SPOTLIGHT ON EAST ASHEVILLE: East Asheville Academy, by Linda Stanton
4 Beverly Rd.
Asheville, NC 28804
East Asheville Academy is a private child care and day care center right here in our neighborhood. Located in the heart of “downtown” Haw Creek, the center shares a building with Penny Cup Coffee and Creekside Tap House. The closing of Nurseryland Day Care (previously featured in this column), leaves EAA as only one of two community child care centers in Haw Creek, the other being the Haw Creek Elementary Head Start program.
The space had previously housed another day care center which came up for sale in 2007. This interested current owner Teresa Webb, who at the time had a small home-based day care center. She saw this opportunity to branch out and expand, knowing how much quality child care services are needed in the area. She had spent time as a child in the east Asheville Oakley neighborhood and was familiar with the area. On January 1, 2008, Teresa opened East Asheville Academy and the business is still going strong and growing.
Webb runs the business along with her daughter Jessica Shuford, RN, who acts as director. “This is really a family business” Webb tells us. Two of our teachers are mother daughter and two others are cousins. We have nine teachers in total, over half of whom have been here more than six years. This kind of longevity is not the norm in the industry. We have an excellent reputation and do no advertising, it is basically all word of mouth. Our current waiting list is up to a year. Jessica proudly explained that “three of the infants we currently care for have been on the waiting list since the parents found out they were expecting!”
The center is licensed for 45 children total, divided into three classrooms by age group: infants age 6 weeks to 2 years, toddlers 2 to 3 years and preschool age 3 to 5 or 6 years, depending on when they start kindergarten. East Asheville Academy practices what is called “volunteer enhanced ratios” for staffing which means less children per teacher. This allows more one on one-time, better care in general and usually less stress for the teachers.
Lead teachers have child care credentials through a college, usually a one semester program which includes skills such child development and psychology, teaching and lesson planning. There is a 90 day on the job training program for teachers and they all receive 20 hours of annual continuing education. The staff has CPR and First Aid as well as emergency response training.
A typical day starts with teachers coming in at 7:30 am. The kids get dropped off between 7:30 and 9:30 depending on each family’s schedule. “We don’t take them past 9:30 though because it gets disruptive once the lessons start,” Jessica explains. They serve breakfast, lunch and a snack during the day. There is outside time for play and science lessons. Circle and group time, readings and songs, nap time and other age-appropriate activities round out the day. Pick up is by 5:30 pm.
Often there is a theme for the week such as baby animals and they’ll get to see things like hatching eggs and bring pictures of animals. When the child leaves here for kindergarten we work to get them “school ready,” which means they know letters, can write their name, count to 30 and are socially able to work with other children in a group, although these goals change through the years as research changes.
“We do have some children with special needs at times. If we recognize a need, delay or problem with development, we’ll discuss this with the parents and can refer to a speech or occupational therapist for evaluation,” Shuford explains. EAA works to go the extra mile for the children and parents appreciate that. It is not a large center, but it is as homey as we can make it. We know all the families by name and keep parents involved with what is going on.
EAA is in the process of renovating a previously empty space between their center and the coffee shop into a new class room. This will allow for more differentiation with activities in the toddler group and give everyone more room to spread out. This is important because there are more child care centers that are just preschools which creates a greater need for the baby and toddler groups. They plan for this new classroom to be open by December. Their license numbers for enrollment will increase with the new classroom but those spaces are already filled.
Webb and Shuford feel the majority of child care centers in this area are safe and well run. Generally, though the child care need is not fully being met in our region. This deficit is attributed a boom in population and some centers closing because of various issues. Funding has become more available for income-based subsidy vouchers in the last 2 – 3 years but it’s still not enough.
It helps that there are home day care centers, licensed for up to six children. The atmosphere in these centers is typically more informal but they still need to meet many similar requirements for safety and health factors. For some children this type of environment in a home-based center may be a better option. The important thing is that the state licensing requirements are met and the children are treated with care and concern.
East Asheville Academy is a precious resource in our community. When asked what sets them apart from others Teresa jumped in, “we are very picky about who we hire. We’re a close-knit group. The people who work here have a passion for teaching the kids. We treat them as if they are our own.”
Contact East Asheville Academy at-
For more information about child care center licensure go to NCChildCareSearch.dhhs.state.nc.us