Head Start Jobs Fair
A quality education program for children in Sunflower County begins with quality adults to lead the way. Judging by the sheer number of people who showed up at a recent jobs fair for the county’s Head Start program, the kids will be in good hands.
An hour before the jobs fair began at The Capps Center on US-82, people had already formed long lines to apply for a host of jobs being offered.
By the end of the three-hour fair, an estimated 1,000 area residents had turned in applications for the 125 jobs being offered in the wake of the Delta Health Alliance (DHA) assuming operation of the Sunflower County program in August.
People such as Tiara Payne of Itta Bena, who is seeking to be an assistant teacher in the Head Start and Early Head Start program. For the community college graduate, working with children will help them realize their goals, she said, while helping her as she furthers her career.
“Head Start is so important for these kids at the very beginning of their education,” said Tiara, a graduate of Mississippi Delta Community College. “I think I could really make a difference in their lives. At the same time, I think it would be a good start for me and help me realize my ultimate goal of becoming a doctor.”
The hundreds of applicants who lined up at the jobs fair underwent an initial application and interview process for the following positions:
- Center director
- Assistant teachers
- Substitute teachers
- Family service coordinators
- Project support jobs
- Bus drivers
- Maintenance technicians
“DHA has been a partner in the Head Start and Early Head Start programs for a while,” explained Sydney Dean, DHA’s associate vice president of Finance and Administration. “We saw an opportunity that would allow us to operate and expand the program in Sunflower County and offer a quality education for the students.”
With locations in Drew, Indianola, Moorhead and Sunflower, the Head Start and Early Head Start program currently serves more than 556 children, including those through partnerships with local daycare centers. DHA hopes to expand the program for more students “to provide the best environments we can,” said Dean.
For now, DHA is focused on hiring the highest quality candidates for the positions available. Following the initial interviews, applicants will undergo drug screenings, background checks and physicals before the hiring of teachers and support staff in September.
Ronnie Dudley of Greenville came to the jobs fair to land a job as a maintenance technician. Currently a construction worker, Ronnie heard about the fair from his father.
“I think this fair is a good thing for the Head Start students and the people who are applying for these jobs,” said Ronnie. “I didn’t expect this many people. As a maintenance person for Head Start, I would be able to do the things that are behind the scenes, but still important to these children. Like making sure everything works the way it’s supposed to.”
The positions that are filled through the jobs fair will help build what Dean calls “the pipeline from birth to college.”
“The Head Start and Early Head Start program and the quality people who will be hired to work with the children are an important piece of that pipeline,” said Dean. “We all have a role to play to ensure that our young people have every opportunity to succeed.”