New day care center aims to educate | Families
Free time means all sorts of things at Imagination Childcare Academy, Inc. in Gates.
For Nicholas Medlar, it constitutes dressing up like a fireman, complete with helmet, coat and big grin.
For Miguel Brito, it means furiously riding in circles around his classroom on a tricycle.
Then it was time to identify letters, with teacher Shelly Fenton handing out letters to each child that corresponded with his or her name. Some wriggled while waiting for their turn. When presented with their letter, they beamed.
Imagination, which is housed inside the former Holy Ghost School on Coldwater Road in Gates, is Director Erin Medlar's dream. The former school teacher had difficulty finding a new job when her family relocated here from Schenectedy after her husband, Mike, got a job in the mechanical engineering technology department at the Rochester Institute of Technology. After several months of searching for work, she decided to open the facility.
Medlar found the site in April and started preparing it in June to house a multi-age preschool. It replaces a Generations Daycare which moved out five years ago. Eventually, she'd like to expand to include other age groups.
The Churchville resident opened her site on the westside of town because she saw a need for it, she said. As a former special education teacher, she believes in individualized instruction to help kids thrive. The experiences of her son, Nicholas, helped galvanize her goal.
"He was my inspiration for creating this place," she said. "He needs it more."
Some kids are visual learners; others auditory. Still others rely on tactile learning, said Medlar, who holds a dual master's degree in science in literacy and special education from the University at Albany.
Imagination strives to present lessons in a multi-faceted way, she said.
For example, instead of just displaying letters on a chalkboard, Medlar and her teachers opt for hands-on learning, such as making letters on a table using shaving cream, to reinforce the lessons.
In addition to tailoring lessons to each student's needs, Medlar also prides her center on offering flexibility to parents. The center is open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. but preschool is offered from 9 a.m. to noon every day, meaning some students attend just for a portion of the day. Parents can send their children every day or pick what days of the week work best for them.
Besides expanding to include more age groups, Medlar envisions starting a private kindergarten and first grade on site, too. She'd also like to integrate more technology into her classrooms, particularly through SMART boards.
"Our job is to get these kids ready as best we can" for school, Medlar said.
Imagination is located at 230 Coldwater Road in Gates. For more information, visit imaginationchildcareacademy.org or call 413-3948.