The community can look forward to several upcoming changes at the Rolla Head Start, as the organization works to show the community they are more than simply a preschool. As valuable as that service is, Rolla Head Start is growing in order to find new ways to provide for families in need.

 This growth comes in part, through volunteers from the local Lowe’s. Lisa Clapp and Kyle Oby, Lowe’s employees, have volunteered their time to install a bike path around the Head Start building, and are working on installing a garden on the grounds. 

 “The gardens are also for the community,” said Site Director Kathleen Wilson. “They are more than welcome to come during the summer and get any of the vegetables and fruits.” According to Wilson, the garden will go around their greenhouse. 

“It’s for us mainly to do some class time with the kiddos out there while talking about Spring planting and why we plant,” she said. “When they come back in the Fall we can harvest some of the food.” 

Some of the crops will include pumpkins, sweet potatoes and lettuce. Wilson said the garden will be open to the community members to enjoy. Residents are also encouraged to even stop by and work with the Head Start kids while they plant. 

“That’s something I want to bring to the community, to let them know we do have what I would call a community garden, and they’re more than welcome to come in.” 

Wilson said they previously used a small, four-by-six space for an outdoor garden, and even that tiny area produced a great deal. 

“We had a lot of vegetables that came out of there,” she said. “I was just giving stuff away.” 

Work on the garden will be done this weekend, April 7 and 8, in addition to a ribbon cutting to show off the work already performed by Lisa and Kyle. 

“It’s been awesome,” said Wilson. “They’ve been very easy to work with.” According to Wilson, the original plan had simply been to install a bike shed to allow them to store bikes outside the building, and once there, Lisa and Kyle began inquiring about their needs, and finding new projects to complete. 

“Now we have a bike path for the kids to ride on, and we’re going to have gardens and picnic tables where we can actually have outside class,” said Wilson. 

In addition to this outdoor growth, Wilson explained the Rolla Head Start is seeking to serve younger children, hopefully implementing infant and toddler care in the 2019-2020 school year. This comes after research was performed by the organization, showing there was a need for such care in the local community. 

“We’re also hoping to work with the Rolla School District and possibly get a couple classrooms into the Rolla school district,” Wilson explained. 

There will be some changes required to make this happen, such as new furniture and playground equipment needed to suit infant and toddler sizes, and some expansion made on the building itself. The implementation of the new program is still in its planning stages, but Wilson and the rest of the Head Start staff are excited to see the program move forward.