Rising Stars Preschool: Ready to shineThe walls of Laura Mitchell’s new preschool are a sunny yellow. The shelves have colorful labels identifying spots for glue sticks and finger paints. The rest of the room, well, that’s kind of a work in progress. There are shelves that need assembling, toys that need organizing and an outdoor play area that looks a little lonely with just one small item for kids to play with.
By: Nathan Hansen, The Farmington Independent
The walls of Laura Mitchell’s new preschool are a sunny yellow. The shelves have colorful labels identifying spots for glue sticks and finger paints. The rest of the room, well, that’s kind of a work in progress.
There are shelves that need assembling, toys that need organizing and an outdoor play area that looks a little lonely with just one small item for kids to play with.
Mitchell is in the process of building Rising Stars Preschool in a space at 115 Elm Street. When the facility opens in early August it will be the culmination of an idea that began when Mitchell was looking for a preschool for her own son and kicked into high gear last November when she was laid off after 16 years in the travel planning industry.
Mitchell expects Rising Stars to be the kind of place she couldn’t find for her son — homey and comfortable but with a well-defined curriculum.
The trouble she had finding that kind of school inspired Mitchell to go back to school to study business management and early-childhood education. She was already making plans to open her own preschool last year, but when she was laid off she figured it was time to get serious.
Rising Stars, located at 115 Elm Street, will be small. Mitchell will be licensed to accept 20 children ages 33 months to kindergarten. Mitchell plans to hire one other teacher and said she’s already gotten a number of good applications. Rising Stars will be open from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. five days a week and at least one Saturday every month for parents who need someone to watch the kids while they run errands.
As a single mother, owning the preschool will also give Mitchell the chance to spend the day with her own son.
Meals at the preschool will be catered and served family-style so kids can practice setting the table and passing food to their classmates.
“I think they can carry that into their family life as well as school life,” Mitchell said.
The curriculum Mitchell designed is full of opportunities for kids to learn lessons without realizing they’re being taught. She sees opportunities for that kind of teaching all around. With EconoFoods just across the parking lot and a weekly farmer’s market just a few blocks away she imagines field trips to check out fresh produce and learn about how it grows.
“They might think they’re just playing, but at the end of the day they’ve learned something,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell’s vision for Rising Stars is coming together quickly now. She’s got colorful bulletin boards on the walls — “I’m kind of crazy about bulletin boards,” she said — and she hopes to have the space 90 percent done by the end of the weekend in preparation for a planned open house July 24. She said she’s already gotten some inquiries from parents interested in Rising Stars.
It’s been a lot of work getting to this point, but Mitchell is excited. After 16 years spent planning travel packages for Fortune 500 companies, she’s ready for a more casual workplace.
“I can’t wait to get away from that corporate world and say when I go to work I get to sit on the floor and play,” Mitchell said.