Rory Sipp is being honored as a Champion of Change for his commitment to delivering on the promise of Head Start in his community, helping to educate and care for our youngest, most vulnerable children.
Growing up I lived with my mother, my father, two older siblings and my grandparents, and I can truly say that I had the best experiences in life. Experiences that would be the foundation of the man I have become today. I don’t recall being exposed to a lot of extraneous stimuli and events like summer vacations or dining out, but I do recall being exposed to the notion that education, integrity, and working hard at becoming successful was an expectation.
We weren’t the most affluent family, but our values and aspirations were rich and very ambitious. The men in my family were, and still are, hard-working citizens and the women in my family have always been brilliant, nurturing and supportive of their families and their communities. It was the brilliance in my parents that caused them to realize that Head Start would be an excellent experience for me.
It was this same brilliance that influenced me at a very difficult time in my life to reach out to my local Head Start program for the same support other members of my family could tap into. Not only am I a beneficiary of the wonders of Head Start, so are my son, my nieces and my nephews – they too are Head Start graduates. Just being a participant was not my final chapter in the book of Head Start.
Over the past 20 years, I have served in many different capacities in the Head Start program and I am proud to say that I have touched the lives of many children, families and staff. I have transitioned from direct service provider (e.g. Teacher Assistant and Teacher), to administrator (e.g. Director of Education and Disabilities & Mental Health Coordinator), to executive. Today, as the Executive Director for Acelero Learning Head Start Program in Las Vegas, Nevada, serving close to 3,000 low-income children and families each program year, I have been afforded the opportunity to lead a team of over 200 highly qualified staff. Each year, we provide quality services in an attempt to close the achievement gap and build better futures for children and families who have stories similar to mine.
I never thought my passion and my work to give back to Head Start and its thousands of beneficiaries in my local community would make me a “Champion of Change.” I don’t do what I do for recognition, although I appreciate any acknowledgment I receive. Everything I do for Head Start, children, families and staff is because I can’t think of any better way to spend my time. Although I live, breathe, and sleep Head Start, the true “Champions” are the millions of resilient children and families who overcome adversity, poverty, domestic violence, homelessness, addictions and so forth, as they struggle on this journey we call life. If it were not for programs like Head Start, what would our beneficiaries do? (Rhetorical for now, but a question you should answer when the time comes to make a change.) “Forward!”