"Childhood is not a race to see how quickly a child can read, write, and count. It is a small window of time to learn and develop at the pace that is right for each individual child."
- Magda Gerber
by Katie McGoron
I opened Shine Nurture Center in January of 2015 with a dream of a daycare center where children could play outside, eat healthy food, and be respected as humans. It wouldn't be a typical daycare center, it would be more like a "Nurture Center," I thought. At the time, I had 2 young daughters of my own and was frustrated and disappointed by the lack of developmentally appropriate child care in the area. I had a Master's degree in child psychology and was teaching Intro to Psych classes at local community colleges. "It can't be that hard!" I thought. (Right and also wrong.) The components of healthy child care are simple - lots of free time (most of it outside), free choice (in appropriately stimulating environments), healthy foods (no added sugar, limit processed foods - set the children up for success), and a loving atmosphere where people treat each other with respect (no baby talk, no manipulation, bribes, or threats). Though the ingredients simple, the execution proved to be more difficult.
The bumps in the road (unanticipated expenses, high turnover in the field, the headaches of permits and taxes and licensing) became lessons learned, and high quality care child care that puts the children first (not the profit margin or the fancy facility to impress parents) remained the priority through it all.
In 2018 we reduced our operating hours to provide more consistency of care for the children. This major change set us up for years of future success. The children were happier, the budget less stretched, and I was now able to recruit and retain better trained & educated teachers that aligned with Shine's values. These teachers are foundation of our program.
Over the years, we made - and continue to make - improvements to our little, homey building. Every year's group of families contributes to the growth and development of the center, whether through enrolling their children at Shine and trusting us with their care, providing feedback & support, volunteering on work days, or through donations and stepping up when we make a holiday wishlist.
2020 brought a new mix of challenges with the COVID pandemic. We closed for a period of time and a toddler in our community passed away tragically and unexpectedly. We re-committed ourselves to never take chances with the lives of little ones, we reduced our capacity, and we add added supplemental safety features. Because of the COVID changes we made, some of our families could not return to Shine when we re-opened in August 2020. However, we chose to continue to provide a safe haven from the fear of the pandemic for the small group of children we enrolled.
Now, we look toward the future, 2021 is sure to be full of challenges and growth. In January of 2021, we created the Shine Foundation in an effort to provide scholarships to families who cannot afford our tuition prices. In April, we opened a second toddler room in a new location, providing in-home, Montessori child care in a home in White Oak. We are exploring the option of transforming Shine into an employee-owned co-op so that the employees who have worked so hard can share in the responsibility and the rewards of owning a business. No matter what happens, Shine will be committed to high quality child care and it is my hope that we can continue to grow, improve, and flourish for the families and children that walk through our doors for many years to come.