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Mel Gravely

A Personal Head Start Story: LaDonya Powell with Geminus Head Start

A couple years ago, at a training with Geminus Head Start in Merrillville, Indiana, I asked Coordinator Community Service LaDonya Powell to write down her experience with Head Start. I wanted to know how she got started and the difference Head Start had made in her life and the lives of her family. The story she sent me was even more powerful than I could have imagined:

Beginning in September 2006 my son began preschool at Hammond Head Start, the delegate agency to Geminus Head Start in Northwest Indiana. As a single mom and new resident to the area, it was such a relief to have my son begin school and interact with other children. Not in my wildest dreams did I think the exceptional learning experience for him would transcend to my own personal and professional development.

“While my son attended Head Start, I served as the secretary of a site committee, a representative of policy committee, and the secretary of the policy council. Some days I would ask myself ‘what have I signed up for’ because I was quite busy; but each meeting became an opportunity for me to learn something new and share experiences with the other parents. The chance to attend conferences both local and national was even better! I felt a sense of ownership from the knowledge I received and as a result became a better parent and a more confident person, confident enough even to apply as one of the candidates for a newly created Head Start job with the ARRA stimulus money.

“August ‘08 marked the one year anniversary of my official start date and I feel so privileged to have the title as Coordinator of Community Service for Geminus Head Start. I am able to speak for and work on behalf of the population from which I once came from (the Head Start parent community). I am also able to feed off of the expertise of my colleagues to make wiser and better decisions which has been nothing short of enhancing the successful outcomes for our enrolled children and families. I only wish to continue the trend of empowerment for parents, for residents new to an unfamiliar area and to single moms. I will be forever grateful to Head Start for this indelible learning experience.”

I would like to thank Ms. Powell for sharing her story with us. It’s stories like hers that remind me everyday of the positive impact that Head Start has had on so many Americans.


  1. PYD says:

    A very inspiring story. Glad to have Ms. Powell as an advocate for the parents, kids and community.

  2. Jeanette O. Keyes says:

    A very inspiring story. These are the types of stories that should be shared with your congressmen and local politicians to show them the impact Head Start has not just on our children but the parents. Head Start empowers individuals in ways more than one could possibly imagine. Thanks for sharing!!!

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