Nixa mom brings passion, dedication to early learning
After her first child was born, Susan Mellentine had a vision for how she could best prepare her daughter and other young minds for Kindergarten and beyond. Those aspirations grew throughout graduate school where the 36-year-old got a master’s degree in education and with the encouragement and support of her husband of 10 years, Chad, that dream was realized in September 2012 with The Adventures of Learning Early Childhood Education Center servicing Nixa and Springfield. The warm and nurturing environment Susan envisioned is now carried out by a highly committed and passionate staff who promotes physical, emotional, social and intellectual growth to create independence and lifelong learners.
What inspired you to open an early learning center?
Ever since we moved to Nixa seven years ago and I was taking my daughter to her school, I had this desire to create an environment that I was looking for as a mom. Not that she was going to a bad place; I just always felt that an early learning center could provide more. My husband and I talked about what we would do if we had our own place, but that seemed to be as far as it went. Once I earned my master’s degree in education, however, that is when my dreams became a reality. With my educational credits, I could be the owner and director of a facility. This made it possible for me to ensure that my vision of blending both what I wanted as a mom and a teacher for my child’s early education would be implemented.
What age groups do you take, and how do parents apply?
We care for infants (6 weeks) up to Pre-K. Our ultimate goal is getting your child ready for Kindergarten but there are a lot of milestones and development along the way.
I strongly encourage parents to come in and meet with me and tour our facility. It is important for parents to find the right fit in what they are looking for and asking the right questions to ensure that the program is one that matches their home environment.
Once a decision has been made and we have space available in the appropriate classroom, the paperwork and a $35 registration fee starts their child’s learning adventure! We do have a wait list, as well, if a spot is not immediately available.
What are questions you recommend parents ask when interviewing daycares?
Oh my! This can change for the individual needs of a child and his or her parents. A child might have special dietary needs and each parent has different priorities, so I encourage all parents to come with questions when touring a facility. Some good general questions to start with are:
What programs can you offer my child to enrich their growth and development?
How do you assess my child’s development?
What is your discipline technique?
How do you communicate with parents?
Do you have an open-door policy? Can I come and visit whenever I like?
What are your security/safety policies?
Are all your teachers first aid/CPR certified?
What type of meals/snacks do you serve? (ask to see a menu if possible)
Why should I bring my child to your center?
What is your favorite part of the job?
I LOVE children! The fact that I help my kids learn and grow is such a blessing. Not one day is the same, and I love the ability to make a difference. It’s such a hard decision for parents to leave their precious child in another’s care, and I take that responsibility very seriously. It’s an honor and privilege for a parent to instill their trust in myself and my teachers. We love them like our own, and that is the environment I wanted to create.
One specific highlight would have to be hearing all of our students going outside to play and their little voices cheering and giggling because they LOVE to play outside! There is nothing better than hearing a universal cheer from a class!
Being around kids all day, how do you unwind during your downtime?
The best downtime I could have is spending time and cuddling with my family! We like to watch movies or play a game. I just recently received a bike from my husband and look forward to bike rides with my kids, too!
Besides family time, I also enjoy listening to music and going to see musicals and shows, shopping with my daughter, doing anything outside, especially hiking, and unfortunately I have become addicted to Candy Crush!
What advice do you have for other moms starting a business?
It’s tough starting your own business, but it doesn’t feel like work when you’re passionate about what you’re doing. My biggest advice is to surround yourself with those that encourage and motivate you. It is hard work and it takes time; your support system will get you through, whether it’s helping pick up your child at school or painting a room! I couldn’t have done this without the support of my family and friends.
Also, don’t feel guilty if you aren’t spending as much time with your children—make the time that you do have count more with quality time! As a mom, you know exactly what I mean by this!
The Adventures of Learning Early Childhood Education Center
Address: 1911 Fitz Lane, Nixa