Franklinton Head Start hires new director

Published 7:45 am Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Taylor Perkins said she is excited about stepping into her new role as center director at Franklinton Head Start.

Perkins’ first day on the job was Aug. 22. The children start school in a two-day transition, and she said that was the first day for the second half of the children.

She said it has been a good first few weeks. The position is a demanding one, requiring a lot of attention and an upbeat personality. She said she was excited to take on the challenge and has enjoyed it so far.

Born in Monroe and raised in Bloomfield, Conn., Perkins re-turned to Louisiana for college. She graduated from Southeastern in 2010 with a dual degree in psychology and Spanish and is currently taking classes in New Orleans for a master’s degree in social work.

Perkins has been with Regina Coeli Child Development Center for almost three years and was previously a family advocate at a Head Start center in Pearl River. She said she enjoyed her time there and that it was a great training experience.

Becoming a mom is what got Perkins into the field of early childhood education, she said. She was hired by the organization just before college graduation. At the time she had one daughter, now 4. As a new mom, she said she was fascinated by how her daughter was learning and growing.

When the opportunity to work with an organization dedicated to early childhood education came along, Perkins jumped on it. Since that time she and her husband Ryan, who have been married almost six years, have had another daughter, now 1, and are expecting their third child.

“It’s a journey, and I feel like it’s more valuable to me because I’m living it,” she said. “It’s not just a job. I have young children, and it means a lot to me.”

Perkins said she appreciates the way the staff has taken her in, and that they are a good crew with a good work ethic.

The staff Perkins entered was smaller than it was last year. Budget cuts brought on this summer by sequestration resulted in the layoff of four teachers, an office staff member and a food service worker. Mary Stewart Boulware, the center’s director of 16 1/2 years, retired at the end of July.

Perkins said she came in on the tail end of some letdowns and big changes for the staff.

“It was hard for them, and when I came in they were already dealing with the frustration of that loss,” she said. “I empathize with them, because it’s not easy to go through radical change all at the same time.”

The staff is dealing with everything as best it can, and she said the changes are not finished. She said they will get through it as a team and that she has been pleased with the staff’s positive attitude in handling the changes.

The former center director was a great leader who left behind a legacy and big shoes to fill, Perkins said. Since she began, she said she has been focusing on taking what has already been done and ensuring the center is moving ahead in the right direction.

Perkins said she has plans and ideas about how the Franklinton center can grow, but that will be implemented a little at a time. The first parent event of the year was different in that it was held at night, for instance, and she said it was a success.

She said she is looking to increase community involvement and get community members familiar with what the program is all about.

“I feel like it’s a diamond in the rough,” she said. “We do so much for our children, and we really do have our children’s best interests at heart.”

She wants to let the community know what Head Start is capable of, she said.

Perkins, a Mandeville resident, said she is excited about being in Franklinton and working with the community, the families and the children.

Regina Coeli’s motto is, “Is it good for children?” She said that is embodied by the Franklinton center and the program as a whole.

“It’s not just a motto. We really do what’s best for children,” she said. “I encourage the community to come out and to support us.”