A lot can happen in two years.
A baby can grow into a toddler, learn to walk, and then learn to run. In just two years. And in just two years, one woman’s passion for early childhood education can blossom into an indispensable community resource, while all around her a big, happy network of support grows.
That’s what has happened at TEAMS Learning Center in Wenatchee. I wrote about it for this blog when the non-profit childcare center first opened, in May of 2016.
Since then, TEAMS has helped fill a need for high-quality, affordable, drop-in childcare in the Wenatchee Valley. Every weekday, TEAMS opens its doors for three three-hour childcare sessions for children up to five years old — from 9 a.m. to noon, from 1-4 p.m. and from 5-8 p.m. It costs $20 per child per session, though if the parent sticks around and plays along, the session is free. Plus, older siblings are welcome during the evening session. It’s the perfect amount of time for busy parents to run errands, clean the house, or maybe even go out for a kid-free dinner. The classroom space is lovely, with tons of natural light and special areas for reading, make-believe, snack time, etc. And there’s no commitment — no daycare applications or contracts. TEAMS also offers parent and teacher support groups, trainings and childbirth classes.
Before opening TEAMS, Joy Robertson (“Teacher Joy” as just about everybody calls her) ran The Learning Curve on Maiden Lane and Western Avenue for many years. It is that background, plus evidence-based best practices, that Joy draws on to create the TEAMS curriculum. So when your kids are playing at TEAMS, they are learning — making noise, dancing around, being silly and getting messy — all in ways that promote social and cognitive growth.
Joy’s staff call her “a dreamer who gets shit done.” And somewhere along the way, as Joy has worked her tail off these past few years to create a positive place for children, she seems to have also created a circle of parents who have bonded with one another, support each other, and who gladly volunteer their time and money to keep TEAMS open.
“I might have push-started this train, but it’s everyone who has come on board that keeps it running,” Joy said. One volunteer I spoke to told me: “I feel like I have found my people.”
If you haven’t already checked out TEAMS, I encourage you to give it a go. Most morning and afternoon sessions fill up fast, so book in advance online. It’s the evening sessions that typically remain open. Joy wants that to change, though. She wants all of us parents to use her whenever we need a dinner out, or just a peaceful evening without the kids.
But here’s the reality: That $20 drop-in session fee doesn’t cover the costs of running TEAMS, with its staff of seven. It is going to take the goodwill of this community to keep TEAMS operating. If you want to help keep this valuable community resource open and thriving, there are several things you can do.
First, when you send your kids to TEAMS for drop-in sessions, stick around to volunteer your time — in the classroom, in the garden, in the office. Whatever your skills are, Joy will find a way to put you to work. Or you can donate money, food and supplies. Or attend a parenting class. And this summer, you can volunteer to help Joy and her crew man a food booth during concerts at the Gorge, with proceeds going to TEAMS.
Joy has created something special. If we value this kind of childcare in Wenatchee, it’s up to us to support it.
TEAMS Learning Center is located behind the Woods House Conservatory of Music at 21. North Buchanan Street in Wenatchee. For more information, go to teamslearningcenter.org.
(Photos by Andrea Davis.)