A new preschool will open in the Hill City next year and will have room for about 70 new students from six weeks to five years old.
Anthony Andrews, the school’s director and owner, will open Teachable Moments Preschool in August 2023 at a 6,400-square-foot building across the street from the Lynchburg General Hospital at 1915 Thomson Drive.
Andrews said there are no child care centers in that health care district, making it a child care desert.
“My target audience is mainly health care workers, essential workers, like dentists, doctors, nurses, custodians, anybody that needs child care who works primarily in that location,” he said. “It makes it convenient for them to go to work. They can come and drop their child off, feel like they’re in good hands and then they can go to work and have a peace of mind.”
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Andrews said, according to childcaredeserts.org, despite early education opportunities being so prevalent, there still are challenges the area faces, such as a year-long waiting list for infants, 42% of children under age 5 living in child care deserts and there being 10 kids for every licensed child care spot in certain areas of Lynchburg.
He said he believes investing in early childhood education has tremendous value in terms of kindergarten readiness, improved reading levels, improved graduation rates, reducing achievement gaps, and improving social and emotional skills.
Andrews serves on the Lynchburg School Board, is a city firefighter, was a teacher for six years at Elizabeth’s Early Learning Center and was the assistant director of Peakland Preschool for two years.
“I’m huge on curriculum. I’m huge on participation from families and parents. I’m huge on having expectations from my team, from my staff, and I want them to be able to pour into kids not only with love but with resources, enrichment, education and try to get them to transition to elementary school,” he said.
The building will undergo some renovations. In the meantime and Andrews hopes to make it a warm and inviting space for teachers, parents and children. He hopes to hire between 12 and 14 teachers initially, as well as a chef and assistant director.
His goal is to have the center accredited within the first year by the National Association for the Education of Young Children.
“All of our teachers will have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education or some type of related educational field,” Andrews said. “They all come with at least four years of experience in early childhood education. We’re definitely going to have healthy nutritious meals that are cooked and prepared on site, so we’ll be providing breakfast, lunch and afternoon snacks and will be open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.”
The website, tmpreschool.com, will offer more information and forms.
The preschool also will offer a parent app allowing guardians to check in on their children through cameras and communication with teachers.
Andrews said Teachable Moments will be affordable and comparable to any other high-quality child care center in the area.
It also will be a subsidy vendor through the Department of Education so families who typically can’t afford tuition will have opportunities to apply for a subsidy.
All the meals, care, education and field trips are included in tuition.
Ashley Graham, director of Family and Children’s Services at HumanKind, said she knows how difficult it is to find a suitable property to provide child care services.
“Anthony is a well‐respected community leader who has spent three years searching for a property to open Teachable Moments Preschool,” she said.
She said the school will have a significant impact on Lynchburg’s child care desert, adding spots for 73 more infants, toddlers, and preschoolers to receive high-quality early childhood care and education.
HumanKind recently opened a childcare center at 1200 Fenwick Dr. to add 48 spots for infants and toddlers to receive care in the community.
“By working collaboratively with Anthony, HumanKind’s children will be able to transition to preschool at Teachable Moments when they turn three years of age. Additionally, Teachable Moments Preschool will be conveniently located in Lynchburg’s healthcare district adjacent to Lynchburg General Hospital,” she said. “The pandemic demonstrated that access to safe, reliable, high quality child care is critical to Centra’s essential healthcare workforce.”
The Thomson Drive building formerly was home to the Blue Ridge Pregnancy Center. Susan Campbell, the pregnancy center’s executive director, said she is glad to hear about Andrews’ project.
“We are thrilled to think a little life that we may have saved through our nonprofit crisis pregnancy center could potentially have a little toddler running around in his new organization,” she said.
Andrews said people have been taking care of caring for children since the beginning of time but thinks now people better understand the importance of a high-quality early childhood education.
“Especially when we talk about longevity achievement gap, having kids go into elementary school, reading on grade level, not performing in mathematics properly, those things play a huge role in preparing kids for further in life,” he said. “So how do we get over that hurdle? Well, we need to do more reinvestment back into early childhood education.”
He said between birth and five years of age, children are absorbing so much information and their brains need to be enriched.
“Brain development is a huge thing. There’s so much data out there that talks about brain development and if we can get kids to be proponents of literacy, using critical thinking skills, developing their fine and gross motor skills, that helps them transition to kindergarten, first grade, second grade and they are performing a whole lot better than just having them sit in front of a tablet or TV all day,” he said.