August 13, 2009 10:38:00 AM
One summer while visiting friends in Flagler Beach, Fla., I was treated to the best seafood meal I had ever eaten. It was local gourmet, sort of like what you might see on Guy Fierri''s "Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives" on the Food Network. To this day I can''t recall having a feast topped in quality, presentation, taste and price.
The exterior of this restaurant is memorable because it looked like a dump. Why are they taking me here? I asked myself.
Looks usually are deceiving
The adage that you can''t judge a book by its cover certainly holds true for Valerie Sheffield''s child care center located on Tabernacle Road in New Hope. It looks like a private residence. It''s a moderately large two-story brick house with columns along the front porch, plenty of shade tress -- serene and inviting.
Tomorrow''s Pride Early Learning Center opened its doors in 1993.
"Yes, I began the business with a $500 anonymous donation and five cribs," said Sheffield.
At that time she and her husband had purchased the old Ellis home, which was roomy enough for raising a large family. Her sister-in-law had been the victim of a murder, leaving her children to be raised by Valerie and her husband.
Make lemonade with the lemons
To make a long story short, their plans did not work out, and they were sort of stuck with this large house. Research revealed that their new home was built in the 1800s, and was known as the Belle Plantation.
"We started out small," said Sheffield, "living in one room upstairs. With the unexpected twist in our plans to take care of Chris'' nieces and nephews, we had some decisions to make." They did not approach any of this without fervent prayer and faith.
That led to the opening of the nursery/day care center. Sheffield had purchased the five cribs, they had the space, and she felt that this was her calling. The rest is history.
Unique child care center
Tomorrow''s Pride is unique in several ways. First, and as previously mentioned, it does not look like a business. It looks like a private residence and functions as a home.
"We have our children grouped according to age," said Sheffield. "Infants are newborns up to about 10-12 months. At that time they become toddlers, and then toilet-trained about two years old, and then pre-K."
That does not mean that every child is pigeonholed. Individual variation is expected and appreciated.
"We are also different," said Sheffield, "in that we start signing with them as infants. These are very basic signs that help with communication. For our older children we use the Bright Beginnings curriculum. We use learning centers for inside play when the weather prevents us from going outside."
Tomorrow''s Pride has a playground, and the children are always monitored.
"We are licensed by the state and abide by all of the guidelines mandated by the state health department," said Sheffield.
"Oh, we are an open-door center," she added, "which means that we invite parents to visit our site any time during regular hours."
Some of the 12 staff members have been with Sheffield for more than 10 years. According to some day care directors, that is not common, and can be considered a good thing.
"Right now we have several openings for our after-school program," she emphasized.
"Children can relax after school, and get started on their homework, whatever the needs are for that particular child."
Prices for infants run $95 per month. Toddlers are $90, and toilet-trained children are $85. After-school runs $50.
"The upper age limit for the after-school program is 10. We serve our day care children breakfast, snacks, and a hot lunch. The after-school children receive a snack," said Sheffield.
Tomorrow''s Pride Early Learning Center is located at 925 Tabernacle Road in the New Hope community and their phone number is 662-328-4188. You may e-mail Valerie at [email protected]
John Dorroh is a semi-retired high school science teacher, who writes a business column for The Dispatch. E-mail John with your business news or column ideas at [email protected]
John Dorroh is a semi-retired high school science teacher, who writes a business column for The Dispatch.
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