Over 300 BCCAA employees were in attendance along with Rep. Willie Simmons, Sen. Derrick Simmons, Rep. Linda Coleman and Rep. Jonny Taylor.
According to Fabian Killingsworth, administrative assistant for Executive Director Elnora Littleton, pre-service training is a requirement for all Bolivar County Head Start employees.
"It's another journey and I am glad about it," said Killingsworth.
The mission of BCCAA is to continue the war against poverty; to serve families in the rural Mississippi Delta and to provide various services and opportunities to help low-income citizens become economically self-sufficient.
"Our program is highly favored and truly blessed,” said Fanesia Johnson, Education/EHS Content Area Specialist. “I challenge myself and our employees to have the highest quality of education and to continue to strive for excellence. When individuals do their very best, goals are accomplished."
The guest speaker for the event was Dr. Sherry Shepard, director of curriculum, assessment, and technology in the West Bolivar School District.
She attended Delta State University, where she received a bachelor's degree in accounting and a master's degree in educational administration and supervision.
She later received her Doctor of Philosophy degree in Educational Leadership from the University of Mississippi in 2005.
Dr. Shepard currently serves on the boards of the Mississippi Reading Association, BCCAA Directors, and the BCCAA Head Start Policy Council.
Shepard began her speech by saying, " I am not really a speaker, and I am a cheerleader."
According to Shepard, she closely aligned her speech with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s “I Have a Dream” speech, to honor the recent 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s speech.
Instead of using the phrase "I have a dream," she used "Break every chain."
"Reading is the new Civil Right. Without an adequate education we are not free," said Shepard.
Bolivar County has over 890 children enrolled in Head Start.
"My heart is rejoicing because of my employees. We know that this year we have to be the best we can be. It is the little things that can cause us to lose our program. "Some programs were closed or lost funding because the board of directors never got a chance to see any bank statements or credit card receipts,” said Littleton. “We want our program to last forever. We do not have some things in our program that are not where they need to be, but with the help of God, we will pass those storms too."
The first day of school for Head Start students was Friday.