Charlotte Stokes Retires

After 28 years of serving the Head Start program, Charlotte Weaver Stokes is going out with confidence. She knows her goals have been met.

After listening to proclamations, speeches of her achievements and personal thank you's Stokes addressed her well wishers. "I've always said that I don't want to walk with a big stick, but I tell you today, everything they're saying about me I claim. It's true." The crowd responded with laughter.

Stokes began with a classroom in a church. She ends with educational complexes across East Texas. Her successor Weldon Beard read from a proclamation listing Head Start's service areas. "Today the Head Start Program is in Nacogdoches, Trinity, Groveton, Huntsville, Crockett, Kennard, Coldspring and Central Heights and serves over 650 children." Each program began under the leadership of Stokes.

Many Head Start graduates are grown and today are among the 175 Head Start employees. Long before Hollis James Jr. became a staff member he was a child learning his ABC's from a Head Start teacher. The affordable school allowed his mother time for an education. His father was able to get a good job. Both parents benefited from knowing their son was in the head start program. "I'm thankful to head start for that and thankful to Mrs Stokes for allowing me a chance to bring some of that back to the community."

Community Action Executive Director Karen Swenson says each Head Start child is blessed. "Charlotte Weaver Stokes has allowed herself to be tool. A tool to advocate for children and families. A tool to develop staff and push the limit for rural East Texas."

Stokes recognizes her accomplishments, but is still humble. Especially when learning her first Head Start Center in Nacogdoches is now called the Charlotte Weaver Stokes Complex.