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Shawna Meiser, director of Head Start at SUMMIT Early Learning.

MIFFLINBURG — Expanding enrollment in early childhood education programs is Shawna Meiser's goal as she takes over as director of Head Start at SUMMIT Early Learning.

The former director of Girl Scouts in the Heart of PA and Bloomsburg Children's Museum, Meiser stepped into her new role at SUMMIT serving children in Union, Snyder and Mifflin counties late last month. 

"The mission of Head Start is to lift up families and provide them with resources. Throughout my whole career I've always been interested in building lifelong learners," she said. "Early learning, health and holistic family well-being are what we focus on."

SUMMIT Executive Director Doug Bertanzetti said Meiser's administrative and grant-writing experience made her ideal for the position that has been the organization's focus for 51 years.

The Early and Head Start program is open to income-eligible children at no cost with funding providing through federal grants, he said.

"We have to work really hard every year to fill those slots and with the COVID-19 pandemic it's even harder," Bertanzetti said.

SUMMIT serves more than 560 children in the programs and has been providing home-based services for Early Start attendees during the pandemic.

"For families in economic hardship, that isolation can be an added stressor so we want to make sure development is continuing," Meiser said.

To bolster participation, she plans to reach out to families and the community and expand partnerships.

"We need to reach the parents who are not yet served or aren't aware of us," she said. 

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