News / Blog

Dezhinette: Celebrating Women Making a Difference at ClackCoKids

By Amanda Caraway, Community Engagement Manager |

March is Women’s History Month, which offers a great opportunity to observe and celebrate the vital role so many women play at ClackCoKids and community organizations across the country. To celebrate, we decided to honor some of the special women at our agency who have been both parents in our programs and employees. These ladies truly embody the pay-it-forward spirit.

We will introduce you to one incredible woman each week for the remainder of the month. But, keep in mind, these ladies serve as just a few examples. Nearly 200 extraordinary women like these work at ClackCoKids!

 

Meet Dezhinette

Dezhinette, called Dez by those who know her, came to ClackCoKids in 2017 as a half-day teacher at our Wichita Center. The second year she moved to serve families in Oregon City View Manor (OCVM), and she also became pregnant with her son. The next year she enrolled him in our Early Head Start program.

As her career progressed, Dez taught at various other locations including Clackamas Community College. When all locations closed in 2020, Dez worked as a half-day virtual Head Start teacher. Educating 3–5-year-olds virtually posed a unique challenge. Dez tried to keep them entertained with live story times and educational kits that the parent would pick up for each child. She would also do a one-on-one with every child weekly to track their progress.

As if teaching virtually wasn’t enough, Dez also got her bachelor’s degree in special education in 2020. However, she was fortunate to receive the education award from ClackCoKids, which covered the cost of her education. Dez said this access to education has opened up a lot of doors to career opportunities. In addition, her daughter entered Early Head Start in 2020.

In 2022, Dez moved back to in-person teaching at OCVM. With her degree, she was able to work as a Disabilities Specialist who coached teachers on how to serve children with disabilities and develop an individualized support plan for their families. Today she is a special education coach who trains teachers on how to handle issues with behavior management and inclusion in the classroom. She loves this work because she feels like she gets to help even more children and families because she provides support to nearly every ClackCoKids location.

Not only has the agency been a good place to nurture her career, but her family has also been nurtured as well. As a parent in the program, she is grateful to her Family Advocate who helped her in times of need. For example, when she couldn’t afford to buy diapers and clothes for her children. One year, her advocate connected her with an adopt-a-family program so her children would receive Christmas gifts.

Today, she is thrilled to see how the program has helped prepare her son for kindergarten. Through Head Start, he has the social, emotional, and intellectual skills to thrive in a classroom environment. He can problem-solve and interact effectively with peers. He has strong literacy and math skills that include knowing letters, writing his name, sounding out words, and doing addition and subtraction. Her daughter is now in Head Start and she is developing similar skills that will set her up for success when she enters kindergarten.