Pace daycare facility survives pandemic: 'It’s about family here'

By Jody Conrad | Special to the Press Gazette

Few things in life are as nerve-wracking for young parents as finding the perfect daycare for their children. Above all, parents want to know that their children will be loved and cared for as they love and care for them.

For parents in the Pace, Jay, and Five Points area, there is such a place. 

Miss Marilyn’s Little Olives Day Care Center exudes the things that parents dream of. Set in an idyllic country church at 9475 Chumuckla Highway, the center offers plenty of outdoor play area, wooded settings that lend itself to exploring nature, and multiple classrooms to accommodate all levels of learners.

Miss Marilyn says grace before snack time at Miss Marilyn’s Little Olives Day Care Center.

And love. From the moment one enters Miss Marilyn’s, it is obvious that her charges are well loved and cared for.

“My motto is God first, then family, and then community,” said owner Marilyn Bowman. “I love what I do, and my center is a faith-based center that puts my love for God in the middle of everything here.”

Bowman said after a teaching stint in public schools, “I realized that the most important thing I could contribute was to implant a life-long love for learning in the children under my charge."

Even the rugs on the floor at Miss Marilyn’s Little Olives Day Care Center look like fun.

Miss Marilyn imparts a love for nature and science to her children by collecting things like leaves, insects, and feathers and teaching her children to examine the intricacies of God’s marvelous creation.

“We also do component skills like math, science, arts and crafts, music, and of course, reading,” she said. “What child doesn’t want to learn when they are surrounded by people who are themselves excited about learning?”

The playground includes two areas for different age groups in a wonderful wooded setting

But keeping a private business afloat during this last year has been difficult. Bowman had just opened her dream day care center when COVID hit.

“Many of my families had to move to find employment, but I trust God to provide, so much so that instead of closing my doors, I’ve expanded to offer after-school care also,” Bowman said.

Bowman has been in the day care business for 22 years. She makes a point of following her students well into adulthood, even offering scholarships to those graduating high school.

“It’s about family here,” she said. “We’re not just a day care center, we are family.”

Even snack time involves learning at Miss Marilyn’s Little Olives Day Care Center.

And what more could parents ask for?