Melody Hedden, A Proud “Wasn't Supposed To”

The Hedden Family (Mother and three children)Melody Hedden was inspired to share her Head Start story, after hearing President Obama speak at the White House Summit on Early Education. There, the president told the story of Captain Chuck Mills, who attended Head Start from 1966 to 1968. He described Captain Mills as a “wasn’t supposed to” who beat the odds by going on to pilot Marine One for two different presidents and start two companies. “Wasn’t supposed to,” said President Obama, isn’t “just Chuck’s story; [it’s] America’s story.”

Hedden wrote to tell us that she, too, is a "wasn't supposed to." Growing up in poverty, she wrote, “My father was a farmer who battled alcoholism; my mother worked odd jobs to help make ends meet.” An aunt convinced her family to enroll Hedden in Head Start in 1979, a decision which impacted the rest of her life. Hedden writes, “I can remember my teacher coming out for home visits. I was sure it was because I was her favorite student. Head Start got my dad, who is the shyest person I have ever known, to not only volunteer but to play Santa for our entire class. Head Start became my security blanket.”

Hedden shared that she went “many years not really acknowledging the amazing gift I had been given from the program, but carrying the security I had learned from Head Start.” She graduated, married, and had children of her own. “I stayed home with my children for a few years and then it hit me: I needed to gift them the experience of Head Start as well.” Head Start helped each of Hedden’s children build on their potential:

“They were able to assist my oldest son in building confidence and paving the way for his career in the U.S. Army. They were able to teach my daughter social skills with the assistance of speech programs. She is now enrolled in college with aspirations to be a social worker. Head Start assisted in giving me the voice to speak up for my youngest son in having his medical needs met. Their help and persistence helped me learn that his failed health screenings were a symptom of something bigger, and led to our finding out that he had a brain tumor, and needed glasses and tubes in his ears. He is now a thriving 13 year old.”

Hedden began working as a family advocate in the same program she and her children once attended. She writes, “I started my career in June of 1999. In 2009, I was awarded Family Advocate of the Year for North Carolina.” She earned a degree in Human Services and a family service credential from Duke University. Hedden continued to “climb that Head Start ladder” and is now a family and community services manager in Crookston, MN. She wrote, “I knew I had moved from a 'not supposed to' to a 'Head Start Hero' in a matter of 16 years. I pledge to dedicate the next 16 years to Head Start and doing my part to foster life changing events in the lives of children and their families.”

June 5, 2019
Last Reviewed: June 5, 2019