Thank you for the amazing webinar you recently presented to the National Head Start Association (NHSA) community! My staff and I felt incredibly honored and inspired to hear you speak. We only wish it had been longer!
But most of all, I am writing to share with you how much your work has meant to all the Head Start parents, staff, and families here in Michigan that participated in the four statewide workshops. I had the opportunity to hear over 175 personal best stories (I’d guess they are not the stories you typically hear). One parent had worked until 4:00 a.m. at a foster care home, helped her children get ready for school and then, with no sleep, still showed up, so excited to learn. As our participants completed the exercises you presented, I became even more acutely aware that a normal workweek for them includes maintaining 2-3 minimum wage jobs, and caring for toddlers with no health insurance or even transportation. For so many families, an unexpected illness and a needed prescription from the pharmacy can mean no money for food that week. A trip to the doctor often means standing at multiple bus stops in the cold. Yet they continue to volunteer to help others.
It was inspiring to see how quickly everyone grasped the concepts of The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership®, understanding how they Model the Way for their families or Challenge the Process through their advocacy work. But what they need the most—and what they took away from the experience that day—is hope. One young man spoke of his admiration for Operation Hope and the concept of bringing your whole self with you. He wished out loud to be that kind of person. In his evaluation, when asked what he liked best about the workshop, he simply said, “The love”.
What I liked best was how the workshops felt honest and soulful. It was a great privilege to watch the sense of discovery and hope unfold among everyone who participated.
When Edward Condon of the NHSA and I decided to co-facilitate these workshops to the Head Start community, our hope was that this exposure to leadership and its empowerment might change the trajectory of their lives. I know it has already changed mine. Thank you for your work.
Robin J. Bozek is Executive Director of the Michigan Head Start Association. The series of four day-long The Leadership Challenge programs, presented by Jim Kouzes, was hosted by the Michigan Head Start Association and sponsored by the Michigan Sandbox Party.