Below you can find newsletters from the years 2020-2022.
December 2022 Communication Link
It’s hard to believe that this is already our final newsletter of 2022! This is a busy time of year for our program, and also in our own personal lives. Amid all of the activities, stress, and to-do lists, I invite you to take a pause and bring a moment of gratitude into your life. Ready? Here we go: Deep breath in...
Consider what brings you joy. Hold it in your mind and allow yourself to feel the gratitude for that during this pause. Ok, deep breath out! (For all of you rule followers out there please return to your normal breathing from here on out!)
- Beth and Ashley
September 2022 Communication Link
Welcome back! It's been an exciting start to the program year as we transition from Summer Set Up to Autumn Routines. Thank you to all of the enrollment staff that have worked so tirelessly to make sure children have access to the quality care that CESA 11 Head Start and Early Head Start is known for. Each of us plays an important role in creating the excellence of our program and that is evidenced by the joy and support experienced by our children and families.
Now for some program updates! We are entering the fifth year of of five-year grant cycle, and the continuation grant has just been submitted to the Office of Head Start for approval. Please keep your eyes on your email for other program happenings, like the Financial Wellness Series through the NHSA Academy and The Beans, and the Health and Wellness Series updates that will occur each month.
We are happy to be in the new program year and all of the possibilities that it holds.
- Beth and Ashley
June 2022 Communication Link
Summer is definitely here- everything is blooming, the weather is warming, and the beaches are calling! It is a perfect time of year to reflect on the achievements of the past year and take some time for relaxation.
It is also a time to share some wonderful news with everyone! Because of your dedication, diligence, and professionalism, the Federal Review came back with zero findings. There were many positive things that the reviewers highlighted about our program. Each one of you should take pride in the daily work you do for children, families, and community; this was highly recognized by the reviewers. Thank you for upholding the Head Start standards of quality and making this process a success.
As for additional program updates, we have been able to work with the business office to ensure that good things will be happening! Policy Council and the Board of Control has approved an increase to our wage grid, which you will see take effect beginning July 1st. This will be backdated to December 1st, so you will additional one time funds retroactive to that date for hours worked. We have also continued to be dedicated to the retention bonus, which we are excited to announce will be offered at $2000 next program year. This is to incentivize new staff, but will also be for retention of current staff for next program year in acknowledgment of the amazing work you do! Keep an eye on your mailbox for more details regarding these payments; please message Ashley with any questions as Amanda will not be able to answer anything beyond the current information you have at this time.
I think we speak on behalf of each child and family served this past program year when we say, we are so grateful for your attention, leadership, and devotion. This program is wonderful because of the people working here. We have also been planning for a special All Staff this August and can't wait to see you!
- Beth & Ashley
March 2022 Communication Link
Spring is around the corner, the days are longer and temperatures are going in the right direction. Children are enjoying getting outside, playing in the snow and getting fresh air. As John Muir said, “Spring work is going on with joyful enthusiasm.”.
Enthusiasm is evident in our Head Start classrooms and on home visits with families. Children and families are learning and growing! Everyone is hopeful to see COVID levels decreasing in our communities. We’ve worked hard this year to remain open for services while keeping children, families and staff safe. It has been a journey that has only been possible with the help and support of our Head Start and Early Head Start staff. Workforce issues continue to be a challenge for the program, however, we are seeing some positive movement in this area.
Sheri Norgard recently announced her plans for retirement in June from CESA 11 Head Start after 23 years. Sheri led the program forward creating new and innovative ways of serving the Head Start community. We wish Sheri the very best in her future endeavors and are sad to see her leaving.
The program is reorganizing and we are pleased to announce that Ashley O'Brien has been selected as the new Assistant Director of the CESA 11 Head Start & Early Head Start program. Ashley began her career with Head Start as a 4K teacher and, most recently, she was the Head Start coach for the program. She will transition into this new role starting April 1, 2022.
The warmer temps have given us all spring fever and we look forward to what this spring will bring.
- Beth and Sheri
December 2021 Communication Link
This is our official newsletter of the school year. It’s been another whirlwind year with COVID-19 continuing to impact our service delivery. We are thankful for our dedicated and resilient staff that are willing to take this ride with us. We couldn’t do any of this without them.
