PATERSON, NJ - Just weeks before his fourth birthday Paterson resident Osiris has already had a chance to walk a red carpet, cameras (at least TAPinto Paterson) snapping pics like local paparazzi.

Sure the performance wasn’t broadcast to televisions across America, or shown on a big screen, but for the young student and his classmates at Eastside Head Start, it was a chance to be a star, certainly in the eyes of their teachers and parents that looked on proudly.

Tuesday marked the last day of classes at the Greater Bergen Community Action (GBCA) Head Start/Early Head Start preschool program, and it was one, billed as “family fun day”, marked with fun, games, and celebration.

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The drenching thunderstorms from the previous night did nothing to dampen the spirits inside the community room of the center, and children joyfully skipped over puddles to take a look inside the fire truck, and members of the Paterson Fire Department, that parked right outside.

For Osiris, the best part of the school year was the “gift” he said he got from his classroom teacher, Ms. Thomas. His mother, Benita Allen, filling in the year was much more than that.

“They learn their letters and colors, they learn discipline, they learn to be respectful, to build friendships,” Allen said, adding that Osiris is her third child to go through the GBCA program. 

Sol Ramirez, offered similar praise of the educational setting. “She’s learned so much,” Ramirez said of her four-year-old daughter Angely.

“The teachers do a wonderful job to make sure each kid does something better,” Angely’s father, Kevin, added.

Asked about her classroom experience Angely simply said “happy!”

For Thomas, who’s been teaching in the school for six years, it was Angely’s answer that summed up here classroom philosophy.

“Education can be challenging,” Thomas said,  quick to offer praise to her sidekick Ms. Daisy. “But learning is fun.”

Thomas said she focuses on teaching critical thinking skills, and letting her students know that even at a young age their thoughts, and feelings, matter.

Thomas would go on to say that the parents all pay a critical role in education. “When children see parents involved they feel valuable inside, it builds their self-esteem, their self-worth.”

Asked about challenges of working in such a diverse community Thomas offered that “each child is different, each parent is unique.”

Her focus always on “being humble” about what a family may be going through Thomas concluded that “teamwork is so valuable.”

The vibe that could be felt throughout the building seemed enough to show that Nancy Griner, the school’s director, had achieved what she set out to with the day, “creating a sense of community.”


Are her graduating students prepared to move up to kindergarten, TAPinto Paterson asked Griner.


“Absolutely,” the veteran early childhood educator responded without hesitation. “Thanks to our curriculum, our excellent teaching staff, and the school readiness skills we teach they are more than prepared.”


GBCA's Head Start/Early Head Start programs are open to all income eligible families. All services are responsive to each child and family's ethnic, cultural, and linguistic heritage. GBCA Head Start/Early Head Start families gain easy access to all appropriate services and programs of GBCA, including housing, education and financial/banking resources. For more information or to enroll, go to

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