A spirit of renewal refreshes us as back-to-school season once again breezes in. Last program year was marked by the great success in the federal reviews that took place in April. Grantee and delegate staff and our parents all contributed to making the outcome of “no findings” possible. I cannot thank you enough for your efforts. I know how much dedication and energy it took to achieve these results. It is always nice to get a good report card from the Office of Head Start, but the bonus is knowing it’s our children who benefit.

Another spot of renewal is the arrival of a new superintendent for the Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE), Dr. Debra Duardo. We had great support from Dr. Arturo Delgado, who has retired, and we see equal enthusiasm for early childhood education from Dr. Duardo as she takes the lead for our program.

Dr. Duardo has had a remarkable journey: She became a teen mom, dropped out of high school, and then decided she wanted more for her family than working the counter at Kentucky Fried Chicken could provide. She returned to school, went to community college, and on to bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees from UCLA. Her life story validates our goal of giving our youngest children all the tools they need to achieve in school.

As you may expect, the new program year will bring fresh challenges, starting when the California Department of Education reviews our state-funded programs from September 19 through 23, and continuing with a federal review that will assess teacher-child interactions using the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS, for short). You will be hearing more about this federal review as LACOE collaborates with the delegate agency teaching teams and parents to sharpen focus on emotional and instructional support and classroom organization.

We know that together we can provide a classroom environment that inspires our little learners and meets the carefully researched expectations of the Office of Head Start.

Let’s have a wonderful new year and move forward together to more successes.