It has been a long time coming, but the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new facility for the Baytown Early Head Start/Head Start program has finally arrived.
Many turned out to see the new 20,000-foot facility settled on three acres at 323 Massey Tompkins Road in Baytown.
Head Start is a program sponsored by the Harris County Department of Education, and it provides students and their families with skills needed to prepare them for the demands of school.
James Colbert, HCDE superintendent, said he was proud to serve as the emcee for what he called a “historic moment.”
“Anyone who knows who we are knows we do many things, and one of the things we are very proud of is the Head Start program,” Colbert said. “Today, it marks an important day for us. We not only get to celebrate our historic program, but also a school that will house even the little ones.”
Colbert explained the facility will house both Head Start students but also early childhood students such as infants.
“I recognized that this is an important service that is provided to our youth,” Colbert said. “This is a long-term strategy on how we can better improve and impact our society. We are taking children who could be easily sitting at home doing nothing all day or getting into stuff, and we are teaching them to recognize letters, colors and how to count to 100.”
HCDE Board of Trustees President Josh Flynn thanked everyone for their interest in the facility.
“This is meant to the help the individual family, but not to substitute the family,” Flynn said. “It is my hope we can make this facility into a shining example to the education establishment on how to prepare young children, who otherwise may not get the same opportunities as their counterparts in the private sector to be competitive in the classrooms setting of the future. It will require dedication from the educators and parents to make this happen.”
Venetia Peacock, Head Start director, called the facility a dream come true after five long years of making it come to fruition.
“I am just excited about what this building will do for our children, families and staff,” Peacock said. “We had to make a lot of accommodations in the other building to make it work. This facility is designed to provide high-quality education to the children and be a place where the parents can come in, meet, engage and learn together, because that is what makes a difference.”
Mayor Brandon Capetillo was present for the event and called it an exciting day.
“I am already just a few steps into the building, and it is impressive,” Capetillo said. “But more impressive is the mission of what will take place here in these walls. To know the young children that will come here that will have access to resources that they would not normally have access to without this facility, to know the staff is involved and the administration, to know the mission they will serve here will benefit our community. I am excited this building now exists in our community.”
Romeisha Lowery, a Head Start parent since 2001, spoke about her children that have gone through the Head Start program.
“All four of my babies have gone through Head Start. I have a freshman who is in the Top 10 Percent of her class at Robert E. Lee High School, and she got her foundation through Head Start,” Lowery said. “My kids that are in public school, I have nothing but great things to say. Their teachers have seen a big difference in the way they behave and the way they are learning. The teachers that have worked hard for my kids, they do a wonderful job. The new kids coming to Head Start will have so many opportunities.”
After Lowery spoke, the Baytown Head Start students performed a song in celebration of the new facility.
The facility includes seven Head Start classrooms, five Early Head Start classrooms, a training room, offices and two playgrounds, one for Head Start and the other for Early Head Start. The facility can hold 180 students, with 140 for Head Start and 40 for Early Head Start. About 45 staff members are to be assigned to the location.
The facility will open this summer to Early Head Start students and welcomes Head Start students this fall.
Peacock said the program is enrolling for the 2019-2020 school year.
“If you have an infant of a child that will turn three by Sept. 1, but is not old enough to go to school, come here,” Peacock said.
Peacock added the Early Head Start component at the facility is the only center ran by HCDE.
“This is our model program,” she said.
For information about enrollment or locations, call 713-672-9343 or visit www.hcde-texas.org/headstart.