Stories from Baltimore, MD
St. Veronica's Head Start
For the past nine months I have been serving at St. Veronica’s Head Start in the neighborhood of Cherry Hill in Baltimore, where I assist in one of the classes comprised of three-year-olds. St. Veronica’s has seven satellite sites in other parts of Southeast Baltimore. Because of this, St. Veronica’s is able to provide many more children with the opportunity to enroll and gives second year head start children (4 to 5-year-olds) the chance to spend half of the day in Head Start and half of the day in the pre-K classroom at the school.
As well as there being head teachers and assistant teachers at each site, there is also a Family Service Coordinator. This person develops relationships with the parents and encourages them to volunteer in their child’s class or to attend head start workshops and seminars.
n the three-year-old classroom, my tasks include everything from helping the head teacher prepare activities and playing, talking, and singing with the children to serving breakfast and lunch and finding creative, helpful ways of dealing with temper tantrums. These are all things that I fully expected to be a part of working with the children. There are other things, however, that I have observed and learned through the course of the year that completely took me by surprise. Having never spent an extended amount of time with three-year-olds before, I was not aware that through the course of their first year of school, they go through significant social and developmental changes. They almost seem to go from being toddlers who are still very baby-like to being children who are interested not only in themselves but also in other children and in what is going on around them. I remember very clearly the first time this hit me. One little girl in my class, Ikea, came over to tell me that she had to go to the bathroom and since I was in the middle of doing something else, I told her to have Makala, another child, go along with her. Ikea excitedly put out her hand and said, “Come on Makala! Let’s go!” and they ran off together to the bathroom, holding hands and giggling. I knew that back in September they would not have been so excited or so interested in doing something together. After that initial observation, I saw changes in them all the time and that is very exciting.
I definitely feel that overall, my experience at St. Veronica’s has been a positive one. Even though the children in my class are difficult and frustrating some of the time, I have learned a lot from them and care about them. I know that I will feel sad when I have to say good-bye to them, as well as to the teachers and other head start employees with whom I have worked.
Notre Dame Mission Volunteers - Americorps
5405 Loch Raven Blvd.
Baltimore, MD 21239
Phone:(410) 532-6864 - Fax: (410) 532-2418