- November 2023
Assistant Director of Education
Head Start and Early Head Start
Time in position: 10 months
Years at MSU: 5
Helping to prepare our state’s youngest learners for a bright future is what Shandra Hurd strives to do every day in her role as the assistant director of education for the Head Start and Early Head Start programs.
“My passion for early childhood continues to grow every day, and I feel very blessed to have been chosen for this career,” Hurd said.
Although education wasn’t always her plan, Hurd’s gift of teaching and caring for children was recognized before she even graduated high school.
“I wanted to be a physical therapist,” Hurd recalled. “I took an early childhood class in high school that required me to work in a child care setting. By the time I graduated, the daycare convinced me to major in early childhood education in college. Now I can't see myself in any other field of work!”
Among many responsibilities as an assistant director, Hurd ensures full implementation of the Mississippi State University Extension early learning system policies, procedures and tools to help students achieve school readiness goals.
“I love witnessing the ‘ah-ha’ moments when our children are learning or experiencing something new,” Hurd said. “To watch their little faces light up with smiles or to hear their laughter in the centers brightens my day. I also love working closely with the teachers to make sure they have the tools they need to make each child's learning experience a great one.”
Through ongoing coaching and training for the teaching staff, Head Start strives to serve the entire child. This means that not only do the children receive a quality education, but their families also receive services and resources.
Hurd said providing for the “entire child” takes a lot of planning and work, but it is worth it to see them succeed. She added that the first day of school is often her favorite because she gets to witness the culmination of months of preparation in the joy on students’ faces.
“The staff works so hard decorating their centers and classrooms to make sure it is a warm and welcoming environment for the children and families,” Hurd said. “Being able to see their excitement when they walked through the door was priceless.”
Hurd has one daughter, 11-year-old Caylei, and is engaged to be married to her fiance, Shawn, in the spring. She also enjoys shopping, trips to the beach and spending time with her family and friends.