Head Start program instills imagination

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 24, 2003


One student takes out a cash register and asks another, “How much money do you want to spend at the store today?” Another student slips his tiny arms into a small postal uniform. He’s off to deliver mail to fellow classmates.

In another classroom just down the hall, St. John’s smallest scholars crane their necks to see the vivid illustrations in the Dr. Seuss book Bus Monitor Dawn Champagne holds high in the air.

For students enrolled in Head Start at St. John the Baptist Parish Child Development Center, class is an opportunity to use imaginations and to develop some of their earliest friendships. For parents, it is an affordable way to ensure that children are ready for Kindergarten.

“We have a little breakfast,” Gogi Grant-Laurent, teacher and center director said Thursday. “We sing songs and read a story. We break off into centers. Each child has a choice of what center they go to.”

The little learning stations give students the opportunity to play games, use computers, build with blocks, foster literacy and writing skills and more, Grant-Laurent said.

In addition, students enrolled in Head Start get nutritious snacks and assistance with dental health, she said.

The Child Development Center has been a part of St. John’s learning community for longer than most of the teachers and administrators there can remember. There are about nine classes at the preschool. The average class size is about 20 students.

In addition to Head Start classes, the school also offers Model Early classes and Starting Point. The classes, Grant-Laurent said, are similar in content. The income-level of parents largely govern what program students are placed in.

“It is a federal program with income guidelines,” she said when asked about Head Start. “Family members have to meet certain guidelines. Head Start is for low-income families.”

Do you think that your son or daughter is missing out? St. John Child Development Center is now taking applications for the Head Start Program.

To participate, students must be 3 or 4-years-old by September 30. A copy of the child’s birth certificate (U.S. Entry papers), up-to-date immunization records, insurance, Medicaid or LaChip card, and parents’ check stubs may also be required.

Applications for the program are available at St. John Child Development Center, Garyville, St. John the Parish School Board office, Reserve, or at West St. John Elementary School, Edgard.

A “Head Start Application Roundup” will be held at the Child Development Center on March 24-28 from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. The deadline for applications is May 16, 2003.