This summer we were able to provide summer school at many of our Head Start locations thanks to the stimulus funding. This additional programming provided children with rich educational opportunities, outdoor curriculum activities, and tons of fun!
Keeping children, families and staff safe continues to be our priority as we navigate another COVID surge and variant. Many centers were able to upgrade facilities by replacing old HVAC systems, adding air conditioning, updating playgrounds, creating additional staff/child space, and other enhancements that will help keep our environments safe.
In November, the Office of Head Start issued an Interim Final Rule (IFR) that requires: (1) universal masking for persons age 2 and above effective 11/30/2021, (2) vaccination by January 31, 2022 for all Head Start program staff, inclusive of Head Start, Early Head Start, and EHS Child Care partnerships, certain contractors, and volunteers working in classrooms or working directly with children. We are
working through some challenges with enrollment and staffing. Sadly, we have lost both families and staff due to these requirements. This is placing an extra burden on the staff that remain.
Like many other programs and industries, the workforce shortages have hit our program hard. It has become increasingly difficult to find and retain staff. We’ve applied for Child Care Stabilization funds, if awarded, eligible staff will receive funds that will hopefully help with retention.
Despite the challenges, wonderful work continues in classrooms and on home visits with children and families. We are grateful for the continued support of our community partners and staff.
We wish you a happy, healthy holiday season and HAPPY NEW YEAR!
- Beth and Sheri
September 2021 Communication Link
Welcome back to school! It has been another interesting summer and fall as we navigate yet another year with COVID related issues. It is a good thing we have such dedicated and resilient staff that are willing to take this ride with us. We couldn’t do any of this without them.
This summer we were able to provide summer school at most of our Head Start locations thanks to the stimulus funding awarded last year. This additional programming provided children with rich educational opportunities, a lot of outdoor curriculum activities, and tons of fun!
Keeping children, families and staff safe continues to be our priority as we navigate another COVID surge and variant. Many centers were able to upgrade facilities by replacing old HVAC systems, adding air conditioning, updating playgrounds, creating additional staff/child space, and other things that will help keep our environments safe.
Welcome to the new Head Start & Early Head Start staff who joined us over the summer. We look forward to supporting you in your work and providing you with an enjoyable workplace!
It is always exciting to see children returning to our centers. The smiles, laughter, and new friendships are awesome ways to start the year. We wish everyone a safe, healthy, and fantastic school year!
- Beth and Sheri
March 2021 Communication Link
A year ago, COVID-19 was declared a worldwide pandemic and forever changed our daily lives. This past year has put into perspective the resiliency of CESA 11 Head Start. There are many lessons to be learned from the statewide shutdown and slow reopening of our programs. Any challenge/problem can be handled when you have dedicated people willing to take it on, bounce back and persevere.
As with other schools, we have had our share of short term center closures and staff quarantined due to COVID -19. The precautions put in place and tested during summer school helped stop the spread and keep most centers open. The program continues to follow strict health and safety measures including masks, hand washing, and smaller class sizes.
Looking forward to fall, the intention is to return to normal classroom size and services. Recruitment is in full force for both Head Start & Early Head Start. Social media posts and parents are two of our best recruitment tools- parents being primary! This year has been challenging and we are eternally grateful to our dedicated staff for their resiliency and commitment to the program.
- Beth & Sheri
August 2020 Communication Link
WELCOME BACK! We are so excited to reopen our Head Start centers in the coming weeks. It has been a roller coaster since we closed our doors in mid March due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.
A big “THANK YOU” to all of the CESA 11 Head Start staff for their ingenuity and quick response in switching to a virtual platform when Governor Ever’s Stay-at-Home order went into effect. Staff were able to continue serving children and families remotely for the remainder of the school year.
The summer was a whirlwind of exciting activity including a three week summer school opportunity for children at 5 centers. All of the COVID health and safety procedures were tested and refined during summer school. The weather cooperated so children could spend a great deal of time outside enjoying nature. Home visitors began to provide some in person home visits with new and enhanced safety procedures.
