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Headstart director set to retire

Lora Boggs, left, director of the Fayette County Headstart program,is planning to retire in September.

By JEFF STANTON - jstanton@newsexaminer.com

Headstart will be losing its long-time director to retirement shortly after the 2018-19 school year begins in the fall.

Lora (Garrison) Boggs, who took over the director’s position in 2000, will call Sept. 14 her last day on the job as director of Fayette County School Corporation Headstart. She’s looking at what’s next.

Boggs grew up in Redkey and graduated in 1972 from Redkey High School before it consolidated with four other schools – Portland, Dunkirk, Pennville and Bryant – to become Jay County High School.

She earned a bachelor’s degree and a masters degree, both in special education, from Ball State University. After earning her undergraduate degree in 1976, she found her way to Connersville.

Life didn’t start off as smoothly for Boggs as did her college transition to Connersville. In fact, Boggs’ life turned tragic when she was 5 years old.

Her father, Robert Garrison, 27, a U.S. Army Korean War veteran, was killed Dec. 14, 1959, in an automobile crash in Delaware County while on duty as an Indiana State trooper. 

“My dad gave us enough love in the short time we had him to last us a lifetime, then my mom (Louise Garrison) turned around and gave us a lifetime of love,” Boggs said.

“She was just a joy, I loved my mom.” Her mother passed away two years ago.

Her first job in Connersville was with the non-profit Fate Center, a local organization for challenged adults which also had a pre-school. She taught preschool half days in Connersville and half in Rushville. 

Then, Boggs returned to Jay County for about 18 months and worked as an education coordinator in the Headstart program in Portland.

She married her husband, Lonnie Boggs, in 1983 and returned here to start a family. She returned to the Fate Center and worked in its early childhood program for the next five years.

In 1990, Boggs took her experience to the Fayette County School Corp., working in the preschool program. Headstart did not come into the FCSC until 1992 or 1993.

Headstart classes meet Monday-Thursday for children ages 3-5. 

“We talked about kindergarten and how now in kindergarten it’s kind of been pushed down that things they used to do in first grade is now a kindergarten skill that they teach,” Boggs said. “I think because of that, and we are expecting kids to begin reading and begin doing some pretty heavy readiness math skills in kindergarten, too.

“If they’re in Headstart, we work on those skills as well, so we hope we get them ready to get into that curriculum when they get to kindergarten.”

Headstart also works at getting kids prepared socially. “It’s a big jump when you’re just 5 years old,” Boggs said, “and you’re so fresh from God to think you’re going to go on a big bus, to a big school and you’re the littlest kids in the school, but you still have to know how the building is laid out, you still have to know how to take care of yourself, and when to ask the teacher for help and how to get to the lunchroom by yourself and to the restrooms.

“So, I think even the socialization that we teach in Headstart hopefully helps them be prepared to go on into kindergarten and not have to learn those skills when they get to kindergarten but to already to have them.”

“I taught Headstart preschool until 2000 and then the director (Donna McElfresh) who had been here since the beginning retired,” Boggs said. “Just a wonderful lady; she was just a wonderful mentor.”

The FCSC will be tasked with appointing a new director.

Plans for retirement? “I’m not saying I’m done working, I like to work, I really, really do,” she said. “I’ve got two grandchildren who just moved to Indianapolis and they are my heart, I love them. I’d like to spend more time with them and help them do homework some evenings and be in their lives. I’ve got a young grandchild here, so grandparenting has been just a joy for me.”

She and a friend, Debbie Barrett, a 1972 graduate of CHS, worked together at Frazee School, have volunteered with the Gleaners Food Bank together and served meals monthly at the Salvation Army. The pair plan to adopt a Blessing Box through Gortner Memorial Church of the Nazarene.

“We’ve talked a lot about what we want to do,” Boggs said. “For all the bad things people say about Connersville, this is a good community and they’ve been good to me as well. Her (Barrett) and I together have talked a lot about that we would like to continue doing those kind of projects and see what we can get into as far as that goes.”