Xaa-wan’-k’wvt (Howonquet) Early Learning Program

Office Location

12840 Mouth of Smith River Rd.
Smith River, Ca. 95567
Phone: 707-487-1113


Xaa-wan’-k’wvt (Howonquet) Early Learning Program Overview

The Xaa-wan’-k’wvt (Howonquet) Early Learning Program (X.E.L.P.) has two programs that provide a culturally rich environment that fosters a positive image and helps our youngest children experience the pride and confidence needed to become inquisitive and enthusiastic learners. The Tolowa Dee - ni' Nation, received a Federal Head Start grant in 2007. Our full-day Tribal Head Start operates Monday through Friday, 8:30am to 3:00pm throughout the school year, serving children three to five years of age. Our full-day, full year Early Learning Center operates Monday through Friday, 7:30am to 5:30pm throughout the year, serving children two years, nine months to five years of age. The primary purpose of X.E.L.P. is to ensure our preschool aged children are prepared for school and have the opportunity learn the Tolowa language and culture. X.E.L.P. has a comprehensive program that serves the whole family and open to our local community.


L istening Responsively
E ncouraging Compassionately
A cknowledging Strengths
D emonstrating Excellence


W orking in Rhythm
I ndividually and Collectively
S trengthening Supportive Connections
E ngaging in Diverse Learning Communities
R esulting in Trusting Relations


Increase Parent Participation

  • Full day Head Start
  • Full day, full year Early Learning Center

Head Start Parents

When Head Start parents document X.E.L.P.’s School Readiness Objectives, such as read at least one book to your child every week, their time counts toward a donation to our Head Start program. This is called an in-kind donation. It is an opportunity for our Head Start parents to “Give Back” to our program.

Click here: School Readiness Link for Parents

Facebook Page: Howonquet Head Start Parent Committee 2017-18

This Facebook page is administered by the Head Start Parent Committee and is a closed informational page available only to our X.E.L.P.parents. You can ask to join this closed group on Facebook if you are a parent who has a child enrolled in our program.

Click here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/208273912924458/

Child Development Milestones

Click to download: https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/actearly/milestones/milestones-in-action.html

Pre-Enrollment Application

Click to download: https://www.tolowa-nsn.gov/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/Office-Form-236-XELP-Pre-Enrollment.pdf

Previous Year’s Achievements:

  • Federal Head Start and California Adult Child Food Program reviews are in compliance with no findings.
  • Operating a full day/five days a week Head Start program due to a Federal Head Start duration grant received
  • Received one-time funding grant to purchase new kitchen equipment
  • Xaa-wan’-k’wvt Chee-ne’ Tetlh-tvm’ (Howonquet Tree Garden) has trees planted and open to the community soon
  • A Taa- laa-wa cultural story book was created and printed for X.E.L.P. Graduation on "How the Sun Rises" through a First 5 Del Norte grant. A special thank you to the Waa - tr’vslh - ‘a~ (Culture) Department, X.E.L.P. Parent Committee, teachers and children in our program who made this possible.
  • 2016-2017 Annual Report

Xaa-wan’-k’wvt (Howonquet) Early Learning Program Staff

Doreen Wells


Phone: 707-487-9255 ext. 1505
Phone: 707-487-1113 (direct line)
Fax: 707-487-0267
Email doreen.wells@tolowa.com

Tarra Kleiser

Education Coordinator

Phone: 707-487-9255 ext. 1501
Phone: 707-487-1113 (direct line)
Fax: 707-487-0267
Email tarra.kleiser@tolowa.com

Diana Bommelyn

Administrative Analyst

Phone: 707-487-9255 ext. 1500
Phone: 707-487-1113 (direct line)
Fax: 707-487-0267
Email diana.bommelyn@tolowa.com

Patricia Haney

Head Start Housekeeper

Susan Smith

Family Lifeway Coordinator

Phone: 707-487-9255 ext. 1520
Fax: 707-487-0267
Email susan.smith@tolowa.com

Dan`-dee-ni` (Spring Salmon) Class

Nicol Aubrey – Teacher
Email nicol.aubrey@tolowa.com
DeVen Lafazio – Teacher Asst.
Email deven.lafazio@tolowa.com
Zoraida Baltodano de Johnson - Classroom Aide
Email zoraida.bdejohnson@tolowa.com
Classroom 707-487-9255 ext. 1507

Chis-chu (Elk) Class

Vacant –Teacher
Classroom Aide - Sarah Campbell
Email sarah.campbell@tolowa.com
Classroom – 707-487-9255 ext. 1521

K’wee-lhin’-chu (Frog) Class

Mendy Hinshaw – Teacher
Email mendy.hinshaw@tolowa.com
Maria Cruz – Teacher Asst.
Jeremy Armentrout– Classroom Aide
Classroom 707-487-9255 ext. 1506

Ta'-kw'is-chu (Pelican)

Daniela Gonzalez – Nutrition Specialist
Email Daniela.gonzalez@tolowa.com
Edie Brundin - Asst. Cook
Email edie.brundin@tolowa.com
707-487-9255 ext. 1520