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:

  • 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

Tarra Kleiser

Program Manager

Phone: 707-487-9255 ext 1501
Phone: 707-954-6258 (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


Education Coordinator

Susan Smith

Family Advocate

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