Head Start teacher educating her students online during coronavirus pandemic


SEVIERVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Preschool children enrolled in the Head Start program are out of school right now because of COVID-19, but in Sevier County, one teacher has found a modern way of reaching her students while they’re at home.

Most children begin using computers before they can talk. Today, modern technology is used extensively by teachers in the 1960s-era “War On Poverty” program called Head Start.

The program has been preparing disadvantaged preschool children for kindergarten for 55 years.

WATE 6 On Your Side visited a classroom on Monday, which is funded by the Douglas-Cherokee Economic Authority.

While no kids were physically at the school, they’re still getting their lessons.

Sabrina Hutson, a Head Start teacher, hasn’t missed a beat in keeping her children engaged.

Sitting in the Quiet Space Library at her classroom in Sevierville, Hutson reads a story about the letter S. There have been no children physically at this Head Start center since mid-March, but that doesn’t stop her from teaching.

The last in-class lesson on March 13 was about our roads. On an average day, there would be up to 20 energetic kids in the classroom. Now, they’re at home.

“We’re not just here for the children. We’re here for the families. A lot of our families, they’ve lost their jobs and their income.”

Sabrina Hutson

The Douglas-Cherokee Economic Authority’s Head Start and Early Head Start programs funds nearly 900 preschool children in eight East Tennessee Counties.

Sabrina Hutson and her staff conduct weekly wellness calls to the parents whose kids are enrolled in their facility.

Like everyone, by this fall, they’re hoping classes will be back to normal.

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