Stark County Community Action Agency has a new director for the local Head Start preschool program.
After about two decades with the Columbus-area Head Start operations, Maria Goss began a new chapter Monday as director of Stark County’s version of the preschool program.
Head Start is operated locally by the Stark County Community Action Agency, which hired Goss. Her predecessor, Patrick Vaughan, resigned in 2012.
“I like challenges,” Goss said. “I thought it would be something new. I decided to seize the moment.”
In Franklin County, which includes Columbus, Head Start is under the authority of two agencies.
The southern portion of the county is under the Columbus Urban League, which was where Goss was employed.
After the vacancy occurred here for a Head Start superintendent, “we searched statewide, nationally, really,” said Rodney Reasonover, chief executive officer for SCCAA. “We really didn’t have that many local persons apply.”
Head Start is a federally funded preschool program designed to academically prepare children from low-income families for elementary school.
SCCAA has funds for 855 children in its Head Start and 94 in the Early Head Start component for children under age 3.
The Columbus-area Head Start that Goss supervised had an enrollment of about 1,025.
But “we didn’t have early Head Start,” Goss said, offering a reason why the Stark County job attracted her. “That was one aspect of it. I have a lot of plans, some thoughts. But it is a little early. I do like the mission of Head Start. I like that aspect of helping parents, working with parents and empowering them.”
Goss’ annual salary will be $70,903.
SCCAA, as with the selection of Patrick Vaughan, hired a director with Head Start experience.
“Head Start is a very intricate program,” Reasonover said. “Experience is helpful, management is helpful. The issue with Head Start is that you are providing a quality program so that children are learning. We want to maintain a path of continuous improvement. The feeling is that Maria can help us in this line of continuous improvement.”
SCCAA maintains three main locations for Head Start classes: William Hunter Center at 3015 Mahoning Rd. NE; William Malloy Center at 1134 Walnut Rd. SE, Massillon; and Alliance Franklin Center at 321 Franklin Ave., Alliance.