ANDERSON — In one classroom, several children play doctor, while others practice their building skills with blocks.
In another, tumbling mats spread on the floor cushion a group of pre-schoolers practicing their jumping, counting as they leap.
And down the hall, a handful kids sit in rapt attention as their teacher reads them a story.
The smell of fresh paint, new linoleum and carpet, not to mention new desks, chairs and wooden cubbies permeates the former New Hope United Methodist Church at 812 W. 13th St., mingling nicely with traditional school aromas of glue and paint, and lunch preparations in the kitchen.
Last summer, Transition Resources Corp. (TRC), the Indiana division of Telamon Corp., which runs the Head Start programs in Madison and Delaware counties, bought the former church for $570,430. In January TRC moved into the new facility after completing a $550,000 renovation of the 15,050-square-foot building.
Although it is smaller than Head Start's previous center at 2010 Brentwood Drive, the staff seems thrilled with the new site because of its central location, bright, airy classrooms, modern kitchen — with a dishwasher — and better security.
The only drawback: There's no gymnasium for the kids to play in during winter, said Sherry Edwards, state deputy Head Start director.
That didn't seem so important to Pam Morrow, a classroom assistant, who said the building "is a lot nicer, cleaner, new and more secure."
Morrow benefited from Head Start when her own children were young.
"I started out as a parent volunteer, became a substitute and now I'm an employee," she said. "I love the children. You can make such a big difference in their day."
Children at least 3 years of age but younger than 5 (as of Aug. 1) are eligible for the Head Start program if their family income is at or below the federal poverty level. Children in foster care are also eligible.