cox, who has been a Head Start teacher for 30 years. "I owe it all to God, and I'm so appreciative of my center coordinator, Lutricia West, who nominated me for such a prestigious award.

"I am also grateful to work with such a wonderful staff."

Male impact on the lives of children is a critical factor that the National Head Start Association has worked to encourage. Claiming the state's Father of the Year Award was Courtney Haynes, a parent of a student at Cahokia Head Start. Haynes, of East St. Louis, is the father of a 4-year-old. He was selected because of his increased involvement in the life of his son, as well as enhancing his personal development from his Head Start experience. An SIUE Head Start/Early Head Start father also won the state award last year.

Haynes' involvement in his child's life is both for personal and cultural reasons. The 30-year-old wants to pass his values and hopes on to his son, while attempting to shatter some stereotypes of African-American men.

"I want to expose my son to a world of possibilities and let him see me engaged in his life in a positive way," Haynes said. "I want to make sure my son doesn't get lost, so that when it's his time to help run the world, he can do that."

Unfortunately, many Head Start parents face obstacles in life that seem stacked against them. Head Start encourages and empowers adults to tear down those barriers that threaten their quality of life.

Rebecca Richno, a former Belleville Head Start parent, won the state's 2009-2010 Beating the Odds Award. The honor is awarded to a parent who has overcome stumbling blocks and hardship to become self-sufficient. Winning the state's "Beating the Odds Award" was a repeat performance from last year for SIUE Head Start/Early Head Start.

Last year while Richno's youngest daughter was a student at Belleville Head Start, the mother-of-three was waging legal battles for court protection for that daughter. Richno also said she continued being victorious in her struggle with sobriety, while volunteering more than 80 hours at Belleville Head Start.

"I had a lot of help from SIUE Head Start," said Richno, who now lives in St. Charles, Mo. "Everyone was there for me, whether it was a shoulder to cry on or leading me in the right directions."

Now that her youngest child is out of Head Start, Richno has plans to open a resale shop in St. Louis and give part of the proceeds to an organization that helps abused children.

In other award-winning news, a former SIUE Head Start/Early Head Start graduate, Bolajoka Adeniyi, received recognition as a candidate for the Dr. Scott Harkley Memorial Scholarship Award.

Candidates must be Head Start graduates pursuing medical careers. Adeniyi currently studies medicine at Ross University in New Jersey. The winner will be awarded a $1,500 scholarship at the 37th Annual National Head Start Conference in May 2010 in Dallas, Texas.

"Producing and maintaining quality early childhood education is the crux of our mission that we carry out every day," said Hazel Mallory, program director of the SIUE Head Start/Early Head Start Program. "And I was proud and happy to learn of the array of awards our hard working Head Start parents and staff received."

With a focus on empowering people and strengthening communities, the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville East St. Louis Center is dedicated to improving the lives of families and individuals—from pre-school through adult—in the Metro East St. Louis region. Head Start/Early Head Start, a charter school and a performing arts center are among 12 programs that offer the community renewed hope and an opportunity to reach educational, career and life goals.

Through research and community outreach, the East St. Louis Center identifies urban community needs and opportunities, playing a wide role in SIUE’s baccalaureate, professional, and master’s programs by supporting clinical and practicum experience. The Center also assigns first priority to encouraging, supporting and improving the educational success of the residents of East St. Louis and surrounding urban communities by providing comprehensive programs, services and training in the areas of education, health, social services and the arts.

Southern Illinois University Edwardsville is a nationally recognized public university offering a broad choice of degrees and programs ranging from career-oriented fields of study to the essential, more traditional, liberal arts. At SIUE we offer 44 baccalaureate degrees, 13 post-baccalaureate certificates, 47 master's degrees, 11 post- master's certificates, two first-professional degrees, and one post-first professional certificate. Known for an emphasis in health science education, SIUE offers a nursing school, pharmacy school and dental school. In addition, undergraduate and graduate degrees and certificates are available in engineering, business, elementary education and secondary education.

SIUE offers the advantages of a small, liberal arts college with the low tuition rates of a state university. Our emphasis on undergraduate education, complemented by faculty research, creates practical applications for student learning. Located in the second most populated area of the state, this Illinois university draws students from all 102 Illinois counties, 42 states and 50 nations.

Contact:
Gregory J. Conroy
618-650-3607
888-328-5168, ext. 3607
http://www.siue.edu

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