Each year, Step Forward Head Start serves more than 2,000 children from birth to age five. The agency helps each child reach early education milestones and form a strong educational foundation to set them up for success inside and outside of school.
Before he completed his fourth year of medical school and began his residency, Malik Mays was a Head Start student himself. May’s mother enrolled him for the same reason hundreds of parents choose Head Start; to provide their child with a high-quality education.
Unlike other Head Start students, Mays has a unique connection to the early education program. His mother, VeElla Mays, works for Head Start. Now a Step Forward Head Start Site Administrator, VeElla continues to recognize and advocate for the importance of early childhood education and parental involvement that truly gives children a head start.
“It was a wrap-around program and I could follow his progress,” VeElla recalls.
Head Start’s high-quality curriculum and individualized observations and assessments were the selling point when looking for an early education program for her son.
“As an educator, I knew how valuable and important a good educational start at a young age would benefit a child,” VeElla continued.
VaElla mentioned that Mays was always been open to learning and picked up new concepts easily, so she wanted to make sure the program met his appetite for learning and that Mays would have the opportunity to challenge himself.
When Mays aged out of Head Start, VeElla’s passion for setting children up for success continued. VeElla stayed with Step Forward’s Head Start program. She now works as a Head Start Site Administrator overseeing teachers, staff and students at Step Forward’s Head Start Green Road location. She has been with the agency for more than 20 years.
“It's like you’re in class all the time, which is a good thing, you're always growing. You're always learning,” Mays said.
He joked as he recalled his mother’s at-home lessons with him to ensure he stayed on track.
Mays will graduate with his M.D. in the spring. He is pursuing a residency in obstetrics and gynecology and has a keen interest in robotic-assisted surgery.
Looking back on what he wanted to be when growing up, Mays noted that being a doctor was always on his list. He attributes his success in school to his mother's steadfastness in supporting his goals and her encouragement that bolstered his confidence.
“I just want the best for him, and he took it to a whole new level,” she said. “He is using his talents to make the world a better place and I am so proud of him."
In his free time, Mays volunteers at his mother’s Head Start site by reading to students and talking about medicine and science. He hopes to inspire the next generation of Head Start students and doctors.
Learn more about enrolling your child in Head Start here.
Step Forward Head Start is hiring! The agency is offering a sign-on bonus of $1,000 for full time employees and $500 for part-time employees.
Positions include teachers, family service workers, nutrition aides and more. Step Forward Head Start is looking for education staff passionate about preparing young students for the future and helping them develop a love for learning early. Take a step toward a new fulfilling career today! Learn more and apply to open positions here.