Head Start honors Sumter, area students' mothers


Local mothers received an encouraging message from a former state senator during Muffins with Mom, an event hosted by Head Start to honor students' mothers.

The Head Start program, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, is offered to children from birth to age 5 to prepare them for school. The program hosted an event to honor fathers during the previous week.

Maggie Glover, now the director of developmental programs for the division of general studies at Morris College after serving in the state House from 1989-92 and the state Senate from 1993-2003, talked about the importance of mothers sharing stories and knowledge with their children at an early age.

Mothers are a child's first teacher, she said.

Growing up, Glover's mother told her she was beautiful and encouraged her to do her best every day. Because of her mother's words, she said, she did not let anyone else define her.

"Women need to recognize who we are," Glover said.

When you know who you are, you must know without a doubt that you can do what you put your mind to, she said.

"You hold the single most important position on the planet," she said. "You are Momma."

Glover said women should also evaluate their friends and stand beside people who encourage them to be better and who call out their wrongdoings.

People pick up good behaviors and habits from good friends, she said.

Head Start services help carry out the lessons and habits Glover iterated are vital to children's early education and foundation.

Wateree Community Actions Inc. offers Head Start programs in Sumter, Lee, Clarendon and Kershaw counties. In Sumter, parents can attend facilities in six areas: Goodwill, Statesburg, Hickory Hollow, South Sumter, Morris College and Rubye J. Johnson Head Start Center.

The programs encourage parents to be the first educators in their children's lives to help enhance the child's cognitive, social and emotional development.

For more information about Head Start, go to www.wateree.iescentral.com.

Artrell Brown, family and community partnership specialist for Head Start, said the program started in the 1960s during the "war on poverty" to help children of low-income families prepare for school.

She said 90 percent of the students who attend a program are raised by single mothers.

A complement to Head Start is Eckerd Workforce Development, which provides additional support for women aged 17-24 by helping them earn their high school diploma or GED, according to Tammy Wise, program manager for the program. It also pays for participants to attend vocational schools, for books and supplies and for transportation to school.

Eckerd Workforce Development will remove the barriers to help you get into the workforce, Wise said.

For more information, go to www.eckerd.org.

Brown said Wednesday was a way to honor those phenomenal women raising phenomenal children.

Georgia Mance, director of the Wateree program, said though Head Start is focused on preparing children for school, the ultimate goal is to help the entire family become sufficient and successful.

"We look for the parents," she said, "to continue doing that."