Christine Sherrod, 33, is the winner of this year's National Head Start Association Staff Higher Education Award.
Sherrod has been employed at MATURA Head Start for five years. She began her work for MATURA as a nutritional aide, but moved into the classroom to work as a teacher aide less than two months later.
"My original plan was to go to college fulltime ... with aspirations of attending our local nursing program" said Sherrod. "However, our Head Start program and the attending students won over my heart."
During her time at MATURA, Sherrod has taken a special interest in family services, and has put forth extra effort to provide direct services to families in need such as making health appointments and providing transportation.
"She's transported families to appointments to Des Moines to the dentist, the doctor, because she's developed a relationship with them," said Julie Lang, Head Start executive director at MATURA Action Corporation. "She truly cares about the children and the families that we serve."
As a single mother of three children, ages 12, 8 and 5 years old, Sherrod decided to purse a Childhood Development Associate (CDA) in the fall of 2008.
Sherrod earned her CDA June 1, 2010, an associate degree with early childhood emphasis this fall, and already on a bachelor's degree contract with the Department of Education's T.E.A.C.H. program, which she will begin in the spring of 2013 at Buena Vista University.
Sherrod was nominated for the award by her coworkers.
"We have other people going to school, but they might not be a single parent, or they don't have kids, they've got someone supporting them and knowing that she's doing this all on her own and trying to balance working fulltime, it's just a big balance" said Lang. "And that's what we want to do for our employees. We want to help her as she's helping her family and others."
As Sherrod continues to pursue her education, she will strive to maintain a position that allows her to continue serving the community and families of Head Start.
Sherrod received a plaque, commemorating her award from the Iowa Head Start Association and scholarship in the amount of $2,500.
Additionally, Sherrod was awarded free registration and two tickets to the scholarships and awards celebration in Washington, D.C., where she will be recognized on the national level and will be recognized at the regional level in Kansas City in June.
"It's demanding, yet fulfilling work, " Sherrod said about the services she provides. "I feel very strong about the services we provide for our community, children, and their families. I am not only grateful for the opportunity that Head Start has given me, but I am proud to be a Head Start employee."