Maui Economic Opportunity’s Alex Domingo imparted local flavor and humor while talking about storytelling in Hawai‘i as a chosen speaker by her peers at the Head Start Management Fellows Program graduation held at the University of California, Los Angeles.
Domingo, assistant director of Early Childhood Services, was one of two speakers selected by the 41-member class, who attended the program from June 19-30.
“I spoke about how we tell our stories and how much I appreciated and learned from all my fellows by hearing their stories, along with what we gained from the UCLA professors, faculty and strategic consultants,” said Domingo, who gave the talk on June 30.
The Head Start Management Fellows Program offers courses designed to promote ingenuity and strategic thinking and planning through intensive leadership and management development training sessions. It is a collaboration between the UCLA Anderson School of Management and the Office of Head Start National Center on Program Management and Fiscal Operations.
Domingo is an MEO Head Start success story. While working at Ka Lima O Maui in 2004, she told Darby Gill that she wanted to work with children. He connected her with then-Maui Community College professor Elaine Yamashita, who encouraged her to take the open Head Start child care assistant position.
Getting her feet wet in early childhood education, Domingo wanted more, but the path was not easy. She worked her Head Start and Ka Lima jobs while taking night classes. In 2007, she earned her associate’s degree and in 2020, her bachelor’s degree.
“It took me a really, really long time as I balanced family, working multiple jobs and going to school,” she said. “It’s OK though, I got it done and enjoyed the ride.
“I was blessed with the support of my ʻohana! Without them in my corner, I really would not have been able to do it all.”
Others whom she credited as role models, mentors and supporters on the journey included Yamashita and Julie Powers and early on, Leona Stephens.
As she enhanced her education, Domingo also moved up the ranks from child care assistant to teacher aide to lead teacher to assistant director of Early Childhood Services in her nearly 19 years with Head Start. In becoming assistant director in December 2014, Domingo saw an opportunity to have a greater impact on the community through the work of Head Start.
Domingo is excited about bringing the strategies she learned to Head Start sites on Maui and Moloka‘i to benefit the more than 180, 3- and 4-year-olds enrolled.
“The UCLA program was life-changing,” she said.
Head Start provides preschool for income-eligible families, children in temporary shelter and foster care and others – at no cost to them.
Head Start has faced staffing shortages since the pandemic. Anyone, like Domingo, who has a love of children and is interested in a career in early childhood education, can call 808-249-2988 or visit www.meoinc.org and click to the “Careers” tab.