Children in the John Day Head Start preschool program are now gathering in a new building.

The new location is just a few blocks from their old school — moving from the Families First Parent Resource Center on South Canyon Boulevard to the Madden Business and Education Center at 116 N. Bridge St. in John Day.

Umatilla-Morrow County Head Start serves the local program. Executive Director Maureen McGrath said the new location fits the bill.

“We had been looking for a classroom space that would be larger and designed in such a way that it would be conducive to all the children being visible, maximize children’s learning and adult-child interaction,” McGrath said.

She added that having one large room is ideal for the class. The property also has easy access for the bus to drop off and pick up students as well as adequate parking space.

Grant County Child Care Resource & Referral also moved into the Madden building. McGrath said it brings them together as a team for a one-stop shop for people in the community to receive the resources and support they need.

McGrath said they are excited about the new space and thankful for Families First Executive Director Teresa Aasness. She helped host them in the old building since 2011.

There are 20 students ages 3-5 in the local head start program taught by Shilo Ostberg. Jennifer Hughes is the education manager. Kitman Gill is the teacher assistant, Pam Sass is the bus driver and floater and Windi Deiter is the cook and a floater.

Ostberg said she’s happy with the new facilities. The only drawback is a smaller outdoor play area.

“It’s working out to be a wonderful classroom,” she said. “The children are happy to be here.”

While the class is currently full, McGrath said parents can apply and be placed on a waiting list by dropping in at the school or visiting their website at

McGrath said Head Start’s “long-term goal is to make sure the children are ready for kindergarten and ready for life, and to do that, we wrap all these services around them knowing that these investments early in life will make big difference as they grow and develop.”

For more information contact the John Day Head Start at 541-571-1429 or the UMCHS Hermiston office at 541-564-6878.


Angel Carpenter is a reporter for the Blue Mountain Eagle. She can be contacted at or 541-575-0710.

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