When she began working for Child Care Resource Center in the mid-90s, Head Start Division Director Betty Zamorano-Pedregon never expected she would be with the agency for a quarter century.
But in November, she celebrated her 26th year with CCRC and Betty says the meaningful work she does keeps her coming back. Here’s more of what she had to say:
What’s your role with the agency and what are your primary responsibilities?
“I am the director for CCRC’s Head Start. I oversee our Head Start, Early Head Start programs, and State Preschool.”
How did you get started with CCRC?
“I had worked for three years at another Head Start program and had a friend who worked at CCRC. When my Head Start was taken over by another program, my friend recommended I come to CCRC, so I did. I started as a health coordinator in the Head Start program. They had just written the grant and brought me on as they were hiring leadership. There were no centers yet. I had only planned to stay three years, just enough time to be able to start a family. After 10 years with the agency, I was promoted to a director position in Resource and Referral. After three years in that role, I moved back to Head Start as an assistant director. The director position opened up in 2010. I applied and was accepted.”
What drew you in to this line of work?
“I always knew I wanted to work with kids. I started out in a classroom as an assistant teacher with school-age kids before becoming a teacher, then I became center director. I did that for eight years and knew I didn’t want to do that my whole career. That’s when I realized I wanted to work with families and administration.”
How many people do you manage in the Head Start Department?
“Today, there are 354 employees in CCRC Head Start and we have about 2,800 kids enrolled. When Head Start was first brought to CCRC, we were like a subcontractor. We had 400 kids for about 10 years. At that time, we weren’t getting much per child and it was hard to do the creative things other programs could do because of the number of children and only about $2 million in funding.”
What motivates you in your work every day?
“CCRC is a great place to work and there’s always work to do. I went to Head Start in preschool and I see how important it had been to me personally, being in the program. Most of us hired on at the beginning came from other HS programs that had been defunded. We came together and said we wanted to have a Head Start that is different from what we came from. We wanted to create something that was really for parents and families.”
What does CCRC mean to you?
“I see it as an anchor. It’s really something solid that people can count on – staff can count on, community, families can count on. I think of CCRC the way I think about my kids’ development: I try to really enjoy and appreciate every stage. From the beginning, I have some very fond memories even though it was difficult. There have always been positives and challenges, but the challenges have always led to improvement and growth.”