Amanda and John



Giana (1 year), Amanda, Anaya (3 years) and John

“All four of us are in school!” Amanda proudly proclaims. She is referring to herself, her husband, John, and their two daughters, Anaya (3 years) and Gianna (1 year). Anaya has been enrolled in Head Start since September of 2012 and Gianna started Early Head Start at the beginning of this year.

Amanda knew about the Community Action Head Start program in Lockhart because her little brother was enrolled twenty years ago.  Amanda’s own children have only been enrolled for a handful of months but already Amanda and John are noticing big differences in their daughters. “Their vocabulary has broadened…Anaya knows how to count to ten in Spanish and she counts to twenty [in English].” The girls have not only advanced academically, but emotionally as well. “Anaya used to be really shy. She wouldn’t want to talk to anybody and now she’s like, ‘Mom! I have a lot of friends!’”

With both girls enrolled in Head Start, Amanda and John were able to return to school. Amanda started taking classes part time at ACC-Riverside. “I wasn’t too serious about going back to school after I graduated from high school. I really wasn’t planning on having a family. But, you know, having my kids and seeing how hard it is just working minimum wage made me want to do better.” She is hoping to enroll full-time in the fall. John said that that the Community Action, Inc. staff gave him that “little extra push” he needed to get started on preparing for his GED. “It’s just been so long since I’ve been in high school and having kids at a young age it was rough at first. I tried doing school before and I couldn’t do it. I was working two jobs and trying to do school and I just couldn’t do it. So I had to hold off on school because we had to be financially stable.” But with his daughters in Head Start, he has a little extra time to put towards GED preparation. He is hoping that he will be ready to take the exams in a month.

The whole family being in school has been a “good bonding experience” for them, John says. Anaya is excited about the whole family being in school. “She’ll wake up in the morning and be like, ‘We gotta get ready for school! Mom, get your backpack!’” Anaya observes her parents and learns from their example.  She told her teacher “when I’m an adult I will go to college like my mommy.” John feels that returning to school to get his education benefits himself as well as daughters. “It gives me more confidence and I know that I can do this for my kids and for me…I can be a better a role model for them.”