Learning center and preschool opens in LeRoy

LEROY — Children too young for kindergarten have a new place to learn after an independent preschool opened last week in LeRoy. Directed by former elementary teacher Henrietta DuBreuil, the Rooted to Grow Learning Center is a tution-based preschool and daycare for children from 33 months to five years old. The center offers play time as well as a scheduled curriculum with art, reading, science, math, regular library visits and outdoor exercise with lessons from two certified teachers. DuBreuil, who previously taught in an elementary school in the Upper Peninsula, opened the school after hearing of the need for another preschool in the LeRoy area. “There was a need for quality preschool programs in the area,” said Pine River superintendent Jim Ganger. “We had one already — Grandma’s House Child Care in Tustin — and Becky Miller (owner of Grandma’s House Child Care) does a great job, but she is at her cap (in attendance). We had a number of parents in the district who didn’t have anywhere to put their kids.” Another reason for the need was because some families don’t meet the requirements necessary for government-funded preschools. In order to enroll students in the NEMCSA or head start programs in LeRoy, families must meet income or need-based requirements. “Some children just don’t happen to qualify for those, and that’s where the tuition-based program comes into play,” said DuBreuil, who lives in Paris. “If they don’t qualify, for whatever reason, or there’s not an opening, this is another option.” Located in the basement of the LeRoy United Methodist Church, at 402 West Gilbert St. in LeRoy, DuBreuil worked hard to get the space ready for the school’s opening on Nov. 5. She painted the walls and bookshelves and purchased tables and learning material for students. The school is open from 7:45 a.m. to 3:15 p.m., with an after-school program running until 5:45 for students up to sixth grade. “Some parents need somewhere for their children to go after school,” DuBreuil said. “When they come, they get a snack because most kids are hungry right after school, then we have a time they can do homework. Then we’ll have outdoor time so they can get out and run around. Especially with winter coming, the daylight hours are usually when their parents are working so by the time they get home.” In an effort to prepare preschool students similarly, the learning center provides the same curriculum as the Pine River School District’s head start program. “What we’re trying to do is hook our independent preschools and our Head Start agency with curriculum and practices and include them with ISD programs and training. It’s a nice joint venture,” Ganger said. “We’re trying to provide a common experience, whether that kid goes to Grandma’s (House Child Care), headstart, or Henrietta’s preschool. That way when we get them as kindergartners, they’ll have had the same teaching.” With a wide variety of elementary experience, DuBreuil uses her knowledge to help children grow developmentally. Based on what level they are at when they come to the center, she will work with each student differently to ensure they are ready for kindergarten when they leave. “We have children at all different levels of learning. We have some who are 2-years-old and know their colors, and a four-year-old who doesn’t know any colors,” DeBrueil said. “So we do individual lessons. They might all be working on a similar skill, but depending on what they’re capable of doing, we’ll have them on different levels.” In the first week of operation, the Rooted to Grow Learning Center enrolled six children. The maximum capacity of the school is 20 students, for a 10 to one student to teacher ratio. “We anticipate it to grow once word gets out,” Ganger said. “I think that Henrietta will do a great job.” The center follows the same schedule as Pine River Public Schools, and will be closed when the district is closed due to inclement weather. The curriculum also includes Bible teachings, and children pray at meal times, though the lesson plans will be respectful of each family’s personal beliefs. DuBreuil plans to host a Christmas pageant with the children for the church members. “The church has been wonderful and It’s exciting to be in this area,” DuBreuil said. The Rooted to Grow Learning Center will accept new students until it reaches capacity. For more information, or to apply for the school, call the learning center at (231) 768-5155.