The Past, Present & Future: Head Start Staff Recall What Makes the Program Special

From a former worker who started her career with Head Start in the 1970's to two current employees - one with a career spanning 30+ years and the other who has not missed a day in two years - Action Pathways Head Start Staff recall what makes the program so special.

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Mrs. Kay Andrews

Kay Andrews Resized for Website.jpgIn 1976 Mrs. Kay Andrews started volunteering with the 71st Street Head Start on Reilly Road as a ‘Parent Rider’, now called a bus monitor, helping students on and off the school bus. After a year, she quickly jumped at the opportunity to become a paid assistant teacher at Head Start. She enjoyed the convenience of being on the same schedule as her children.

“We all got up and went to school together, and at the end of the day, we went home together,” she recalled, “being an assistant teacher at Head Start didn’t feel like a job, I was with family." 

Despite being a young mom with hardly any prior experience in the classroom, Action Pathways saw Mrs. Kay’s passion for education and assisted her in obtaining her Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential. The additional training she received not only gave her the confidence to become a better educator, but she also felt like a better mom.

“Working at Head Start boosted my self-esteem. It gave me the confidence to better care for my children, and my coworkers became my support system,” she explained.  “During this time, my husband had a major heart attack, but the Head Start staff stepped in, without having to ask, and helped me and my family get back on our feet."

Read more of Mrs. Kay Andrews' story, here.



Annie Kelly Resized for Website.jpgMs. Annie Kelly

“I used the Head Start education assistance a couple of times because my kids would say, if momma can do it, we can do it, and that really motivated me,” Ms. Annie Kelly said.

Again, she continued on, “Head Start has given me everything, it really has.”

Some of her former students, who still keep in touch to this day, are now successful lawyers and social workers, among many other professions.  

“I myself, went from a high school diploma to a college graduate, all because of Head Start, and I’m the second in my family,” elaborated Ms. Kelly. “I was able to purchase a house, even though most of my family was on welfare, but I didn’t want that for my children. When I look at my children and how successful they are, I know it’s all because of Head Start. I see what Head Start has done for me and my family, I want everyone to reap the benefits and take advantage.”

She credits all her success to Head Start and the push she received from fellow staff members, believing that people don’t really realize the impact Head Start can have, not only on children, but parents as well.

“My time was so different. We grew up poor, so I’m appreciative how my life turned out. I look back and think that was a difficult time, and I didn’t even know it,” recalled Ms. Kelly. “I can’t stress enough, if it wasn’t for Head Start… It has kept me focused, kept me driven. Head Start has been so good to me.”

Ms. Kelly explained, “1975 up until now I have helped children, and I love every bit of it.”

Read more of Ms. Annie Kelly's story, here.



Shemicka Moore Resized for Website.jpgShemicka Monroe

Shemicka Monroe knows first-hand how important Action Pathways Head Start program is to the community.

“I went to Head Start; my son went to Head Start,” Shemicka explains. “It’s important for a child to see me every day; it builds consistency. That’s so important for children.”

It is that feeling that compels Shemicka to show up every day, ready to teach and motivate.

“You can’t be lazy; always be ready. Don’t get ready, be ready,” she exclaims.

She also attributes Head Start’s work environment for keeping her attendance record without absences.

“I’m not so restricted, allowing me to be creative” Shemicka remarks. “I like that [Head Start] gives us planning time, and I don’t feel like I have to look over my shoulder.”

She also loves working for Action Pathways Head Start so much, she recalls turning down a job opportunity in the recent past.

“I had an interview during the school year, but I cried because I couldn’t leave my kids. They’re just so special to me.”

Her obvious connection to Action Pathways Head Start; the children and families of which she serves, as well as; Head Start’s belief that every child - regardless of circumstance at birth - has the ability to succeed in life, shows in her commitment to be available for Head Start children and families, without a single sick day. Shemicka is an exemplary model of Head Start’s mission to coalesce, inspire and support the Action Pathways Head Start program as a leader in early childhood education and development.

Read more of Shemicka Monroe's story, here.


Now... Don't all those stories make you want to become part of the Action Pathways Head Start Team? It's not too late! Click here to apply today.

Did you know... You can change the lives of children in Cumberland County by donating your time and/or money to Action Pathways and Head Start? For more information, contact: Jessica R. Aspiras, Agency Advancement Director at: (910) 485-6131 ext. 1606 or

If you'd like more information on how you can enroll your child in Action Pathways Head Start, contact: (910) 487-9800. You can also visit: