IHSD Beginnings with Herenia Mairena

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

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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!

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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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IHSD @ Ravenswood is Now Open!

IHSD @ Ravenswood is officially open! Thank you City of East Palo Alto Mayor Abrica, Superintendent Anne Campbell, and San Mateo County of Education staff for stopping by on this special day!