Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Season of Thanks

It’s that time around Coastal Day School where all our sweet little students are learning about Thanksgiving and being asked “What are you thankful for?” about a hundred times. We always love their answers. Of course we get the usual mom, dad, and toys, but we love it when we hear that their thankful for their toilet, unicorns, dirt, farts, and monkey bars. Kids are funny and they don’t even mean to be. They are simply being honest and expressing what it is they are truly thankful for. So, I’m going to take my cue from them and list what I’m honestly, truly, so very thankful for. I’m sure some of it will be silly and maybe not make sense to you, but here it is, what I’m thankful for, in no particular order J

My husband and his patience with all the ideas and projects I have

My spunky, sweet, hilarious girl

My best friend, Jesus

My other best friend, Caroline

My sweet dog Lucy

My amazing family and friends

My amazing business partner and staff at Coastal Day School as well as the amazing families we get to know

Sweet Tea

The ice at Andy’s and Smithfield's

Leaves scented candles from Bath and Body Works

Bathroom fans—life would just plain stink without them J

Snicker Bars

Hand Sanitizer

Hulu and Netflix

Reach Community Church (10am at Leland Middle School if you don’t have a church home J)



RSVP pens









Sunday, November 3, 2013

A little more about us…

It’s so hard for me to believe that this year marked our seventh anniversary!! Time is flying by! I always love telling people our story, sharing our times of celebration and excitement, and also sharing what it took to get where we are today, which wasn’t always fun. I am amazed as I look back over the years and see what we have accomplished and the lives that were touched through our little school. Here is a little play-by-play of the last several years here at Coastal Day School:

2006: We found a location!! In June we signed a lease for a 1200 sq. ft. unit on the second floor of Cross Creek Commons located along highway 17 in front of the Leland Walmart. Construction started and after a few months of hard work we opened for business on September 12th. At the time, we operated as Kids At Play Drop-In Child Care. We offered drop-in care and soon after we opened, we added preschool and after school care. Our first preschool class had 4 children. I was excited to be leading the way along with my two awesome employees!
2007: This year was pretty uneventful but good for Kids At Play!! This year we changed our name a little to Kids At Play Education Center as we began to put more focus on our preschool classes. This year our preschool grew to 12-15 students. Our drop-in business and staff were slowly growing as well.

2008: What a year. Not every year has been great and this was one of those years. We discovered this year that we could no longer offer drop-in care if we were going to offer full time care for our after school students when they were out of school. We had a tough decision to make and when you only have 15-20 preschool students and 10 after school students, it’s a BIG deal taking away half of your business. It was a tough year full of struggles and at many times, I wondered if we would survive as a small business. Thankfully, I have an amazing business partner that stuck with me through this hard time and helped keep me sane and the electric on! She’s truly a blessing in my life!!

2009: Time to move!! We secured our new location on Blackwell Road and began renovation. Let me tell you something, it took vision to see what it could become. We spent many long days (and well into the nights) scrubbing, sanitizing, and scraping to get our new facility to a place where we could finally paint and install flooring. For the month of December we lived on Mr. Frosty’s subs and Claritin Allergy medicine. We were operating on no sleep and stress levels were high, not to mention we were broke and trying to upfit a new space. Things were tough but somehow we pulled it off and were ready to open January 1st!
Here are a few "before" photos of our new location
This last one was our lobby. The front right door is now our Kindergarten room and the second door is to our library. We had to cut an opening on the back wall to gain access to the hallway. Crazy to see the difference!!

2010: As 2009 ended, the only way to go was up!! We opened in our new location on January 2nd and things finally started getting better. We spent this year working to improve our location adding a playground and security system. We grew a lot this year. As 2010 ended, it was nice to look back and see that all our stress and hard work paid off.

