Celebrating Head Start – Years of Dedication and Impact

Susan Longcor has been with Norwescap Head Start for 44 years of the program’s 58 years of service!

Thursday, June 15th, 2023, was a day filled with celebration, appreciation, and reflection at Norwescap’s Newton Head Start center, the site of a retirement party in honor of Susan Longcor’s 44-year career. The center was abuzz with excitement and appreciation as current and past co-workers, along with Susan’s family, gathered to celebrate her remarkable career and retirement. With 44 years of service to Norwescap Head Start, Susan had left quite a mark on the program and touched the lives of countless children and families. This event and Susan’s career provides an opportunity to reflect on the transformative role of Head Start and Early Head Start in empowering communities and promoting early childhood education. 

Head Start and Early Head Start 

Empowering Families and Children

The celebration of Susan Longcor’s retirement pays testament to the rich history and impact of Head Start and Early Head Start programs. In 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Poverty marked the foundation of Head Start, a comprehensive initiative focused on providing early childhood education, health, nutrition, and parental involvement services to children from low-income families. Within a year, Head Start programs were operating across the United States, with New Jersey establishing its first center in Newark. Since then, Head Start has expanded rapidly, reaching communities in need and fostering a brighter future for countless children.

Head Start programs 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson's War on Poverty marked the foundation of Head Start
key figure in Head Start's early success was First Lady Claudia "Lady Bird" Johnson

Lady Bird Johnson’s Influence

A key figure in Head Start’s early success was First Lady Claudia “Lady Bird” Johnson. Her unwavering commitment to early childhood education and public advocacy amplified the program’s visibility and impact. Lady Bird’s visit to Norwescap’s Head Start class in Tewksbury, New Jersey, in 1965 showcased her genuine interest in the program, galvanizing public attention and support. Her advocacy efforts further solidified the importance of early childhood education in the country’s efforts to combat poverty.

Susan Longcor’s Legacy at Norwescap

Susan’s journey with Norwescap Head Start began in 1979 when she joined our team as a health specialist. Over more than four decades, her passion and expertise in ensuring the health and safety of children left a lasting impact. Beyond her role in health, Susan emerged as an unofficial historian and a staunch advocate for children and families. Her leadership guided the program through various stages and changes, playing a pivotal role in writing the Early Head Start application and supporting expansion projects.

Norwescap’s Enduring Impact

Norwescap has been an integral part of the Head Start and Early Head Start story since our inception on July 20th, 1965, embracing the mission and establishing dedicated centers. The agency’s commitment to quality early childhood education, comprehensive services, and family support has been instrumental in nurturing generations of children and supporting families facing economic challenges.

Honoring Susan Longcor’s Retirement

At Susan Longcor’s retirement party, the atmosphere was one of joy and appreciation. The gathering included her current and past co-workers, as well as her family, who came together to offer kind words and express gratitude for her dedication. Roxanne Doran, a current co-worker, delighted everyone with an array of Susan’s favorite desserts, including her famous lemon squares, along with a delicious vanilla cake with strawberries. Many people in attendance offered their kind words of appreciation to Susan including Mark Valli, Norwescap’s CEO; June Zungolo, Norwescap’s Senior Director of Early Childhood Education; Amy Resotka, our HS/EHS Health and Nutrition Coordinator; Joan Quirk, HS/EHS Community Partnerships Manager; and Robin VanderGroef, a past co-worker.    

“Susan, your tireless efforts have undoubtedly made a significant difference in the world. Your impact on Norwescap Head Start, the children, families, and colleagues you have touched, will be felt for years to come.” As June Zungolo aptly said, “I am forever blessed to have known you and to have worked alongside you.” 

A Legacy of Dedication and Impact

Susan’s retirement may mark the end of an era, but her legacy will forever inspire and guide the Norwescap community. Her tireless efforts have made a significant difference in the lives of countless children, families, and colleagues. Susan is planning to travel during her retirement, but shared, “While I may be done with work, I am not done with giving.” Don’t worry, Susan – there will always be a place for you at Norwescap! 

Susan Longcor has worked at Norwescap for 44 years

Norwescap is grateful for the service of Susan Longcor’s 44-year career as a testament to the transformative power of dedication and service. From the vision of Lady Bird Johnson to the enduring impact of Norwescap, the journey of Head Start and Early Head Start has been an inspiring one. As the story of Head Start & Early Head Start continues, Norwescap remains committed to uplifting and empowering children and families, ensuring a bright and promising future for generations to come. 

posted by Dawn Hartfelder – updated 7/25/2023