Deborah McNair-Calhoun dedicated 38 years of her life to helping Hillsborough County children start their scholastic lives. On Friday, the center where she carried out her mission will be renamed in her honor.
Hillsborough County's Head Start program has prepared more than 80,000 pre-school children for kindergarten and beyond in its 46-year history. It was work that McNair-Calhoun cherished, and it led her to become a figure whose impact has been felt for generations.
"She was the longest serving (Head Start) teacher in the county's history," said Louis Finney, director of Hillsborough County Head Start. "There was a lot of concern when she passed away because she has reached a lot of kids. She made such a difference in the community, so we want to dedicate this building to her."
McNair-Calhoun's death in January came as a shock to those who knew the 58-year-old. In fact, no one knew of her passing until she uncharacteristically didn't show up for work. Colleagues then went to her home and found her deceased, Finney said. The cause of death is still unknown.
The dedication ceremony will take place 9 a.m. Friday morning at the Sulphur Springs Head Start Center, 2911 E. Henry Ave.. McNair-Calhoun's family and students will be on hand to pay tribute to her and see the building renamed.
"It's a pretty big loss to the teachers because she saw every teacher who came throught the program," Finney said. "She was with us so long, she saw the program go from 300 kids to 3,500. She was a mentor to a lot of younger parents and an impactful figure to her students."
For more information on the event or to RSVP and attend, contact Heidi Greenslade with Hillsborough County Head Start at 813-272-5140, ext. 3106.