As a child, Nohemi Montalvo attended one of our Head Start programs in Virginia’s Eastern Shore. Before going off to college, she worked at our ECMHSP Cheriton Center as a Bilingual Caregiver for about six weeks. I invite you to learn more about her story.
What is your family’s background?
Thank you for giving me this wonderful opportunity to introduce myself. I have seven family members in my family including me. My parents worked in the tomato fields for three years in Virginia and Georgia. I have been brought up in a Mexican middle class family with a very disciplined atmosphere, where values and principles are a priority. It gives me pleasure to introduce to you my family. First, my father who owns his own landscaping company, but now also works for another company called “The Pool Guyz.” My mother works for a cleaning company. I have four siblings, two older brothers who are currently studying, and two younger siblings. They all have been an amazing source of inspiration and motivation to me.
What do you remember from the Head Start program you attended?
I asked myself the same exact question when my boss and mother told me I attended the exact same Head Start program I was working for. I honestly could not remember any of it until I walked into the Head Start center. It all came back to me; the running around in the infant classroom, except I wasn’t an infant. I could actually run. I believe I might have remembered a Halloween event that my mother attended, and my grandmother cooked for. I remember running around a slide that our center currently has, and all I ever do is see myself going down the slide and running out of the room to go to a middle classroom to pay attention to paper made spiders and webs on the ceilings. I remember being a kid every time I walk in the center, and it truly reminds me of so much joy to the extent where it brings it all back.
Why did you want to work for ECMHSP? How does it help with your career goals?
I wanted to work for ECMHSP for financial assistance for education purposes, but once I thought about the job I would be taking on, it occurred to me how much fun it would be to surround myself in the very exact environment many of my family members spent time in. I’ve had my mother, my aunts, my grandmother work for this program, but I’ve also had cousins, uncles, aunts attend in this program as well. I thought it would be a very lovely experience to partake in. I am happy to say that ECMHSP is a wonderful program and its centers provide helpful environments for me to gain valuable experience. After I graduate from Chowan University, I intend to help children with disabilities. In June, I committed to playing soccer for the university. I’m thankful they helped me with scholarships to make my dream come true.
How did you maintain strong relationships with ECMHSP staff?
I maintained a strong relationship with ECMHSP staff by asking a ton of questions, and never hesitating to ask for help. Often my coworkers, specifically Mrs. Charlotte Bell always gave me so much helpful advice even after I had completed my training. I would say throughout the entire time I worked for the Head Start program, everyone at my center was always communicating with each other and myself to make everything run amazingly smooth.
How did you maintain strong relationships with parents?
By interacting with them in and out of the classrooms about how their child is doing. Every now and then the teachers and I encourage the children and the parents to do educational things with their child at home, and I believe the parents are appreciative of that. I believe that strong relationships are maintained as long as you’re interacting, and that’s really what everyone here at our centers tends to do because we all care.
What kind of agricultural work do the families perform?
Families perform agricultural work in tomato fields, clam and oyster fishing, and nursery farms.
How long do the different seasons last?
Tomato fields last up to two to three months. Whereas, fisheries and nursery farms last up to an entire year. Our season this year will be ending at the end of October.
What is the biggest challenge you have had to overcome in your position?
The biggest challenge I had to overcome was getting comfortable. It didn’t take long, but I could definitely feel how uneasy I felt about doing things simply because I didn’t want to make a mistake. Especially when it came to the kids, I really just wanted them to be comfortable, but I felt as though I couldn’t expect it from them if I couldn’t expect from myself at that moment.
We wish Nohemi the very best during her first year at Chowan University! In the future, we would love for her to join our team again and continue serving our farmworker families.