Felicia Wells is a Teacher’s Aide at L.E.A.P. Head Start River Street Center, in the Early Head Start Star Room.
When Felicia was in 10th grade at Fort Edward School, she heard about L.E.A.P.’s Summer Youth Employment Program on the loudspeaker. She went to her guidance counselor for an application, and was accepted into the program. Through the SYEP, Felicia worked at L.E.A.P. Head Start at River Street in summer 2018 and 2019.
L.E.A.P.’s Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) allows income-eligible Washington County youth ages 14-20 to work at a jobsite for the summer with support from a Career Counselor and potential for year-round work.
According to L.E.A.P. Employment Counselor Rachel Thomas, “Felicia was a wonderful participant of our SYEP. She started in our program super shy and unsure about what exactly she wanted to do. We decided to place her at Fort Hudson. Her summer of working was nothing shy of perfect. She was reliable, responsible and very dependable! I was thrilled to have her back for a second summer. We placed her at Head Start and I just knew she would flourish yet again. Felicia is a perfect example of what we strive for our Summer Program to be for youth.”
In 2020, Felicia was hired permanently at L.E.A.P. Head Start. About Felicia, River Street Center Site Coordinator Becky Potter said: “Felicia was great in the classroom with the toddlers. When she requested to work with us for the following summer there was no hesitation. She came right in and was able to jump right back into working with the kids where she left off. When she applied for the position as the teacher’s aide both Early Head Start Teachers had nothing but praise to share. Since working here she has been able to relate with the children and has been a great addition to our Early Head Start Staff!”
We recently interviewed Felicia about her experiences as a participant in SYEP and as a current L.E.A.P. Head Start employee.
As a SYEP participant, what did you do?
In summer 2018, I was originally placed at a nursing home because I was interested in health care, but then I started working at Head Start and absolutely loved it! In 2018 I was in the Moon Room, and in Summer 2019 I was in the Star Room, both Early Head Start rooms. I assisted the teachers with the children during play and craft time.
What did you like about your SYEP experience?
I liked the fact that I got to experience the real thing before making a career decision. I also liked the fact that no matter where I was, I always knew I had a support team. Rachel Thomas is an amazing counselor and helped me with getting into SYEP.
Did you have any work experience before SYEP?
No, but throughout my first year at Head Start I really felt a connection with young children and knew that’s what I was passionate about. After that I got so confident and was hired at another company working with children after school.
Why were you interested in applying for a job at L.E.A.P.?
- The younger children amaze me.
- I want to make a change in young children’s lives.
- I had just graduated from the BOCES Early Childhood Program.
- I already knew a lot about L.E.A.P. and knew that everyone who works here goes above and beyond to show the children skills and education. Also, I want to make a difference and a lot of people come here for assistance.
What is your favorite part about your job?
My favorite part is that I get a ton of time with the children. I get to dance, play, sing, and just act silly all day without judgment.
Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?
I see myself working with young children. I’d like to eventually get my CDA (Child Development Associate) credential.
What would you say to young people who are interested in SYEP?
Get involved! SYEP didn’t just help me get a job, they showed me how to manage money and get a bank account. SYEP gives you a huge opportunity to explore the choices you could have in a career field, and teaches you to be dependable, which is great! No matter where you may be placed, try it. I never thought I’d be a teacher but look where I am today! I love my job!
Any final comments you’d like to share?
SYEP helped me grow into the Teacher’s Aide I am today! I am so thankful I got the opportunity to be a part of an amazing organization like L.E.A.P.