CIRCLEVILLE — Pickaway County Community Action’s Head Start has a new leader following the previous director’s retirement.
Head Start is a program that provides services to families with children three to five years of age and Early Head Start provides similar resources from the mother’s pregnancy to age three.
Sheri Quincel, who has been with Head Start for 13 years, has taken over as Early Childhood Coordinator and is in charge of the Head Start and Early Head Start programs.
Quincel and her husband graduated from Circleville High School, and they have three children. She has a psychology degree from Ohio State University.
“I came here as a family services manager and I do enrollment for Head Start, and I also supervise the advocate piece that our teachers do,” she said. “Teachers teach for half a day and do a half day of advocacy.”
Quincel noted she loves working with children and families and that’s why she took the role.
“[Working with children] is always where my heart is,” she added. “From the first day they come in to meeting with families to do enrollment and make sure their kids will be safe and ready for kindergarten.”
Quincel stated it’s amazing for her to see the children grow not only from ages three to five in Head Start but as the come back with younger siblings.
“One of the benefits of my job is that we have siblings and returning families so not only do I see those kids grow up but then we get their older siblings that come back,” she commented. “We do monthly events where we invite the whole family and the [former students] come back and they remember their teachers, remember being in Head Start and they come back even at 16 to 17 years old.”
According to Quincel, the previous director of PICCA approached her and she applied for the position. Becky Hammond, the recently hired executive director, said she was the right choice from all the candidates they interviewed.
“We had a committee of six people that did the search and we search both inside and outside the agency,” Hammond stated. “We interviewed via Zoom and Sheri by far was the best candidate not only for her skills and dedication to the program, but also her contributions to the program. We recognized that and feel she was the best person to take over. We’re excited to see what she does with it.”
Hammond said Quincel had big shoes to fill after former early childhood coordinator Donna Solovey retired.
“[Solovey] had been with us for 30 years and had consulted with the program prior to that,” Hammond said. “Quincel is going to hit the ground running because the Head Start grant is due Oct. 1.”
Quincel said they’ve been managing this summer with the COVID-19 pandemic, doing porch drops.
“We’ve probably got more parent engagement now,” Quincel noted. “We’ve done porch drops, contact with whatever apps we use and parents feel more confident. We’ve managed pretty well through all this.”
Hammond said creating that family engagement is important.
“We work with the families to make a cohesive family bond with the children so they’re working with them at night, reading to them and doing lessons,” Hammond continued. “Our parents of the kids are so involved, especially during the COVID pandemic, it’s been a great experience.”
In her time at Head Start, Quincel said things have evolved from Early Head Start coming to Pickaway County about 10 years ago.
“That was a huge thing for our program,” she stated. “We have a lot of families that participate in that program and we got an expansion grant three years ago to do full day Head Start. That’s been great for families that both parents work so they don’t have to worry about child care and we get extra time to work with the kids and prepare them for kindergarten and beyond.”
Looking ahead, Quincel said she wants to do more to go green and include technology. She called herself a “techy geek.”
“I love all those medias that we’re using now,” she said. “We brought an application to our program that we can share books with our families, share photos and that’s been big during this time. I want to, and it’s probably not completely possible, but to go green and cut down on waste is a big thing for me. We got some funding and were able to purchase some computers and that cuts down on a lot of waste.”