By Sue Moore
Enthusiasm runs high at the new Little Eagles Learning Center at 249 N. Grand Street in Schoolcraft. The owners, Katie Boyes and Amanda DeMaso, took a leap of faith as partners when they opened their day care facility on June 13 with high expectations. They now have 32 children enrolled with 11 teachers signed up to teach and care for the children ages six weeks to 12 years old.
“It’s been a roller coaster ride,” said Boyes in explaining the time it took from buying the building in January to now. “Kalamazoo County State Bank put their trust in us and for that we are grateful. We had to completely renovate the building that had been the former Movie Gallery. It took five months to opening day, so we literally lived here until it was complete.”
The two are close friends from their days in high school in Climax-Scotts, though they went their separate ways until each moved to Schoolcraft a few years ago. Boyes has five children, ages one through eight. DeMaso has three children, ages three, six and eight. “We love children and decided it was time to start this business,” Boyes said. Previously she was employed by MPI and Pfizer, ending up in the regulatory division. DeMaso has a family studies degree from Western Michigan and worked at MPI for ten years. They claim the most important thing for them in starting the day care business was the opportunity to spend each day with their own children while enjoying all the others who have since enrolled.
“We felt there was a hole in the market for more quality and affordable placement for children in day care,” Boyes said. “We didn’t go into this expecting to make lots of money; rather we wanted to provide a service to our friends’ children and our own. It has expanded from that premise. We are licensed for up to 62 children where we can offer lots of services and curriculum-based educational opportunities.”
Boyes is the energizer bunny who plans the curriculum, cooks the meals, and even cleans the toilets. DeMaso likes to take care of the business end and has her desk located right by the front entrance where she can oversee all the activity. They schedule a bus to transport kids to and from activities, such as their recent visits to the Kalamazoo County Fair, the Air Zoo and Jungle Joe’s. They’ve had a “spy camp”, a carnival, a science week, and a gratitude week over the summer. Now they are looking toward fall enrollment, especially looking to expand their nursery, the “wobblers” at ages one and two, and providing an educational atmosphere for three-year-olds.
They abide by state criteria for staffing with one staff member for every four infants through age two, one teacher per 10 three-year-olds and one teacher per 12 pre-schoolers. Little Eagles can accept children up to age 12 with hours from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. It serves breakfast, lunch and two snacks per day with a fully licensed kitchen for preparation. The whole building gets sanitized each day to prevent children from getting “germy” said Boyes.
The phone number is 269-679-3809 and email is firstname.lastname@example.org.