MILLEDGEVILLE — Milledgeville native Kim Renfroe always had a love for teaching and children. Renfroe and her husband Steve have not only seen student enrollment on the rise at Learning Safari since its opening in February 1997, but also have received much success and recognition as the “Program of the Year” for the state of Georgia.
“I’m so proud of our staff and everything we’ve accomplished over the last few years,” Renfroe said. “I appreciate their passion for what they do each and everyday. Every staff member here has worked equally to make this happen.”
The “Program of the Year” award is given by the Georgia Association on Young Children (GAYC). An awards committee consisting of 10 members from varied early childhood-related professions in diverse regions throughout the state cast their votes to determine the recipient of the award. In order to be considered for the award, the childcare center has to show evidence of professional collaboration within the facility, demonstrate that the program strives to improve and provide the highest quality child care possible, and program has made significant and innovative contribution to the welfare of children in addition to a full review of licensing inspection reports. Learning Safari received the award at the GAYC Awards Banquet earlier this month.
“We are so excited to celebrate such an accomplishment and couldn’t be happier to be providing the best quality care to our children,” Renfroe said. “This means continued growth, and that we care for each and every child in our center.”
Learning Safari accepts children between the ages of 6 weeks and 12 years old. Transportation is also available from selected public and private schools. A classroom waiting list is available in the event that no spaces are left.
“Pre-K is lottery funded and everything else is tuition-based that parents are responsible for,” Kim said. “Although the economy has affected all businesses, small and large, our enrollment continues to increase each and every month.”
Since opening the main building in 1997, Renfroe said the need to expand was critical due to the tremendous growth and long waiting list. Two years later, a second building was built next door to house pre-K through school-age children with a separate entrance to the newborn care facility.
“Before we expanded, we had about 176 students. We did an open house about two weeks before opening the facility, and from the day we opened we had a two- to three-year waiting list. The expansion helped us take in another 150 children,” Renfroe said. “What’s unique is our basement area in the second building, which has one-foot thick poured concrete walls and is reinforced with steel beams. This area serves as a storm shelter for us. Parents can get piece of mind to know their child is safe even when they’re not there to protect them.”
Learning Safari received a Level 3 Quality rating by the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL) — the highest obtainable rating. The local childcare facility also earned National Early Childhood Program Accreditation in August 2012 by the National Accreditation Commission.
“I have children that attended here who now have their children attend here or are now employed here. It’s nice to have multiple generations in one family attend our center. Most of the lead teachers have been with me a minimum of 10 years,” Renfroe said. “The primary objective of our school is to help every child develop a positive attitude toward themselves and everything associated with learning. We want to help build a creative foundation for a lifetime of learning within each child.”
Located at 55 Marshall Road near Old Clinton Bar-B-Q, Learning Safari is open from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
For more information about the childcare facility, call 478-452-0555, or visit www.learningsafari.net.
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