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

Office Location

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

Parent Only Facebook Group

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

COVID-19 Plan

We understand the COVID-19 Pandemic and the fears associated with it.
School is tentatively scheduled to open on September 28th. The school day will be 5 days per week and 6.5
hours per day, 8:30 am to 3:00 pm.
At Howonquet, there are policies in place to assist in safeguarding our children, families, staff, and their families.
New Policies are as follows (full policy is found in the Parent Handbook and upon request):

  • Class sizes are reduced to 10 children per class.
  • Sanitizing and cleaning will happen all throughout the day, just as before.
  • Staff will wear smocks, face shields, and gloves, when necessary.
  • Children will receive temperature checks and visual wellness checks at the door every morning.
  • Children who show signs of illness and/or have a temperature of or over 100.4 will be sent home for 24 hours.
    o Families who mask illness with Tylenol/Ibuprofen will be asked to quarantine their child for 2-4 days and will receive education packets to be completed from home.
  • Unless prior approval, parents/guardians will not be permitted into the building for drop-
    o Please remain at the door, respecting Social Distancing of 6ft or in your vehicle, for your time to sign your child into school.
    o Check child folders at the door and we ask for a hasty departure so that all families have time to sign their child in/out.

Please read through your Parent Handbook, if your child is enrolled.

If you are a different family member or a friend of the family and have the approval to visit with a child
onsite, please call ahead.

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

The brand new playground structure is in with the pour-in-place.

We still have some work to do to extend the fences out to create an outfield, a slab for basketball, and a bit more of a bike path.

Improvements upon improvements are happening and we couldn’t be happier.

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

Please submit a completed application and supporting documents to:

Education Department
140 Rowdy Creek Road
Smith River, CA 95567

Or email them to mattie.castellaw@tolowa.com.

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

Previous Year’s Achievements:

  • Received One-Time Grant funding for a new playground
  • Classrooms received all new furniture and materials
  • 2018-2019 Annual Report

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

Susan Smith

Program Manager

Phone: 707-487-9255 ext 1501
Phone: 707-954-6258 (direct line)
Fax: 707-487-0267
Email susan.smith@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

Interim Program Manager

Education Coordinator

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

Open Position

Family Advocate

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

Carmen Chavez-Ramirez:

Head Start Housekeeper

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

Nicol Aubrey – Teacher
Email nicol.aubrey@tolowa.com
DeVen Lafazio – Teacher Asst.
Email deven.lafazio@tolowa.com
Amber Gensaw - Classroom Aide
Classroom 707-487-9255 ext. 1507

Chis-chu (Elk) Class

Sarah Campbell - Lead Teacher
Email sarah.campbell@tolowa.com
Marjorie Cavalier - Assistant Teacher
Email Marjorie.cavalier@tolowa.com
Classroom – 707-487-9255 ext. 1521

K’wee-lhin’-chu (Frog) Class

Vacant – Teacher
Email vacant@tolowa.com
Maria Cruz – Assistant Teacher
Chelsea Garewal– Classroom Aide
Classroom 707-487-9255 ext. 1506

Ta'-kw'is-chu (Pelican)

Daniela Gonzalez – Nutrition Specialist
Email Daniela.gonzalez@tolowa.com
Norene Darnell - Assistant Cook
707-487-9255 ext. 1520

Please submit a completed application and supporting documents to:

Education Department
140 Rowdy Creek Road Smith River, CA 95567

Or email them to mattie.castellaw@tolowa.com.