Alpha Time Too Daycare expands, holds open house
By BRITTANY FHOLER
Alpha Time Too has expanded to a second location on Hawk Trail, in the location of the former Turkey Creek Junior Academy.
On Friday, they held an Open House for parents to come and see the new facility, with a bounce house obstacle course, hot dogs and more.
The second location is known as the Alpha Time Early Learning Center and has been officially open since July 6 of this year.
Sadie Clark, the lead infant teacher at the Alpha Early Learning Center, waited at the front entrance and greeted the parents and children as they came in Friday evening, recognizing some of the children who she used to take care of who had aged up to a n6ew age group.
Clark said that she loves working at Alpha Time Too and now the Alpha Early Learning Center.
“If I won the lotto, I would still work here,” Clark said.
Clark said she enjoys getting to help take care of and shape the minds of the future.
“That’s my mission, is to make babies happy and meet their needs right away. They know that they’re important,” Clark said.
Clark that she has already retired from a job she didn’t like.
“I will do something if it’s interesting and not fun. I will do something if it’s fun and not interesting. I will especially do something if it’s fun and interesting, but if it’s not fun and not interesting, I’m not doing it,” Clark said.
Jessica Gann became the director of Alpha Time Too approximately three years ago, but she first started working at the day care in 2017.
Gann said the expansion to a second location was much needed due to the size of the original Alpha Time Too on Robertson Avenue.
“The facility is nice, but it was a little small for our waiting list, so we decided to expand and have a second location,” Gann said.
The original Alpha Time Too location on Robertson Avenue will be for children ages three years through 13 years, while the new Alpha Time Early Learning Center on Hawk Trail will be for newborns to three years.
“It just makes it easier having one center that's focused solely on preschool curriculum, and this one is more of an early learning center, and Alpha Time Too is more of a preschool now,” Gann said.
The first location is around 4,600 square feet, while the new location is 14,000 square feet.
“We can hold a lot more children,” Gann said.
With both locations, Alpha Time Too has close to 200 children enrolled, with a waitlist of another 100 or so, Gann said. The center has had a waitlist for around nine months.
“Once our waitlist got to be about eight pages is when we knew we should definitely expand,” Gann said. “We're trying to incorporate some new faces in, as far as children and staff. As soon as we get them trained, we'll be able to facilitate 100 more at this location.”
Gann said that the transition of turning the facility into the new Alpha Time Early Learning Center has been work, but is going smoothly.
At this new location, there are four playground areas for the different age groups. There is also a pool that Gann said will be running in the future.
Inside the building, there are two stories, with the afterschool care upstairs and the younger age group classrooms downstairs.
Drop off hours are between 5:30 a.m. and 9:30 a.m., and then the children participate in circle time, go over their days of the week, the weather, months of the year and sing their welcome song. They will also do what is called center time for around 15 minutes before going outside for recess.
Depending on age, children will then do a craft or a worksheet. Gann said that Alpha Time uses Frog Street Curriculum, and the curriculum is simplified for the younger age groups, starting at 18 months.
“Our goal is before preschool to have them to not only memorize but recognize their numbers, letters, be able to spell their first and last name, all of their shapes and colors,” Gann said.
Gann served in the Army and then decided to go into the childcare field upon leaving the service.
“I have two older children who are 15 and 13, and I missed so much of their childhood, growing up in the military,” Gann said. “When I got out, I found out I was having another child, so I didn't want to leave her, so I started childcare. Just seeing the different facilities around here, I wanted to be able to offer quality childcare where I know my baby is safe and taken care of in an environment where she's actually learning, not just playing all day.”
Gann said that she hopes to start offering Date Nights by September. Date Nights will be drop-in care, where parents will drop off their child at the facility. Gann said that the day has yet to be determined, but it will likely be either Fridays or Saturdays. For just $25 per child, the Date Night will be from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. and will include games, a craft, dinner and one snack.
“That's a service that will be good to have for being so close to Fort Hood, a lot of people are here that don't have family, so instead of finding a babysitter, we want to offer trusted childcare in a safe environment,” Gann said.
Friday’s Open House, which ran from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., allowed for parents to see where their children have been learning.
Earlier in the pandemic, day care facilities had been restricted by the licensing organization to the point where parents were not allowed to even come into the building. Drop-offs and pickups had to be done at the door or outside.
“We just wanted parents to see where their kids are coming to the new facilities, see the improvements we've made, see their new schedules, the curriculum they're doing, some of the arts and crafts we've been working on and get a chance to know the new teachers, the new faces that we've trained and brought in to join our team,” Gann said.
Assistant Director Nikki Thomas has been at the Alpha Time Early Learning Center for the past two weeks and said that the process has been lengthy.
“We've had to do a lot of transitions, paperwork and just new licensing, and then just getting to know new families and enrolling as well as maintain the relationships we’ve already established with our previous families with our other center,” Thomas said.
Thomas will move back to the Alpha Time Too facility on Robertson Avenue and take over as the Director of that location.
“Well, it's really exciting because it's very hard to find people that you trust to leave your children with,” Thomas said. “It's really exciting to be a part of Alpha Time because their name is everything. People really know Alpha Time and can really relate to them, and they're comfortable with us, so it's really nice to be able to expand and be able to accommodate more families.”