RICEBORO – HeadStart has been housed in several different locations over the years – out in Dorchester, at the old Hineshaw Elementary School, at the Crossroads center and at the old Jordye Bacon Elementary.
Last Wednesday morning, HeadStart teachers and staff welcomed youngsters and parents to their new permanent home in Riceboro along Highway 17.
Kids, many with backpacks ready for the day ahead, filtered in, with the final contingent coming by bus.
“We are beyond elated,” said center supervisor Teddra Jakes. “We have been waiting for this particular place for years. Now that it’s open, to see it come to fruition, there are really no words.”
The building is 42,000 square feet and was built with a combination of grants. There is still a little bit of work left to be done, as the playgrounds aren’t quite finished.
But there are classrooms to accommodate students as young as 6 weeks old. Classrooms come equipped with bathrooms and have interactive boards for the children.
There are 174 children in the Head Start program.
An open house was held August 23 for the kids and their parents to get acquainted with the new center.
“We had children come in for open house and they were crying – they didn’t want to leave,” Jakes said. “They were picking up toys, they were playing. The interactions were great.
“They are excited. We are excited. We are glad we have the support from everybody. We are ready to rock and roll.”
Liberty County Commissioner Marion Stevens, who has been on the Coastal Georgia Area board for 24 years, also praised the opening of the new facility.
“It’s a beautiful place to be and it’s quiet,” he said. “It’s a safe environment in which our children can learn.”
Other CGACAA offices will be located in the building, separate from the Head Start program. Stevens also pointed out the security measures in place to protect the children.
He also was glad that there is a new home, and one that will be around for a long time, for Head Start.
“It’s almost like renting someone else’s car and finally you get your own car,” he said. “You get a chance to drive it. Mrs. Jakes is going to do a wonderful job. Anything she needs, we’re going to stand behind her.”
Jakes said she is excited for what is going to happen at the new Head Start.
“It’s inviting, it’s vivid, it’s welcoming,” she said. “I think the children are going to flourish here, along with the teachers. The technology is already in there. The creativity should be off the roof.”