Saturday, June 21, 2014

The Spotted Zebra

I going to bury the lead here and start with some history. After my wife's maternity leave was up, the kids went to a daycare center. As my oldest left the pre-k and headed off to kindergarten, we weren't as happy with the center as we were two years earlier. We found The Spotted Zebra and really liked the space and the staff seemed great. It's an integrated program meaning special needs kids and kids without special needs were in the same classroom. And I'm going to be honest, I had some concerns that this was a bad idea. Would my daughter be on track for kindergarten when she left? I was assured by her lead teacher that she would be ready to go in the fall, and she was clearly ready for school when she left. But it's not just that The Spotted Zebra got her ready for school, they were fantastic.

Let me give you an example. My daughter went through an "I hate sunscreen" phase. She's a fair skinned redhead. She needs sunscreen. Since everybody brings in sunscreen for their kids, the teachers basically had some of every brand/type of sunscreen on the market. They set up kind of a sunscreen "tasting"for her and determined the brand of sunscreen that was the least offensive to her. That's the level of care The Spotted Zebra staff has for the kids they have been entrusted to teach. My daughter's time there was great and if you ask her what she wants to be when she grows up, there's a 90% chance she'll tell you she wants to be a special needs teacher. Probably not the most common answer you get from an 8 year old.

Onto the actual story: The Spotted Zebra just got bigger, moved to a new location and invited everyone with a connection to the school to the Grand Opening yesterday. It was a very nice opening complete with touching speeches and a very cute ribbon ribbon cutting which involved lots of kids and safety scissors.

The new space is huge compared to the old space. Plus, they've added a Bizzy Beez center which looks like it will be very well used. They've got a balance skills surfboard, new tactile centers, a wall with lit targets to hit with balls, a very cool exercise bike...

They also have a something that I could only describe as a calming room. If a kid is all worked up and needs to be away from it all for a few minutes, there's padded seats and lots of calming lights that are just relaxing. Here's me and Casey lying down on a a mat looking up at the lights and our reflection.

To me, the biggest "tell" if something isn't quite right in a child care center is staff turnover. At the center we left, the director had changed a few times in a few years and staff seemed to be leaving and getting replaced fairly frequently. My daughter left The Spotted Zebra 3 years ago to go to kindergarten and I was surprised how many faces I remembered.

So if you have a kid that needs a little extra attention or you are interested in an integrated program, you might want to check The Spotted Zebra out. Their new location is on Computer Drive East off of Wolf Road. The old school was a special place. The new school will be too.

Here's a link to their website.

And a confession: About 5 minutes after the doors opened, I dropped a cracker covered with artichoke dip on the floor. I cleaned it up pretty well, but I think I may have been the first person to spill something in the new school.

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