Rebecka Jamison is one of the teachers at the new KiBois Early Head Start in Sallisaw. She adjusts a sleeper in one of the new cribs, which can also be used for evacuation if needed.
Sadie Blackbird, age 2, tries out the new toys at the KiBois Early Head Start Center. Sadie is the daughter of Lyndsay and Justin Blackbird and her mom will be a teacher at the new center.
With a $300,000 grant, the KiBois Community Foundation took over the old band room on the old middle school campus in Sallisaw and turned it into Sequoyah County’s first Early Head Start Center.
The center will welcome 16 students on Monday. The children will be ages birth to 3, and the early schooling is free to children from eligible-income families.
Sherry Hullinger, KiBois assistant Head Start director for Sequoyah, Adair, Cherokee and McIntosh Counties, emphasized that the Early Head Start program is not a day care program, but is a learning program.
“The children will have lesson plans,” she explained.
The 3,200-square-foot old band room “was dark and dreary,” when remodeling began, but is now light and airy, Hullinger pointed out.
The center is furnished with stable, blonde, and adult- and child-sized furniture made by the Amish-owned Community Playthings.
The center also has an outside play area but the development of that has been hampered by the rainy weather, Hullinger said.
In the meantime, the children have an indoor play space for those dark and dreary days.
Dalene Duvall is the site director, and the center will be open from 7:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Volunteers are welcome to join the center staff, which includes two teachers per classroom and part-time aids. Volunteers may apply at the center, and families may apply at the center or by visiting www.kibois.org.
Hullinger said the applications are also available at the center or at any Head Start.
Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director
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