This summer marks Head Start’s 50th anniversary. As a proud Head Start graduate and an educator, I can speak first hand to the life-changing difference a quality early childhood education makes in a young life.
My mother, who raised my two sisters and me on her own until I was in kindergarten, always told us that “the two things that no one can take away from you are your health and your education.” However, my single mother could not afford pre-school. For our family, Head Start was hope for a better future, a window to opportunities that seemed, at the time, out of reach.
Head Start instilled in me a sense of confidence and perseverance that not only helped me succeed throughout my primary and secondary education, but also laid the foundation for a life full of learning and the pursuit of my passion: classical music.
Despite growing up in poverty as a young child, I went on to excel both in school and in life. I am the founder and executive director of the Mill Ave Chamber Players, as well as the horn professor at Grand Canyon University and on the faculty at Arizona State University, Phoenix College, and Paradise Valley Community College.
In my volunteer work with at-risk youth at Rosie’s House: A Music Academy for Children in Phoenix, I am proud to tell my students that my childhood was not different from their own and that it’s through your own hard work that you can make a future for yourself.
So happy birthday Head Start, and thank you for opening my window of opportunity.
— Rose French is a musician and educator based in Phoenix.