An African Proverb says, “It takes a whole village to raise a child.” Choosing a childcare center is like choosing your village. You check out several places, and think, “Am I really handing over my most precious gift to these people? Can I trust them to raise her the way I would?” It is the hardest part of being a working parent. John and I have chosen the Mission Grove KinderCare to be part of our village for five years now. We have been in every room in the building (I have probably cried in every room in the building, too. Tears of joy, as well as others). We started in the Infant room with an amazing group of women: Ms. Ann, Ms. Lisette, Ms. Jennifer, and Ms. Michelle. Ms. Ann has a way of touching your heart forever. Even though she is no longer there, her influence is very strong. She would pick up the babies and give them each a nickname. She would wrap her arm around mom, give her a hug, and tell her everything’s okay. I watched and listened as she trained me and many other mothers in parenting. She has a heart of gold, and she loved the babies. She never even made you feel stupid for the things you worried about. She knows what it’s like to be a worrying mother. Ms. Lisette was doing my daughter’s hair even before I realized she had enough to put into pony tails. There was always laughter and smiles in the infant room. Sunshine wasn’t just painted on the walls, it was pouring out from the teachers. Our daughter finally stopped scooting and started walking, so she moved on to the Toddler Room. We were amazed at how much she was learning! With two parents as teachers, we thought we pushed her; but she was learning things we hadn’t even imagined teaching her yet. She continued to blossom every day. It seemed like she quickly progressed to the Two year old room. There was turnover in staff that year. We almost left KinderCare because of it. We prayed about what to do. We considered other childcare facilities. Answers weren’t coming fast enough for us. Then, we were blessed with Ms. Jessica and Ms. Kathy. What an amazing team! Suddenly, our daughter didn’t want to go home when we picked her up. She wanted to stay and play. I knew that this was good. It meant that she loved being there. We moved on to the stable team of Ms. Dorrie and Ms. Trina. The structure of the day in the Three year old room was craved by our girl. It was exactly what was needed for three-year-olds. After she stopped having accidents and found that she loved Ms. Dorrie and Ms. Trina just as much, she continued to grow and learn and become more responsible (if you can call a three-year-old responsible). She loved role playing, painting, building, and learning about the world. Best of all, she loved her teachers. She still wants to be an artist like Ms. Dorrie. When we started in Prekindergarten, Ms. Janice and Ms. Genie were the dynamic duo. She loved them so much that she started to believe that they knew more than mom and dad (how could that be?). They gave us homework to do with her (and we gave them nicknames for giving us homework). Together, they helped the children grow academically as well as emotionally and imaginatively. It was the perfect combination for a growing child. Then, Ms. Genie went away. I gave Ms. Heather that look. I asked how long it would take to replace her. Could she really be replaced? I wanted reassurance that the children would have consistency. I wanted to know that we weren’t going to go through the same rollercoaster we went through with the Toddler room and the Two year old room. Was my child driving these teachers away? Soon, Ms. Amanda came along in her cheerful way and filled the void. Our daughter loved her right away, too. Now Sophia wanted fingernails like Ms. Janice and eye shadow like Ms. Amanda. What happened next in Prekindergarten blows my mind away. The amount of learning and growing in every sense of the word that happened in that classroom is magical. Ms. Janice and Ms. Amanda took the foundation that had been built by all the previous teachers and brought it all together into a whole package. They turned my baby into a child ready for the world (and public school). They taught her to use her words, to solve problems, to be a good friend, as well as to read, count, and explore the world. They taught her self-respect and to respect others. These are all skills she will need throughout her lifetime. As a teacher myself, I have watched children grow and learn; but this was incredible to witness—and my child was benefitting from this! When our daughter started Kindergarten this year, we thought about cheaper after-school care. However, we knew that public school was going to rock her world, and we wanted comfort and consistency for her. KinderCare provides that. She was so excited to ride the bus! She told me that Ms. Trina is a crazier driver than I am (could it be true?). We have been grateful that Ms. Trina is driving the bus—a teacher who our girl knows, trusts, and loves. She has loved being in Ms. Tabitha’s class and Ms. Juanita’s after school. She learned to jump rope this year after her collarbone healed. We love that! She has lots of friends that are at both KinderCare and Franklin. She has been putting all of her knowledge into action, but it sure has been hard to get used to this time without a nap (not that she ever slept). We called the dinner hour “unhappy hour” because there was always whining and complaining. It took all of us a while to get used to this new schedule. Now Ms. Tabitha and Ms. Patti are regular parts of our daily talks, and we still see Ms. Juanita now and then. We are all adjusting. Yes, we have been in every room at the Mission Grove KinderCare. We have had good days and bad days. We have seen some of the teachers come and go as they build careers or finish careers. We have seen that some of the teachers stay, and stay, and stay. We are grateful for those that stay, and we miss those who have gone on. There are new faces in some of the rooms that I don’t know personally. I believe that God has brought our family to KinderCare for a reason. We have been very fortunate with the teachers in each classroom. They have touched our hearts in a variety of ways, and they’ve left their handprints on our daughter’s education. They smile and keep going to keep up with their students. Children know how much energy and patience you have, and they try to use it all up, but you don’t let it get you down. It does take a village. Each one of you offers your own flavor and spice to give the variety that our children need. It’s not always easy raising other people’s children. Parents have expectations that they don’t always communicate. You have expectations that parents don’t always understand. Together, parents and teachers create a village that raises the next generation. Thank you for being part of our village.