Champlain Valley Head Start is proud and honored to present the first in a series of profiles of children and families who have made great strides and credit CVHS as key to their success. All names and photos profiled in Success Stories are used with permission of the families.

 A Child’s Smile Can Warm Your Heart

Bhakti, Tulasha and Ishmarika Adhikari were refugees from Bhutan who resettled in Vermont in 2008.  The family’s native language is Nepali.  The family enrolled Ishmarika, when she was almost four years old, in the Champlain Valley Head Start ISM-dad_1_1classroom at Sara Holbrook Community Center in Burlington for the 2010-2011 program year.  During the first week or two of school in September, the Head Start teacher noticed that Ishmarika wasn’t eating much breakfast or lunch.  During mealtimes in the classroom, she would pick at her foods, eat very little and very slowly, and occasionally cry or get very upset, and ask to go home.  Other than mealtimes, Ishmarika seemed to be happy playing with other children and enjoying her preschool experience.

At one point, the Head Start teacher observed Ishmarika picking at her teeth, and asked her if her teeth hurt.  The child indicated that her teeth did hurt, and showed the teacher which parts of her mouth were in pain.  That day, with the assistance of a Nepali interpreter contracted by Champlain Valley Head Start, the teacher contacted the family to determine next steps in obtaining dental treatment for Ishmarika.  Working with the family and the interpreter, the teacher contacted a dental hygienist “Tooth Tutor,” contracted by Champlain Valley Head Start, who was able to arrange for a dental appointment for Ishmarika right away.  Following a dental exam, it was determined that Ishmarika had significant dental decay which would require extensive dental surgery, and was quickly scheduled for a pre-operative physical exam with her primary care doctor.  The Head Start teacher and Tooth Tutor worked with the family, interpreter, dental practice, and primary care clinic to schedule, confirm, and attend all appointments, explain the procedures, and allay the concerns of the family. In October, Ishmarika had successful dental surgery and follow-up treatment. Today, she is happy, healthy, pain-free, and has a smile that warms the heart.

A Story of Family Engagement and Success

Meet the amazing Melchior family – mom Elin, kids Cassie and Takumi, and grandma Lois. In 2011, Elin contacted Champlain Valley Head Start and shared a wonderful story of the family’s experience with Head Start.

mel-famElin spent ten years in Japan and adopted Takumi in Japan when he was a baby, and soon after adopted Cassie in China when she was a baby.  Later, as preschoolers, both children attended the Champlain Valley Head Start preschool in Middlebury.  Takumi had speech delays, and as a young child was not inclined to interact much with other children or adults.  But Elin reported that, in Head Start, Takumi blossomed. With compassionate and caring Head Start staff, Takumi began to open up and become more verbal.  Upon entering kindergarten, Takumi received special education services, and his progress continued steadily.  Elin reported that, by fourth grade, Takumi had fully transitioned from special education services, and credits Head Start as a key ingredient to his success.  Likewise, Cassie has developed into a talented and vibrant kid, with a great sense of humor and enjoyment of her school and family.

During the time that Cassie and Takumi were attending Head Start, Lois was volunteering to help with Head Start food service for the classroom, and developed meaningful relationships with children and staff that enriched the life and community of the preschool.  At the same time, Elin was serving as a parent representative on the Head Start Policy Council, and contributing to the governance and parent leadership within Champlain Valley Head Start.  When her children transitioned from Head Start to public school, Elin went on to serve for four years on the school board at Bristol Elementary School, continuing her engagement with, and commitment to, the educational system for her family and community.

We are proud to know the wonderful Melchior family, and to have them among the many successful alumni of our Head Start program.