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Elliston wins Head Start alumni scholarship

March 3, 2023

By Gerry McCray
North Idaho College

From left, NIC Head Start Director Beth Ann Fuller, Bonners
Ferry Head Start Cook Sarah Elliston, Idaho Head Start
Association Executive Director Bill Foxcroft and
Bonners Ferry High School senior Neveah  Elliston
pose for a photo during the ISHA awards banquet in Boise.
A North Idaho College Head Start employee and a Head Start alumna were awarded scholarships from the Idaho Head Start Association on February 23 in Boise. Neveah Elliston, a Bonners Ferry High School senior, was awarded the Idaho Head Start Association 2022 Head Start Alumni Scholarship. Cara Bray, a family advocate at Sandpoint Head Start, received the Idaho Head Start Association 2022 Head Start Parent Scholarship.

Head Start is a school-readiness program that provides education and support for young children and their families. The scholarships are awarded to celebrate the success of individuals involved in Idaho Head Start programs.

Elliston attended Head Start at Julien Bucher Early Learning Center in Bonner’s Ferry at four years old. Her mother, Sarah Elliston, is the center’s cook. Elliston said she was grateful to receive the $350 scholarship and that she looks back at her time at Head Start fondly.

“I don’t remember much but a really vivid memory is of these sensory activities where they put out shaving cream on a desk and had us write out letters in it,” Elliston said. “I just remember having such a blast and that it was so messy.”

Elliston said her scholarship award will go toward studying psychology at NIC before she plans to transfer to the University of Arizona.

Elliston said she’s gone back to Head Start over the years to spend time with her mother or help out.

“The classrooms have changed a little bit, but it blows my mind how small everything is,” Elliston said. “Memories are weird because I don’t remember anything being that small, but I do remember teachers being so positive and encouraging.”

Bray’s son, Grady, has autism and at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, his daycare closed and Bray was laid off from her job.

Bray said she looked for a care facility that could take Grady, but in most cases, there were either no spots available or centers couldn’t accommodate Grady’s needs.

Then Bray found Sandpoint Head Start and enrolled her son as quickly as possible.

After Grady was enrolled, Bray came to the center to ask questions about the program and childcare, and eventually, that interest led to Bray applying for and accepting a position at the center.

“I’ve told my supervisor when she enrolled my son, she actually enrolled two people because I had a brutal childhood,” Bray said. “I was very standoffish and closed off, but this gave me a safe space and allowed me to open up and grow.”

A year and a half later, Bray is pursuing a degree in social work from NIC.

“I feel like I found what I’m supposed to be doing in life and couldn’t be happier,” Bray said.

For more information, contact NIC Head Start Program Assistant Robin Blake at robin.blake@nic.edu or (208) 292-1650.

Questions or Comments? Send us an email!

Mike Weland, Publisher

6931 Main St.
P.O. Box 1625
Bonners Ferry, ID 83805
(208) 295-1016

A 9B Media LLC publication
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