Orange County Head Start Staffer Awarded Prestigious Statewide Recognition

Community & Services

Shamella Harmon, Orange County Head Start’s mental health and disabilities coordinator, was recently honored with the Aubrey Puckett Memorial Award by the Florida Head Start Association (FHSA). She is one of only 11 staffers in Florida awarded an annual statewide honor from the association.

The award recognizes the extraordinary work and dedication of Head Start employees who are either alumni or parents within the nationwide, federally funded early childhood education program. Harmon and other award winners were formally recognized during the FHSA’s recent statewide awards banquet in Daytona Beach.

“Head Start has played a major role in making me who I am today,” said Harmon, a Head Start staffer since 2016 and a student of the program as a child. “I’m passionate about my work here because I can personally attest to the positive impact it has on the children and families of Orange County.”

In her role, Harmon provides guidance to Head Start teachers working with children who have special needs. She also develops emotional and mental health initiatives for staff members. Last year, she spearheaded efforts for Orange County Head Start’s inaugural Health and Wellness Summit, held at the Orange County Convention Center. In addition to speakers and vendors, the two-day summit provided employees with a wide range of activities, including wellness checks, biometric screenings, nutrition workshops and an on-site fitness zone.

“Shamella is a success story in every sense of the word,” asserted Sonya Hill, director of Orange County Head Start and who personally nominated Harmon for the award. “Her work with children and families in Orange County is tireless and an inspiration to us all. She is truly deserving of the Aubrey Puckett Memorial Award.”

More than 1,500 children enroll in Orange County’s 22 Head Start centers – which are overseen by the County’s  Community and Family Services Department – each year. In Florida, more than 40,000 children are served by Head Start programs annually.

“What I do is personally rewarding,” she said. “I view my job as a way of contributing to a program with a significant community impact.”

For more information, go to Orange County Head Start.

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