MILTON — A new daycare facility has opened in Milton, with a completely remodeled interior and flexible hours.
Glover Lane Learning Center was completely redone, from an all-new air conditioning system and plumbing to new flooring and fresh paint, according to owner Sandra Gray, who worked at Navy Federal Credit Union before leaving and opening the center.
“I had no idea it was more than just slapping some paint up,” Gray said about the renovation. “It was bad. It took a long time, it really did. And then [trying to find] contractors in town. I tried to keep everything local, and I still am, because I’m here; I’m going to be taking money from people in Santa Rosa County — this is for them.”
Gray has the help of Tonyia Nevins, the facility’s director, who has worked in child care for many years. Nevins said she met Gray last summer, and was drawn in by her enthusiasm.
Glover Lane Learning Center is open Monday through Saturday, and due to state regulations, Gray was only able to open the facility from 5 a.m. until 10 p.m., but her goal was to be open until at least midnight. Nevins said the structure will differ on the weekend; there will be less academics and more fun activities and classes like sewing. Buses will take school-aged children to the facility for after-school care.
“When we start having nighttime children, they will have breakfast, lunch and dinner here,” Nevins said. “We don’t do cold cereals and Pop-Tarts for breakfast. We’re also peanut-free.”
The facility will serve all organic, non-processed hot meals to the children and they will make their own organic baby food for the infants. There is a play area with new equipment and fresh sod. Gray said she plans to have gardens during the springtime for children to enjoy.
“We start teaching our 1-year-olds academics; colors, shapes, numbers, letters,” Nevins said. “The goal is to have these children better prepared for kindergarten than the average child.”
The facility accepts child care assistance vouchers through the Early Learning Coalition. There will be a Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten program offered 8-11:30 a.m. from Sept. 5 through May 24.
“The earlier you start teaching them, the more successful they are going to be as an adult," Nevins said.
Gray said she had a lot of help from her 82-year-old mother who assisted her with everything from cooking to laying sod.
“We wouldn’t have gotten this all done without my mom,” Gray said.
She also said the facility’s goal is to make sure the children have fun and just be kids.
“More importantly, I want them to learn and I want them to have fun learning,” Gray said. “The motto is: where learning is an adventure. I want them to make it adventurous and make it new and exciting.”
The largest classroom will only have 11 children; although regulations from the Department of Children and Families state that there can be more in a class, Gray said she doesn’t want the classes to get hectic and the teachers to be overrun by children.
“This is not going to be a cookie-cutter daycare,” Nevins said. “We are going to do lots of fun things, and learn as we go.”