Beaufort County Migrant Education and Head Start Program - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

06/13/03

Beaufort County Migrant Education and Head Start Program

Migrant workers are back in Beaufort for tomato season, but while the parents work in the fields, the local community is making sure their children are taken care of. The Beaufort County Migrant Education and Head Start Program is where most migrant children spend the majority of their day, while their parents are working in the fields. The buses pick most of the children up at their camps around 6:30am or 7am and they stay at the Migrant School until at least 6pm. But it's a place many of them enjoy coming back to each summer. 

"I enjoy coming and seeing all my friends from the other schools I've been to, like Virginia," said student Irene Garcia.

The Beaufort County school district set up this free program nearly 30 years ago to provide these children with a safer educational environment during their six-week stay in the area. Most of these migrant families travel from Florida, Texas, and even as far as Mexico, and many of them come back to this program each year.

"Most of them we have from when they were born till Middle School," said the program's Julia Camello. "We remember their faces."

Throughout the ten-hour school day, all the children, from the infants to the middle schoolers, are given three meals a day, along with snacks. Not only do these children receive an education when they come to this school, but they also receive free dental and healthcare.

For the infants and toddlers, the program is basically set up like a daycare. But for school-aged kids, these few weeks are combined with fun and learning.

"Ideally, every child who leaves here will be bilingual, whether it be Spanish, Mestico, Creol," said Bob Burgin of the migrant program. "They will maintain that language and improve in that language but also learn English as much as possible."

And in just a few short weeks, kindergarten teacher Vicki Hamaker says she sees a big change in her students.

"They pretty much, by the end of the summer, pick up English," she said. "It's quick."

Reported by: Jaime Dailey, jdailey@wtoc.com

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