The health and safety of our children, families and staff is at the forefront of all we do. Several new safety protocols have been put in place to provide a safe environment for children to learn and grow. All staff, children and families entering any of the Head Start buildings will have a temperature check and be asked to complete a COVID-19 related health check. Hand washing/hygiene and sanitization have always been priorities and continue to be moving into this year.
While we face a new “normal”, the mission and vision of the program remain at the forefront of all we do!
- Beth and Sheri
May 2020 Communication Link
This spring has presented an unprecedented time in the history of our county. We have all been faced with a great deal of uncertainty. It is with great pride that we can share that the mission and vision of CESA 11 Head Start continues to be our beacon of light that leads our work during this time.
In the last 5 weeks, CESA 11 Head Start has shifted to a virtual preschool program for children and families. Teachers, home visitors, family resource providers, and teaching assistants continue to engage children and families. Teachers/TA’s are using a variety of platforms to provide instruction and connect with children and families; family resource providers are checking in with families to ensure they have food, access to wifi, and connecting families with resources to address basic needs; and home visitors continue to provide weekly home visits remotely. Staff have been involved in delivering food and educational materials to families.
Creating a healthy environment for families and staff meant that we needed to be ready to address all the emotions that our staff, the children, and their families may be feeling associated with COVID-19 and the Safer at Home order. One way to do this was to increase the availability of the mental health consultant. Taking the time to care for ourselves is extremely important, especially when times are stressful.
The shift in service delivery was made possible by the ingenuity of our team, the access to technology needed to do so, and the will and determination of our staff to stay connected with children and families. The abrupt end of the school year leaves a sadness for all of us. While we understand it is necessary for the health and well-being of our communities, staff feel the loss of not being able to say good-bye in person and give hugs. We will come back stronger and ready to take on any challenge as we have learned a great lesson on resilience and perseverance.
Wishing you all well!
- Beth and Sheri
March 2020 Communication Link
It is true that spring is upon us and soon we will see the snow melting, warmer days, and trees begin to bud.
As the seasons transition and change, so are our children. They have been working hard since the beginning of the school year developing new skills that will prepare them for their next school transition. During the month of March and April both Early Head Start Home-Visitors and Head Start teachers are planning transition activities. Children who are transitioning from Early Head Start to 3-year-old classrooms will visit these new environments and meet their teachers. Three- year-old children transitioning to 4K will meet their teachers, visit classrooms, and participate in activities. Children transitioning to kindergarten might receive a visit from a district kindergarten teacher or make a visit to their home district classroom.
For parents, school transitions are new and can be scary. Head Start Home Visitors and Family Resource Providers work with parents to help them navigate transitions from one stage of their child’s education to another. There are different expectations with each transition; the support provided by staff eases transitions and assists parents in being life-long advocates for their children.
- Beth and Sheri
February 2020 Communication Link
Children and families grow and change throughout the program year. Staff observe, encourage, and document this growth to be able to share the information with parents/guardians a minimum of 3 times per year. Baseline data was collected in the fall with the next checkpoint coming in February. Staff will be analyzing this data and then sharing results with parents at conferences and on home visits. Family service staff will be reviewing family goals and updating or creating new ones moving forward. It’s always exciting to see where children/families were at during the beginning of the year and talk about growth, challenges, and changes moving forward.
As a program, we continue to focus on staff well-being using Positive Psychology principles and individual responsibility for one’s own well-being. “Learned Optimism” is one of the foundations of positive psychology. According to Martin Seligman, “optimistic people are healthier, have more friends and are generally happier. The first step in positive psychology is to encourage a growth mindset, as opposed to a fix mindset.” The application of positive psychology toward leadership in early childhood education is about finding more meaning, positive emotions, better relationships and more accomplishments. Our hope is that these outcomes will increase the wellness of our program. Children are learning these principles every day in the classroom, so we need to seek this for ourselves as educators.
Congratulations to the newly elected policy council parents! Your voice is a key component in the governance of CESA 11 Head Start. Finally, thank you to the hard working, committed staff who do the important work alongside children and families every day.
- Beth & Sheri