QISD child care center benefit for teachers, students

By Larry Tucker
Posted 8/6/20

The Quitman ISD enters into a new era for the upcoming school year. The district will begin offering a child care center for QISD teachers and staff. The Bulldog Early Learning Center will kick off its initial year later this month.

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QISD child care center benefit for teachers, students


The Quitman ISD enters into a new era for the upcoming school year. The district will begin offering a child care center for QISD teachers and staff. The Bulldog Early Learning Center will kick off its initial year later this month. 

The child care facility is housed at the former QISD administrative offices, which are now housed at their new site on Winnsboro Highway. The building is filled with cribs, high chairs, small beds and educational toys. There are different rooms for playing and learning and a huge outside area with two big yards fenced off for playground equipment which is on its way. One yard will be for the younger children and the other for toddlers and older.

The director of the new center is Dana Reynolds.

“I am so excited to have this new opportunity to be the Director for QISD’s new Child Care facility, the Bulldog Early Learning Center,” Reynolds said. “This will be an amazing opportunity and benefit for the teachers and staff of QISD.”

The renovations at the former administration building are nearing completion including two large fenced off sections outside for outdoor activities. Reynolds and Superintendent Rhonda Turner are expecting the outdoor playground equipment in the next few days.

Turner has had a vision for a facility of this nature for a few years.

“I have had employees and teachers specifically asking for onsite childcare for several years now,” she said. “It’s something I have been thinking about and reflecting on for a very, very long time. We had looked for a practical way to implement it and we just didn’t have a facility for it. As much as I wanted to make that happen for our employees, we were in the middle of other projects and we just didn’t have facility space for it.”

Turner said the opportunity came around last year when they were discussing changes within the district facility wise.

“Through that process, when we realized we were going to be able to finally get a facility for our school board and be able to move our school board room and our administration offices in one building,” Turner stated. “That would free up the house we were currently housed in. I put a survey out to our employees asking questions such as ‘would you utilize an employee child care center?’ and ‘would an employee child care center make you stay employed at QISD?’ and ‘how likely is it that you would choose Quitman ISD over another district if there was child care available?’. We had an overwhelmingly positive from that survey from parents who currently would utilize it. The bigger insight was from all the people who maybe didn’t have kids anymore who said this would have been such a blessing for me if my kids were little.”

Looking into the future Turner reflected, “As we move forward people would maybe choose the district over another district because we are able to provide this service. It lines up with our goals the school board has set forth for the district as well as it just was a good service to our employees.”

“My wife and I are excited for the new learning center,” said Joshua Wade, QHS teacher, coach and assistant athletic director. “We are blessed to live in a district that is creating this learning environment for our children. I believe this is just another thing that makes QISD great.” 

Although there will be a nominal charge to have children stay at the center, the effort is not about making any money.

“There is a cost, but it is the goal of center to just break even. We need the income, the revenue from the child care to pay for employees who run the child care center,” Turner noted. “One of the good things is, because we are not in it for profit at all, we are able to offer it at less cost than if they had to seek outside the district.”

“It will be part of the Ready, Set, Teach program,” Turner said. “The plan with that is I really want this to be a model center. I want this to be a place where our students come to learn about the proper way to implement childcare. We are going to have the ability that our students who are going through our child development program at QHS who are interested in early childhood education can enroll in our Ready, Set, Teach program and they can get their practicum experience at the Bulldog Early Learning Center.”

The superintendent is excited about the prospects. “When you can do something like this that benefits your employees and benefits your students that is truly a win-win,” Turner added. “We have to get kids interested in going into education.” 

Reynolds also owns Nannie’s Playhouse with her husband, Joe Wayne.

“We stayed open following CDC guidelines,” she said. “There were a lot of extra rules implemented and guidelines we had to follow, but we never did shut down. We will keep Nannie’s opened. The Bulldog Early Learning Center will stay open no matter what happens. If something does happen and we have to go virtual again, we still need to be there for the teachers so they can provide for their students. If you are trying to do a Zoom meeting and you have a two or three-year old running around arguing with a sibling, it would be difficult. Teachers already have enough on their plate anyway.

“We are here for the teachers and the staff. We want their input and we want them to feel like they have ownership in this. It is their center. Nannie’s is there for the public outside of the school,” Reynolds said. “We want to hear from them, we want to hear what they have to say about the program. ”

The center must adhere to state guidelines and can have only so many adults per so many children as well as all other rules.

“The older the children are, the more you can have per adult,” Reynolds said.

They are planning on having around 20-25 children in the program this year which will include a couple of newborns who have yet to arrive.

Turner’s hope for the center is for it to be a model other districts can emulate.

“We really want our program to be the best possible early child care center anywhere,” Turner said. “I’m hoping we are a model center. We are looking at accreditation down the road with the National Association for the Education of Young Children. That is something for us to work toward as a center. The accreditation will bring a lot of credibility to this center, and it will be good for students who are coming over for practicum.”

The center will open Aug. 10 as teachers and staff head back to work. Classes for all students begin Aug. 17.