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Ron Herndon from Albina Head StartWe invite you to spend an hour listening to our interview with Ron Herndon, a long-time community leader and activist in Portland and nationally. He has been the director of the Portland-based Albina Head Start since 1975, and his background includes more than four decades of advocacy efforts on behalf of low-income families and young children, and Portland’s black community.

Having served as chairman of the board for the National Head Start Association for 20 years, from 1993 to 2013, Herndon offers a unique historical perspective on early childhood in Portland and nationally. Today, his Head Start and Early Head Start programs serve more than 1,000 children in 33 classrooms at 25 locations in North, Northeast, and Southeast Portland. And he has recently pioneered a Mandarin language program, the first of its kind for a Head Start program in the US.

In this interview, we discuss the history of Albina Head Start, racial discrimination and segregation in Portland, and the history of state and federal policy that systematically isolated and suppressed Portland’s African-American community — actions that still have lasting impact today. Herndon also provides his commentary on the history of education in the country, what is lacking for low-income children, the importance of teacher training and family empowerment, and ideas for changing the lives of children with a commitment to their well-being and success.

Please tune in, share, and enjoy.

Ready, Set, Go! Play and Learn group at Earl Boyles Elementary in Southeast Portland.The Ready, Set, Go! Play and Learn program at Earl Boyles Elementary School gives children from birth to age 3 and their caregivers opportunities to learn in a child-centered and culturally responsive environment. The program, in its second year at Earl Boyles, builds parenting and social and emotional skills, and strengthens relationships between families and schools.

Judy Strand, the CEO of Metropolitan Family Service, which runs the program, highlights the results of the program, while Program Coordinator Maria Perdomo explains, “We notice how the children have been improving in their skills—social/emotional skills, cognitive skills—and how the parents are improving how they connect with their children and support them with positive discipline.”


Angela Parsons speaks about her experience with Head StartAngela Parsons gives us a parent's perspective about her experience with Albina Head Start in North Portland. She talks about how her son made great strides with his academic and social emotional skills during two years in preschool, her renewed interest in Spanish thanks to the school's focus on learning multiple languages, and her confidence in the school to keep her son learning and get him ready for kindergarten. 

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