"Head Start was my only chance for an early childhood education." Sheena Prince, Head Start graduate, Oxon Hill, MD
As a young child growing up in the nation's capital, I had the opportunity to attend Head Start at the Peace Lutheran Church in Southeast Washington, DC. I am an individual with special needs and a psychiatric disability and my family was on hard times, so Head Start was my only chance for an early childhood education. After my parents divorced, I suffered separation anxiety and problems adjusting to new environments. Head Start provided a place where I could acquire the fundamental, critical skills of early learning and socialization. It prepared me to enter kindergarten with a reading-comprehension level far above most students in my age group. I became an extremely advanced learner whose placement always posed a challenge to school staff and officials. As I reached high school, it was apparent that I had academic strengths that surpassed my peers.
But I faced many challenges, often due to the educational system's failure to offer good alternatives to students with exceptional learning needs. I feel that some changes are urgently needed to ensure that all children receive a quality education. My main mission in life is to advocate for improvements within the special education sector. I am working toward earning a degree in Early Childhood Education. I would like to help students in early intervention special needs programs have the rich educational background that every child, regardless of ability, deserves just as I received in Head Start.