SIUE volunteer named Illinois Head Start Parent of the Year

November 6, 2013 

Southern Illinois University Edwardsville volunteer Carl Millender Jr. has been named the 2012-13 Head Start Parent of the Year for Illinois and first-runner-up for the National Head Start Association 2014 Parent of the Year Award, the school has announced.

Millender, 34 of East St. Louis, spent the last year engaged, holding down his full-time job, working to complete his master of business administration and a parent of a two daughters. But he still found time to become an avid volunteer with the SIUE Head Start and Early Head Start programs.

According to SIUE leaders, Millender was nominated for:

* Volunteering more than 50 hours

* Serving as vice chair of the SIUE Head Start Policy Council

* Being chair of the Lovejoy Head Start Parent Committee

* Being an Illinois Head Start Association Parent Ambassador

"I feel the primary responsibility of children's education lies with the parent," Millender said. "That is why I became so involved with Head Start.

"The more I learned, the more I realized the importance of the program and what a great resource it is for children and families. Not to mention, the Head Start staff led by Lynnie Bailey and Ethel Coleman is second-to-none."

The mother of the 4-year-old Head Start student was away on active military duty from 2009-2013, and Millender provided the primary support for Paulette.

Two years ago Millender was looking to place his daughter in a pre-kindergarten program when he first learned about the SIUE Head Start/Early Head Start program.

Soon after Paulette was enrolled with Head Start, Millender became an active parent. "I didn't feel I had an option not to become involved," he said. "I was buying wipes for the entire class. If the class went on a field trip, I volunteered. The staff here is so motivating and inspiring, I'd put them up against any Head Start/Early Head Start staff in the country."

Millender works full time at American Steel Foundry in Granite City, where they manufacture rail car undercarriage components. "My employer and supervisor, Mr. Ron Ruble, was very supportive of my volunteer work at my daughter's school. Mr. Ruble would tell me to keep up the good work, and that he was very proud of me."

Millender is a model of a great Head Start parent, said Carolyn Jason, program operations coordinator for the Lovejoy Head Start Center. "He exhibits all of the qualities of an excellent Head Start parent as far as becoming immersed into the workings of the program and volunteering at his child's school," Jason said. "He also benefited by the program's encouragement and goal setting for parents to better equip and empower himself."

Millender, who served 13 years in the U.S. Navy, has his bachelor's in aeronautics from the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Fla. The Head Start staff encouraged Millender to complete his work on the MBA that he had previously started. In June, Millender received his MBA from the University of Phoenix.

"It's extremely important that my daughter see the passion I have for education," Millender said.

McKendree University students from the Division of Computing competed in the Midwest Association of Computing Machinery student programming contest held Nov. 2 at Webster University. One of the two McKendree teams finished second in the competition.

Overall, 139 teams participated in the Mid-Central USA Regional, with 13 teams competing at Webster. In addition to McKendree, students represented Principia College, Missouri University of Science and Technology, Saint Louis University, Webster University, Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville and Lindenwood University.

The McKendree team of Austin Heller, Kevin Schaefer and Caitlin O'Brien finished second of the 13 teams at Webster and 22nd overall in the Mid-Central USA Regional. Mitch Walker, Jon Samples and Kyle Hinterser finished eighth at Webster and 57th overall. It is the best showing McKendree students have had at the competition, according to Dr. Jim Feher, professor of computer science and computer information systems.

Placing first and second in the Midwest were teams from Northwestern University and the University of Illinois at Chicago, which will represent the region at the World Championships held in Russia.

The Southwestern Illinois College Astronomy Club has announced its upcoming meeting topics.

* On Nov. 19 the International Space Station will be up for discussion. The rigors of space have mostly become routine thanks to international cooperation; however, Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano found that life in space can be full of hazards.

* Mars Exploration is the subject Dec. 3. Humans have built a space station and have an itching to explore and colonize space. This meeting will describe the next place we may call home, our nearest superior planet, Mars, and the robotic explorers sent there. Discover plans to send humans to Mars in the next few decades and the need to first explore the surface for water -- a necessity of life. Learn about the two active rovers, Curiosity and Opportunity, which are currently exploring different parts of Mars in search of water and life.

Meetings will be held at 7 p.m. in the Main Complex, room 1360 of the Belleville Campus at 2500 Carlyle Ave. A viewing session will take place after each meeting, weather permitting.

The sessions are free and open to the public. Contact Club Adviser Kyle Stumbaugh at or College Activities at 618-235-2700, ext. 5561, for more information.

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