Every child deserves the opportunity to excel in school and in life.

lady teaches educational lesson to youth boy while tossing blue balls into a fountain

For Jean Smith, teaching is more than a job. She cares for each of her 22 preschool students as if they were her own. Jean began teaching more than 17 years ago, when her youngest son’s Head Start teacher observed her positive interactions with students.

“I applied for a Head Start preschool teacher position, and it was the best decision I’ve made,” said Jean.

Head Start gives children from low-income families a chance to grow and develop through science and technology, the arts, social studies, mathematics, and language and literacy. The program also provides families and parents with support services to encourage their children’s success in school.

Creating a spark for learning among her students is a priority for Jean, and McWane Science Center helps her accomplish this goal. She always looks for new ways to inspire their young minds to explore.

“At McWane’s teacher workshops, I learn lessons and experiments to share with my children,” said Jean. “Many of the ideas—like those involving dinosaurs, tools, machines, and magnets—coincide with Head Start lesson plans.”

Jean brings her students to McWane for field trips and hands-on adventures that resonate with these curious preschoolers. They engage in interactive science exhibits and love to visit Just Mice Size, a fantasy environment with everyday items ten times larger than usual.

Jean particularly appreciates a new exhibit, Itty Bitty Magic City, tailored for early childhood exploration. This state-of-the-art mini city includes a Publix Charities-sponsored Market, complete with play groceries and cash registers to help develop math, sorting, and spatial skills.

“The most rewarding part of my job is knowing I have helped a child in all areas of development,” said Jean, “so he or she can succeed in kindergarten and beyond.”

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