Hinds County Human Resource Agency (HCHRA) Project Head Start elected its Policy Council Executive Officers for the 2017-2018 school year. A program operated by Hinds County Human Resource Agency, Project Head Start is designed to help break the cycle of poverty by providing preschool children of low-income families with a comprehensive program to meet their emotional, social, health, nutritional, and psychological needs. Kenn Cockrell, president and chief executive officer of HCHRA, carries out the overall day-to-day operations of the Agency and supervises the vice president for Head Start and Early Childhood Programs, who is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the Head Start Program. A Board of Directors and Policy Council share governance of the program and believe in governance by “maximum feasible participation” – an idea that was formulated when the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 was enacted and suggests that low-income citizens can best determine what benefits them the most, and should therefore play an active role in the program design and administration of the services within their own community. Dr. Joeann Williams, a community representative, was elected Chairman of the Policy Council. Dr. Williams is a retired educator who resides in Jackson. Dr. Andrea Montgomery, a Jackson resident who is employed with Tougaloo College, was elected Vice Chairman. Like Dr. Williams, Dr. Montgomery is also a community representative. Ebony Jenkins Owens, the parent of a Head Start student, was elected Secretary of the Policy Council. Ms. Owens is employed with Grace & Mercy and resides in Edwards. Angel Carter, elected Assistant Secretary, is also a Head Start parent. She is employed with Homeinstead Senior Care and also resides in Edwards. Gwen Wilks, a Head Start parent and a Mississippi Museum of Arts employee, was elected Member-at-Large. Ms. Wilks resides in Jackson.
The Head Start program helps qualifying children succeed educationally by providing activities to help them grow mentally, socially, emotionally, and physically. The education curriculum is formulated within the context of sound early childhood development principals and is designed to educated three- and four-year-olds and prepare them to be developmentally ready to transition into kindergarten. Classroom environments are arranged to foster social and academic achievement in the eight Head Start domains in order to comply with program objectives. Teaching strategies and individual curriculum objectives are planned and developed by the teaching staff and parents and implemented according to children’s individual needs. Head Start children socialize with others, solve problems, improve their listening and speaking skills, and have other experiences which help them to become self-confident learners. Literacy and professional development activities are available for parents of children participating in Head Start. Parents can receive financial assistance for obtaining GEDs or taking college classes or technical training. “While education is the principal focus, promoting health and stability in the homes of our Head Start families is just as important,” said Cockrell. “HCHRA is pleased to have a Policy Council made up of both Head Start parents and representatives from within the community to help ensure that we operate a highly effective program that yields positive results, now and in the future.”