New day care offers full day of learning

A new state-licensed day care facility recently opened in Chewelah to offer pre-school children a chance for a full day of learning year-round.

Happy Trails Learning Center and Child Care, LLC opened on March 12 as a full-time day care that emphasizes education. Manager Fran Jenne said she opened the new facility because she saw a need for working parents looking for all day care even in the summer. She said they are not in competition with other preschool or day cares, but act as more of a complement to what they already offer in Chewelah on a part-time basis.

The learning center is open all year from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and is licensed for 20 full-time children ages 2 and a half to five years old.

Lead Teacher and Director Candy Kristovich said although the hours are long, they provide a fully structured day that focuses on child-directed hands-on, exploratory learning.

Kristovich, who is certified to teach preschool through eighth grade, creates the days’ lessons around specific topics that they learn about through activities like reading, making food and playing. She also asks many questions throughout the process to help prepare them for kindergarten.

“If kids are critical thinkers they will do well in school,” Kristovich said.

She teaches the Zoo-Phonics curriculum, which she said is an interactive way of learning to read by focusing on letter sounds.

During the day, they provide a breakfast, lunch, a mid morning and mid afternoon snack. Kristovich said she prepares the food family-style and does not use processed foods. Once enrollment grows, they will have two part-time cooks, as well as teacher aids and a nurse.

Jenne said the mission of Happy Trails is to “assist parents on getting kids on the happy trail of life.” The name is based off the song of the same name by Dale Evans Rogers.

Jenne grew up with role models like Roy Rogers and Dale Evans Rogers, so when they learned that the values of the Roy Rogers Riders Club reflect their own values for the learning center, “it really resonated with us,” she said.

Those values include being neat and clean, courteous and polite, listening to your parents and being kind to animals.

Happy Trails is currently building enrollment, and since the center is not based on a semester timeline, parents can apply anytime. Right now they are willing to take children that need part time care, but Jenne said they will give full-time applicants priority. There are no eligibility requirements to enroll.

They charge $3.50 per hour for each child, which Jenne said is a competitive rate for any day care. They can also work with state financial assistance.

Happy Trails is located at 1101 W. Lincoln, which was a former veterinary office until 2009. With the help of a friend with contracting experience, Jenne started a full interior renovation of the building in October 2011. They now have full kitchen, bathroom with kid-sized fixtures, and a large classroom for kids to learn, play and eat.

Jenne works in Chewelah at HUB International, formerly AIA Insurance. She grew up in the community and said she always wanted to find a way to give back and do something for families and kids.

Kristovich taught at the Head Start program in Wellpinit before joining Happy Trails, and has worked in a variety of other teaching settings.

“Kids are little sponges,” Kristovich said. “I love to help them through that learning process.”

For more information, or to enroll your child at Happy Trails, call 509-935-0123.

By Kellie Trudeau

The Independent Staff