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Mel Gravely

Head Start Stories: Sherri Sharpe

Sherri Sharpe

Here we have another installment for our ongoing series “Head Start Stories,” which uncover the power of Head Start to impact people’s lives long after they leave the program.

This story comes to us from Sherri Sharpe, who attended Head Start when it was still a fairly new program, started only 5 years before

Dear Mr. Gravely,

My name is Sherri Sharpe. I sat in on your session at the Early Head Start Conference in September, 2018. I am a product of Head Start. I qualified for Head Start in Cleveland County North Carolina in 1970. I was fortunate enough to be raised in a two parent home. Both of my parents worked in textiles and I am the oldest of three children. I have two younger brothers.

I would like to share what Head Start meant for me. Head Start was my launching board. I was an introvert and did not speak much. There was no particular reason, I was simply quiet and standoffish. I did not have much family support other than those in my household so Head Start was my first experience in socialization. Head Start provided me with opportunities to engage with my peers through speaking, singing, playing, and sharing. I cannot imagine what my entry into elementary school would have been like if it had not been for my experiences in Head Start.

I gained the courage to speak which empowered me to excel. I maintained well above average grades, joined community organizations, and made long lasting friends simply because Head Start made me feel like I had a voice. I completed high school and entered college where I finished with honors. I earned my Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education and continued my active participation in community and social groups. I was an elementary teacher in a school environment that included Head Start. I completed my Master’s Degree in School Administration in 1997 and served as a school administrator from 1997 to my retirement in 2017. One could say that I was able to retire early. I am 52 years old and successfully retired from public education.

But the story does not stop there! I am currently working as a Family and Community Partnership Coordinator for Early Head Start in Cleveland County. Yes, I am right back where I started working hard to give back to the agency that blessed me in so many ways. Happy Head Start Awareness Month!


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