The 2017 Francine Bunch Memorial Award Goes to Shawnte Sanger

Shawnte Sanger was awarded the Francine Bunch award on April 20, 2017 at the Pennsylvania Head Start Association Conference held at the Penn Stater in State College, PA. Each year, PHSA honors one staff and one parent who exemplify the characteristics of Francine Bunch, the late Parent Involvement Coordinator for the Lancaster Child Development Program’s Head Start. In addition to the positive impact that Francine had within the program and the city of Lancaster, she played a critical role in the organization of the Pennsylvania Head Start Parent/Staff Association and the Region III Head Start Association.


Shawnte is a current parent of an enrolled Head Start child and an enrolled Early Head Start child in Fayette County. Both of Shawnte's children received EHS services in the home based setting previously. Shawnte also has an older daughter who was a Head Start graduate in 2000.


Shawnte served on the Head Start/Early Head Start of Fayette County Policy Council as a delegate for the Masontown Parent Committee and also as the Chairperson of Policy Council. Shawnte was also voted in as a representative from the Policy Council to the PHSA Board and is currently on the board. Shawnte had to step down from her role on Policy Council when she became a staff person in 2016. Shawnte continued her involvement in her parent committee meetings monthly and as a PHSA Board member, along with being a full-time staff person (providing home based services in the Early Head Start program). Shawnte is also involved on the program's School Readiness Committee, and also participated on the Personnel Committee while on Policy Council (along with several other committees).


While being an enrolled parent, and then an enrolled parent and staff member, and being actively involved on the PHSA Board, Shawnte continued her studies at Carlow University, where she is still enrolled, working on her Master's Degree in Education with a specialization in Early Childhood. She will begin student teaching this summer.


Shawnte began her adventure in Head Start working as a Bus/Nutrition Aide and then an Instructor Aide with an Associate Degree in Child Care Management and continued on to obtain her Bachelor Degree in Elementary Education from California University of PA.


Shawnte has been active in the community, especially with the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program. While raising her oldest child, Shawnte was involved in the local girl scouts, MADD [Mothers Against Drunk Driving], was a cheerleader parent (the first group to get started at the school her child attended) and band parent, and a T-Ball assistant coach. She has been a member of Faith Assembly for the past 10 years.


Shawnte has been a positive role model for other parents being involved on committees and attending parent meetings, parent trainings and other program events, as well as helping to plan events.

Shawnte worked well with her enrolled families and co-workers while being employed with the Private Industry Council in previous years and this current program year. Along with her three children and her husband, Shawnte cares for her 59 year old mother, and her aunt who is diagnosed with Down Syndrome and Autism. Shawnte says “I believe challenges make us better individuals. I always wanted to be a teacher and am still a teacher. I teach my children every day to believe in themselves. I believe that if every teacher/parent teaches children to think positive and dream; they will be able to achieve and believe they can accomplish anything life pitches at them in their journey in life.”

Shawnte continues her commitment to the program and the families in Fayette County by continuing to be involved in her local parent committee, the PHSA board, and participating in Early Head Start socials, as well as volunteering in the classroom with her preschool age child.

Shawnte has shown the characteristics of Francine Bunch by promoting Early Childhood Education, being a voice for quality Early Childhood Services, and being the voice of children with special needs and other challenging disorders. Shawnte shows compassions and understanding and has shown strength in dealing with her own personal challenges in working with agencies to seek services for her own child. Shawnte is an advocate not only for her child, but for all children and families trying to navigate their way through the systems to receive the needed services to be able to be successful in life.