Serving the Coast from a Coastal Native

IHSD Family Services Coordinator Melissa shares her story serving IHSD from the coast.


Working on the coast for IHSD is such a unique and rewarding experience.  Many people know of and have visited the now very popular tourist town of Half Moon Bay.  The roads crowd each weekend with people from all around to visit it's beaches, pumpkin patches, and Christmas tree farms, as well as to eat at incredible restaurants.  However, Half Moon Bay was not always so well-known, and only relatively recently has become such a popular destination.  Although it is constantly changing and growing, there are still many "small town" characteristics that make it such a great place to work, and a special place for our children and families to live. Before going any further, I think it's important to mention that the joy I find in working on the Coast is greatly influenced by my own personal story.Read more

A Healthy Start to 2019!

IHSD Health & Nutrition Services Manager, Fou, shares some healthy perspective to start the new year!


As we enter the new year, there’s no better time to reflect on overall wellness. At IHSD, I
gratefully embrace the incredible leadership that guides the fulfilling work that we do to support
our children and their families.

IHSD’s spirit exemplifies a purpose that is true to the creation of Head Start and that is around
the child’s well being. While our staff are easily found busying themselves with compliance
driven health and nutrition deadlines, we can certainly share that this is the testament to the
love we have for our families and our agency.

We live in a county where folks are constantly stretched to meet the needs of their children, their families and so we take great pride in the confidence they have in entrusting their children to the IHSD learning community.

Our efforts in guiding them around the importance and value of keeping their child healthy and safe by sharing the benefit in timely physical exams, having their children immunized to mention a few and most importantly that their child is thriving, growing, learning.Read more

How to Share the Holiday Spirit

IHSD Family and Community Engagement Coordinator Moana shares what the holiday spirit means to her.


For me, the holidays are a time to pause with the ones we have been blessed with during our life's journey. Taking in and creating an opportunity to reflect, reconcile, build, encourage, and speak life into one another. As we enter a new season of love, laughter, tears, accomplishments, setbacks for a greater comeback, everything that comes makes us a stronger unit. We are definitely stronger together!

During this holiday season don't be afraid to give and take!Read more

My #FavoritePreschoolMemory with Elizabeth Ponce

IHSD alumna-now-staff, Elizabeth Ponce, shares her #FavoritePreschoolMemory. What's yours?


I remember being in class with one of my favorite teachers, Ms. Lorreine (sp?). I didn't speak much English and being of an extremely shy temperament didn't help much. With her, I, however, remember feeling very safe. As I became felt more secure in my new environment, I remember vividly playing with my new friends outside at the Pacifica site that IHSD once had. I can still remember the structures that were there and how the outside area looked.

A second special memory I have is the visit from the firefighters, specifically the sound of their breathing in their masks as they showed us how they crawled on their hands and knees in a burning building. They turned off the lights to make the room feel darker and had us stay quiet, so we could hear the sound of their breathing.Read more

IHSD Cheers to 35 Years

Our 35th-anniversary celebration and inaugural fundraising event was a great success! Thank you for attending, hearing our speakers, making a bid, and especially to those who generously contributed to our Fund-a-Need (Preschool Scholarship Giving).

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Seasons of Love with IHSD

Former IHSD teacher-now-staff, Angel Chang, shares her experience back in the classroom to lead an art project with supplies donated by Blick Art Materials.


My first season with IHSD started in the fall of 2008 in a coastal town with a one classroom preschool site next to a pumpkin patch. After two years of teaching, I continued to stay engaged with IHSD as a volunteer, an advocate, a member of the growth committee, and most recently a staff member. My seasons with IHSD have been nothing short of mission-driven with the growing belief that all children should have access to quality early childhood education.

As a staff member, I recently had an opportunity to be back in the classroom and lead an art project. Ahead of the 35th-anniversary event and IHSD's inaugural fundraiser, I was inspired by my seasons with IHSD to lead a painting project for the live auction.

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My #FavoritePreschoolMemory with Porchea Fort

IHSD alumna-now-staff, Porchea Fort, remembers her #FavoritePreschoolMemory.


In 2016, I started my journey working for IHSD as a teacher at the Fair Oaks site. After working for a couple of months I found out the preschool I had attended when I was younger was affiliated with IHSD!

Who would’ve thought years down the line I would work for the company where I attended preschool? While I don’t remember much about preschool two specific moments stand out for me.

One was making green eggs and ham after we read Dr. Sesuss’s Green Eggs and Ham. To this day it is one of my favorite books. To my preschool self, making green eggs and ham was such a big deal, because it was like we were making the story come to life. As I write this post, I just had an ah-ha moment and realized why “WOW experiences” are important for children. It gives them a hands-on approach and leaves a lasting impact, but I digress.Read more

IHSD Beginnings with Herenia Mairena

Legacy staff member, Herenia Mairena, shares her journey to IHSD from 1985.


Hello everyone, my name is Herenia Mairena, and I have the privilege to share how I came to join IHSD and share some of my favorite memories from IHSD’s beginnings.

In leaving my country and everything I’ve ever known behind to come to the United States, I knew it would be very difficult to adapt to a whole new environment. However, I had a dream. My dream was to find a job in something I knew I’d be good at, to be a preschool teacher. Fortunately, my prayers were heard.

"My dream was to find a job in something I knew I’d be good at, to be a preschool teacher. Fortunately, my prayers were heard."

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The Birth of IHSD

We're kicking off IHSD's anniversary month with a blog post from IHSD's founder, Dr. Jean van Keulen!


Prior to my decision to pursue the founding of the IHSD, I had lived and worked in San Mateo County in education and management jobs in the county and throughout the Bay Area for many years. As a resident and parent, I was acutely aware of the rapidly changing needs and challenges that were occurring throughout the county, state and nation; particularly, in the areas of early childhood education, special education, adult education, health, social services and job training opportunities for low-income parents.

Social, economic and demographic challenges were abound during the 1960s and 70s nationally, and resulted in an influx of newcomers to the state and county who were ethnically, culturally, linguistically and religiously different. Change was needed in order to respond appropriately to the diverse needs of the new population. It was an interesting time and place to live politically, educationally, socially, economically and demographically. Frequently, I thought of San Mateo County as a place that was undergoing change for a better future. I believed that people were the county’s most valuable resource and that investing in human development would pay the greatest dividends in the long run

Change was needed in order to respond appropriately to the diverse needs of the new population.

In 1983, it was confirmed that the Head Start Grantee for San Mateo County had been defunded due to findings of some major program deficiencies and numerous areas of non-compliance. I remember thinking at that moment, “I should write a Head Start grant proposal to become the Replacement Head Start Grantee for San Mateo County.” I had gained a lot of knowledge and experience about Head Start, Early Head Start and grant writing during the previous ten years. I knew what a quality program of excellence looked like and felt confident I could write a competitive grant proposal.

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