2011: This year was full of change. This is the year we decided that we would add Kindergarten in the near future, Miss Caroline transitioned into her new administrative role (this was hard for me in the beginning—first person ever to know the inside workings of our business and the first person I was able to give up a little control to), and decided we would change our name to Coastal Day School. We also built our awesome library this year. We added a few new staff members as well this year taking our total to 8 teachers, the most we ever had!! We were averaging around 40 preschool students and 12 after school students at this point.
Our awesome library
2012: My favorite year ever!! This is the year with the most growth ever, we added some amazing teachers, we officially changed our name, and I got to teach the most wonderful class of four year olds! This is also the year I learned to give up *almost* complete control to Caroline in the office to free myself to teach. We added our resource classes this year along with our reading pull-outs (ending the school year with 7 readers.) With our new name, we worked hard to add some coastal flair to our facility. We added our new lobby area and landscaping. Often times throughout this journey, I have felt unequipped and pretty much a failure. This year changed that for me. This is the year that all the pieces started falling into place and I stepped back and was amazed with what I saw. We were thriving. We had an AMAZING staff that I thanked God every day for. There was so much learning and laughing going on each and every day and I was so thrilled about it. I was loving my life and my job. I spent a day this year re-watching all our end of year DVD’s and my heart was so happy looking back at all the incredible families I had the honor of meeting and so many of those people will forever be part of my life. I felt like the luckiest person in the world that these parents allowed me to be part of their child’s life and trusted my staff and I to lead, guide, and teach their precious children. Have I mentioned I REALLY LOVE my job?!
My AMAZING class at our Halloween Party!!
Our new lobby

2013: And here we are, another amazing year to add to the books. With new families and teachers, and our very first Kindergarten class, we are getting ready to end another year full of learning, giggles, and fun! We are now averaging 65-70 preschool/kindergarten/MMO children and 20-25 after school children along with 11 teachers leading the way. I'm looking forward to our future plans of building a new facility and expanding our elementary grades! What a truly blessed person I am. I am forever grateful for all the moms and dads out there that stepped through our door and saw a place for their child to grow and learn.  I am touched each day by your encouraging words and support. Coastal Day School would never be what it is today without all of you and your faith in our program and in me. Thank you for helping me to become the teacher, leader, and person I am today. I love all of you and am thankful you all play a part in my story.

-Ashley (owner/program director)



Thursday, October 31, 2013

What's inside a pumpkin?

Teaching children is such a joy to me!  Even more than that, teaching two year olds is the most exciting thing to me! This is my first year teaching at Coastal Day School but I have had experience teaching two year olds before and when I was given the opportunity to teach this age group again, I was ecstatic!  It has been so exciting to already see the two year old class grow and learn new things.  I love that, what we as adults would think it is the simplest thing, they are so excited over.  The month of October we have been learning about the color orange and talking ALL about pumpkins.  We have talked about their shapes, texture, stems, and what is inside a pumpkin.  When we asked what was inside we got answers such as seeds, orange, water and even a few were convinced there was a pumpkin patch IN the pumpkin! I loved the creativity in children!   After we talked about and let the children play with the pumpkins we decided to cut into them.  They were finally able to see what was really in the pumpkin! After we gutted the pumpkin we created a sensory bucket of the seeds and “guts” for the children to be able to feel and play with it.  As an adult all I could think was “Ugh, this is gross,” or “Maybe I should just throw this out,” but as a teacher I HAD to let the children explore and I was so excited to watch them as they were learning.  I know this seems crazy to think that they were learning while they were just playing with the “guts” of the pumpkin but I was able to ask questions like “How does it feel?”  “What color is it?”  “What could you make with it?” “What do you think the seeds taste like?” After we asked all those questions they were able to actually taste the pumpkin seeds.  I toasted them and brought them back to school and with the AM snack I gave each of them an opportunity to taste them.  Of course they were a different texture so most of the children didn’t really care for them but I had a few that kept asking for more.  Most people probably would have no clue that so much learning could come from just a simple pumpkin but the children are beginning to learn the difference of bumpy or smooth,  tall or short, the color orange, and what a circle looks like.  As adults we have to remember that everything around us is a learning environment for children, we just have to let them learn and explore, even if that means getting the “guts” of the pumpkin all over us! J
-Shelley (Two Year Old Teacher)


