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Mel Gravely

A Personal Head Start Story: Sandy Castor

Sandy CastorMy name is Sandy Castor and I am a 1987 graduate of Montclair Childhood Development Center (MCDC), the Baldwin Street location. And I continue to be an active member of my MCDC community as a community member on the Policy Council.

Since graduating Head Start I have been very fortunate and blessed to attend some great schools such as Montclair Kimberley Academy (MKA), Lacordaire Academy, Our lady of the Lake (c/o 1997—A Blue Ribbon School), Mount Saint Dominic Academy (c/o 2001), Carnegie Mellon University and Fordham University.

All possible because I had a HEAD START.

My education offered me access to opportunities I dreamed about as a child. At the age of 22 I became the youngest Senior Staff member within the America Coming Together (ACT) organization; an organization that supported the Kerry/Edwards Presidential Election in 2004. Then at the age of 25 I ran for Council Member at Large within the Township of Montclair, NJ.

All possible because I had a HEAD START.

Albeit I did not win, all of these opportunities set me up to take a job at a Senior level positions in Washington, DC with Mayor Adrian M. Fenty working as his Special Assistant then Director of Scheduling and Advance later moving on to spearhead the Legislative Affairs and Governmental Relations for the District Department of Transportation (DDOT), the largest city agency in Washington, DC lobbying for our multi-billion dollar projects.

All possible because I had a HEAD START.

The best way to explain my story is through the MCDC Mission Statement:

EMBRACE the child. My mother was sharing a story with me the other day as I sorted through old pictures from MCDC. She recounted a story of my time at MKA. The teachers and administrators told her they were impressed by how well adjusted, bright and interactive I was with my peers.


EMPOWER the family. Family is also an important part of the services MCDC provides. My parents have been by my side throughout my entire academic career. This is a principle that MCDC instills that lives beyond the time we, your students and families, spend within the MCDC walls.

We had a HEAD START.

STRENGTHEN the community. I returned to New Jersey to work in the City of Newark that gave me my first “real job”. I chose to become immediately engaged in my local community of Montclair that raised me by joining organizations that I view as pillars in the Montclair community and beyond.


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