$3.5 million child care center opening in Winston-Salem

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Photo credit: David Rolfe/Winston-Salem Journal

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — MudPies Downtown East has been a project in the making from the ground up for 3½ years and now is ready to open its doors.

The $3.5 million child care center is on Seventh Street, beside Goler Memorial A.M.E. Zion Church. It is 16,800 square feet and will be parent company Northwest Childcare Development Centers’ sixth child care center.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony is Friday from noon to 2 p.m.

MudPies Downtown East is the largest childcare center in Forsyth County and one of the largest in North Carolina, said Tony Burton III, the chief executive of Northwest Child Development Centers, a nonprofit group.

“One of the things we pride ourselves in is being able to provide high-quality opportunities, looking at the equipment that we use, the technology that’s available in the centers, the convenience of the location, the educational level of our teachers,” Burton said. “All of our lead teachers will have a four-year degree.”

The center will be able to provide child care for 243 students from infants to age 5 on first and second shifts, with a total licensed capacity of 486 students on two shifts. The center also will provide before- and after-school programs for ages 5 through 12.

Technology is a major focus at the center. Devices include computers, mobile tablets and an interactive whiteboard for students, starting at age 2. All classrooms have multimedia capabilities for teachers to receive information instantly.

The center uses several Hatch iStartSmart technology products that are designed to increase school readiness skills.

Northwest Child Development Centers began a partnership with Hatch, which is based in Winston-Salem, several years ago.

Matt Ankerson, human resource director for Hatch, said that the new center has “one of the most technology-enriched programs in the country.”

April Gamble of Winston-Salem recently toured the center with her mother, Belvia, her father, Samuel, and her 1-year-old granddaughter, London.

“It really looks nice,” said Gamble, a fifth-grade teacher at Ashley IB Magnet School in Winston-Salem. “I think that what they have put together is going to be really good for the community as well as for the program of Northwest Child Development.”

Gamble is interested in the program for London. She especially likes the technology, extracurricular activities and the fact that the lead teachers have four-year degrees.

Other amenities in the center include a training room that will be used to provide technology training for the nonprofit’s staff, teachers from other child care facilities, and first-year teachers who are about to graduate from colleges.

The center’s playground is divided into three sections, depending on the age of children, and there are plans for a nearby garden. The center has a full commercial kitchen that will provide food for all of Northwest Child Development Centers’ locations. It also has a community conference room that will be available free to small groups.

Burton said that Northwest Child Development Centers built downtown because of all the development in the area, including Wake Forest Innovation Quarter and Wake Forest Biotech Place. He said that families already are living downtown and more lofts and apartments are under development.

“Here is something we can do to help with our city’s motto — work, live and play,” he said. “We can provide for the children right here in the downtown community.”

Credit: Winston-Salem Journal

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