Sisters Ginger Olson and Amy Steiner have always dreamed of opening a child care center together.
Their dreams became reality about a month ago when Compass Child Care opened its doors at 2853 Northdale Blvd., Coon Rapids.
Both women have worked in early learning settings for many years. Most recently, Olson served as the early childhood director at Emmanuel Christian Center in Spring Lake Park, and Steiner spent a decade working at another child care center in downtown Minneapolis, first as a preschool teacher and later in a management position.
As teachers, Olson loved conducting science experiments with little ones, but dreaded art. Steiner was the opposite – absorbed by art and less enthralled with science.
It is not common practice for early childhood educators to specialize in a particular subject area, but what if that were true, the sisters wondered. Wouldn’t teachers be more engaged and students likewise?
Compass does things differently, allowing preschoolers to rotate between four classrooms, each with a different teacher, to receive instruction: art and fine motor skills; dramatic play and sensory and social skills; music and movement; and science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
An aide accompanies students to each classroom so that there is always a familiar face around.
The sisters aren’t aware of any other child care center that runs the same way, nor was the school’s licensor, according to Steiner.
Compass has additional rooms for infants and toddlers, as well as transition space for students in the 13- to 22-month range, no longer babies, but not quite toddlers either.
They, too, are exposed to age-appropriate curriculum.
Currently, Compass staff watches over 20 children. The center has capacity for 116 children. “We’re slowly growing and adding children at a great pace,” Steiner said.
And long term, Olson and Steiner would like to open multiple sites in the metro.
They looked at several buildings before deciding on their Coon Rapids site.
“We’re very fond of the area,” Steiner said, adding that the sisters themselves attended an in-home day care in Coon Rapids when they were younger.
The location near Riverdale Station made a great deal of sense to them, and “we fell in love instantly with the windows,” Steiner said. Natural light floods the center, which takes up a 6300 square feet in the strip mall at the corner of Northdale and Crooked Lake boulevards.
The space was not move-in ready; walls had to be built to provide separate play spaces for the different age groups.
And the fenced-in outside play space is still an area the sisters would like to see enhanced, transformed, really, into an outdoor classroom.
Though Olson and Steiner were cautioned many times about going into business with one’s sibling, so far so good, they both agree.
“Our passions align so strongly that it has been very easy to work together,” Steiner said.
They share a passion for not only young children, but also “a love for the early childhood teacher,” who often does not get enough credit, Olson said. “The foundations that we’re building in early childhood go forever.”
Turnover is very high across the industry, and Compass hopes to change that.
“We have every intention of supporting our staff with time and money,” Steiner said. “Happy staff make happy kids.”
Currently, seven are employed, not including the two owners.
Parents can enroll their children part time or full time.
“We want kiddos to be at home as much as mom and dad can make happen,” Steiner said.
Infant care costs $285 per week or $75 daily; Toddler care is $245 a week, $65 daily; and preschool runs $215 each week or $55 per day.
The center is open to children from 6 weeks to 5 years, year-round Monday through Friday from 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Compass closes on major holidays.
Compass Child Care is currently enrolling toddlers and preschool students.
For more information, visit www.compassearlylearningmn.com.
Original Article can be found here