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Pope, Community leaders provide children a 'Head Start'

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Cammie Quinn
  • 43rd Airlift Wing, Public Affairs
Editors Note: To volunteer with the Head Start program, contact the Head Start office at 323-5181.

The children of a local child development center got a surprise visit from two of Pope and Fayetteville's leaders March 11.

Lt. Col. Terri Bailey, 43rd Medical Operations Squadron, Commander, and Robert Hines, 43rd MDOS honorary commander and President and Chief Executive Officer of United Way in Cumberland County, teamed up to read children's books to the students of the Head Start program in Fayetteville.

"I love the interaction I have with the kids," said Mr. Hines. As an active volunteer, Mr. Hines has visited through the last four school terms, and makes an effort to visit the program at least three times each year.

Reading to the children increases their literacy, and lets them see that reading can be fun, said Colonel Bailey. "It's also a way to provide the children with a positive role model," she said.

Mr. Hines also has an appreciation for volunteering with the children's program.
"I like to teach the children to enjoy reading books," said Mr. Hines. "I encourage them to read at home, and if they can't read, I encourage them to ask a family member to read to them."

Mr. Hines also likes being able to send the children home with a lesson to consider.
"Without knowing how to read, how are you going to know what cookie you're eating from the store," Mr. Hines asked.

In asking this question, Mr. Hines was able to make reading personally applicable to each student, making reading important in their own lives.

Colonel Bailey, who wore her Air Force blues uniform, said she appreciates how the children react to seeing her in her uniform.

"It's a good opportunity to expose the children to the idea of the military, especially as a way to pay for their college education," the colonel said.

Head Start is a child development program that provides educational and social opportunities for income-eligible children between the ages of 0 to 5 years. The program is designed to prepare children with essential skills needed to enter the public school system.

Head Start programs promote school readiness by enhancing the social and cognitive development of children by providing educational, nutritional, social and other services to both enrolled children and their families.

"We provide classes to pregnant mothers on how to properly provide for their child," said Chelsehi Carr, Head Start on-site supervisor. "We also have learning accomplishment profiles for each child, which we use to determine the progress of our students and chart their development before entering elementary school."

Volunteering is important to Colonel Bailey, and she makes an effort to coordinate between herself and the squadron's honorary commander as often as possible in order to give back to the Pope community.

"I enjoy every chance I get to come out and volunteer," said Colonel Bailey. "It's a good way to break up the work week and give back to the community. I like working with Mr. Hines and seeing the children, it gives me a different perspective and I always learn something new when I'm here."