Former Head Start student and (Whitwell Tiger football star) visits Head Start in Whitwell

As the Whitwell Tigers prepared to take on Cornersville High School for the TSSAA 1-A championship last Saturday, Tanner Stewart (#20) and Cody Floyd (#51) of the Whitwell Tigers stopped by Thursday to visit with the children and staff at the Whitwell Head Start. Both children and  staff at the center showed off their “Tiger Pride”, sporting both Tiger-red shirts and signs and conducting a little Pep Rally for the players.

Tanner, now a senior at Whitwell High School, got his start at the Whitwell Head Start in the classroom of Ms. Barbara Smith. Ms Barbara was a much-loved teacher who died in 2014.  While Tanner doesn’t remember a lot about those days, he does remember having fun and that his teacher was very nice to him. Tanner’s mother, Kathy Stewart, remembers her son’s Head Start days well, and she even kept his Head Start pictures, artwork and momentos. Kathy dropped by the Whitwell Head Start to share some photos of a five year old Tanner. She remembers how the Head Start program helped her son. identify a small speech problem early in his life. Then, Head Start and the Marion County Schools got him the services he needed to overcome his speech impairment. “I loved the two years my son spent at Head Start and I loved the caring staff,” said Mrs. Stewart.

Tanner is the leading receiver in state 1-A football with over 1000 yds for his team. He is also very skilled at baseball and basketball and is a star point guard for the Tigers Basketball team. Tanner plans to attend college in the fall but is undecided about where he will attend. Tanner’s coaches describe him as very hardworking; never missing a practice; a team leader; and always ready to make the play.

Whitwell Head Start center director, Cindy Britton is a die-hard Tiger Fan and wanted to recognize Tanner in a special way. “We are very proud of our Tiger team and especially proud of our former student.

Head Start helps families have access to the American dream and we are very happy to see Tanner striving and pursuing his dream.” Cindy noted that the majority of Whitwell Head Start children will go on to attend Whitwell Elementary, as well as the middle school and the high school.  “Seeing Tanner and Cody today got the children excited about being a “Whitwell Tiger” and going on to ‘Big School,” Mrs. Britton said.

Thanks you Tanner and Cody for your visit!

Contributed By: Christy Vandergriff


Sequatchie Valley Head Start is a federally funded program for children ages 0-5 and serves children in Marion, Sequatchie, Bledsoe,Grundy and Rhea County. Interested in signing your child up for Head Start or Early Head Start? Please visit our website at

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