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

I am the business, I am the client

When I started working at Coastal Day School, I was the Mommy’s Morning Out teacher and a mother of two boys, ages 4 and 1 ½.   My husband worked late afternoon into the evening, so while I was at work, he took care of our boys.  This was hard for me to leave my boys, but it was a great bonding experience for my husband with our boys. 
As other moms dropped off their children to me, I sympathized with them over how hard it is to leave your child and be able to walk away without worrying.  I made it my goal in that class to help every mom feel confident leaving their child and to take care of every child like I would want my own taken care of.  As a result, I really came to love the children in my care.  I had a regular group of mostly two year olds.  We worked on potty training, and taking turns with toys, learning how to put toys away, learning how to follow directions, art projects, and lots of play.  We had so much fun!
Two years later, my husband’s work schedule became normal 9-5 hours and we were thrilled to be expecting our third child.  As a result, I began working with Ashley in the office, training to take over all financial responsibilities.  My oldest headed off to Kindergarten and my younger son started attending Mommy’s Morning Out.  He had a difficult time adjusting, throwing tantrums, crying and screaming (Yes!  I have a screamer!).  The roles were suddenly reversed for me as I became the client.  I cannot even begin to say how grateful I am for this experience!  I saw such amazing growth and transformation as he received the same love and training that I had given my little group of kids.
My son went on to the four year old program and I worried if 5 days would be too much for him.  I remember Ashley saying to me, “Caroline, he needs this!  He will be fine.”  And she was so right.  I have never regretted sending him five days!  I watched my son learn so much so quickly!  I watched him transform socially overnight and become everyone’s friend.  I watched him loosen up and learn to dance at the Friday dance parties (one of my favorite things to watch!).  His experience left me feeling confident that he could go off to Kindergarten and be successful.  (He started Kindergarten this year and so far is doing great!)
Now my youngest is in Mommy’s Morning Out and she loves it!  And so do I!  Because I am an administrator as well as a parent at Coastal Day School, it gives me a unique perspective and has made me better at my job.  I really do understand what parents are going through especially some of those kids who have a harder time at first.  I get them!   I want every parent to walk out our doors knowing their child is being loved and taught by people who truly care about their children.  Because I work with these amazing women I know this is true.  I’m grateful for this because I’m a client too.
-Caroline (Financial Director and Mommy)
Caroline with her three sweet kiddos

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Preschool...the most magical years of life!!!!!

Preschool is an amazing place where magic happens. The teachers in a preschool are some of the most chipper, imaginative, and patient people you will meet. The students are more excited about learning than at any other age and parents are willing, loving, and interested in what is going on in class. Children learn so much and so fast at this age that it still amazes me after years of teaching preschoolers. Preschool years are the years children build their foundation and set their tone for learning. It is much easier to teach children a second or third language between the ages of 2 and 5 than it will be later. Preschoolers are willing to try anything to learn because they haven't learned humility or self-awareness yet and because of that, I believe, this is why they learn so quickly and easily. They aren't scared to make mistakes and jump back up and try again. 

With all of this said...my favorite part of each and every day is the "AH-HA" the "magical" moment that happens with every child multiple times a day. I love when they finally learn the words to the song that we have been singing that week or can repeat the sound a letter makes when you show them different letters. I love that when you are done with every lesson the children clap and yell YAY!!!!  I love how proud they are of themselves after they have learned how to use the potty and no longer need to wear diapers. Before your very eyes they are learning and new worlds are opened up to them. I wish we all still had such enthusiasm about overcoming the little things...think about how much happier the world would be!

Preschoolers see EVERYTHING differently and with a love for life and learning that truly seems to be magical! 
“Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.” – Carl Sagan
-Veronnica (Assistant Teacher in the two year old class)

Friday, October 11, 2013

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

As a child, I so looked forward to the last day of school so I could officially begin what was sure to be the BEST SUMMER EVER!!  And for the most part, each summer was even better than the last with vacations, pool days, and sleeping in. Well, things have changed. I have come to DREAD that last day of school along with the three months that follow. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good pool day and look forward to vacation each summer, but that first day back to school can’t come fast enough for me. I love everything about the first day of school! I love seeing all the kids’ smiling faces (and the parents as they’re about to have four quiet hours for the first time in three months J), I  love seeing my staff excited for what’s to come, I love my school year routine, but mostly, I just love the newness! EVERYTHING is new! New backpacks, lunch boxes, crayons, clothes, and even new friends in our classrooms. It’s new and exciting and I just LOVE it! I know I drive Caroline crazy as I count down the days until our students are walking in the very first day. I find myself standing in the lobby imagining everyone chatting as they drop their child off. It really is my favorite time of year!! Now that we are a month into our new school year, things are so fun around here. Classrooms are calm and quiet as learning is going on and our playground is full of playing and giggles. We already have a few students well on their way to reading and we are quite impressed with several students’ math skills. As I sit here writing this, I can hear our four year old class dancing and laughing as the teacher is saying “sometime you just have to rock out!” I really love everything about our little school and mostly, I love our students and their families. We are so blessed. I am already dreading that last day of school but also looking forward to the months of fun and learning leading up to it.
-Ashley (owner and program director)
This is a photo I took on the first day of school of our very
first Kindergarten class!! So exciting!