By Stuart Hirsch
The Herald Bulletin
---- — 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.
"We truly serve the neediest in our community," Edwards said. "Our goal in Head Start is to ensure that every child is ready for kindergarten."
By focusing on such areas as health, nutrition, education, disability and family services, the staff at Head Start makes sure the children they serve are ready for school. In addition, each family has a family service worker who helps them develop goals.
The program serves 260 children in Anderson, 34 in Elwood and 295 in Delaware County, Edwards said.
Ericka Hernandez, whose son, Uriel, attends, also serves as a parent volunteer at least two days a week and is a member of the local policy council.
"I feel like it's very important for all the families," she said of the Head Start program. When parents go to work, she added, they know their children "are in a safe place where they can learn."
"I like coming to this school and helping as much as I can," said Hernandez, who moved to Indiana 14 years ago from Mexico, where she was a social worker. "What else can I say? Head Start is very important. It's a good program."
Rachel Brooks-Steele has been a Head Start teacher for 13 years in Anderson and loves her work.
Her students have been studying buildings that are part of their world, such as churches, hotels, homes, clubs and roads. They decided to call it "Newspaper City" because many of the buildings are wrapped in newsprint.
In addition to depicting local buildings, her students have been learning about skyscrapers and other types of structures on the Internet. Students in another class have undertaken a similar project.
"They've been working on it for two weeks, and we'll keep doing it as long as they're interested," Brooks-Steele said.
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Head Start facts Transition Resources Corp. (TRC), is the Indiana division of Telamon Corp., which took over the operation of Head Start in June 2012. The combined grant to run Head Start programs in Madison and Delaware counties is $4.05 million. Telamon is a nonprofit corporation based in Raleigh, N.C., responsible for Head Start, Early Head Start and Migrant Head Start and other human service programs in 12 states. The Urban League of Madison County ran the federally funded children's program for 28 years, but relinquished control of the program in 2011 amid federal concerns about deficiencies in its operations. Source: Telamon Corp. and The Herald Bulletin Open house scheduled Transition Resources Corporation (TRC), will hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony and open house April 4 at its New Anderson Head Start Center. The ribbon-cutting ceremony will be at 2:30 p.m., followed by an open house from 3-6 p.m. The newly renovated center is at 812 W. 13th St. in Anderson.