Natalia Temesgen

Day care is one of many facilities working to mold young minds

The snow days last week were magical for some, harrowing for others, and some combination of those for the rest of us.

If you were snowed in with young kids, you may have found yourself going a bit nutty by the end of Day 1. It’s no joke: I have two under age 5 and there are times when I am ready to crawl under a table myself. Those days make us even more appreciative of the educators that support working parents by caring for their young children.

One such group in our own community is the Fourth Street Day Care Center and Academy in downtown Columbus. The day care has been in place for 25 years, but in 2004 when it was at capacity and continuing to grow within the walls of the Fourth Street Missionary Baptist Church, it moved into its own building on Eighth Street right across from the Ma Rainey house.

Myra Lockhart is the executive director and when I spoke with her recently about her work at Fourth Street, she was beaming with pride and fueled by her desire to continue taking the school to the next level.

“Problems start when we begin to take our eyes off of our children,” Myra says. “We put our eyes back on the children.” And the loving, nurturing gaze of Myra and her team have produced intelligent, engaged young people over the past couple of decades.

The current building boasts a cutting-edge STEAM lab for its preschool aged students. Every Friday, 3- and 4-year-olds get to work in the lab, which is decorated with planets hanging from the ceiling and stars lighting up along the walls. They do science experiments. They create art. They do engineering projects. The lab has a smartboard, and next, Myra told me, they will be acquiring a 3-D printer for the lab to completely blow these young students away.

Every year, Fourth Street Day Care hosts a Benefit Gala to honor a new Hall of Fame inductee. This honoree is an alumnus of the day care who has gone on to achieve incredible things as a young adult. It is crucial to Fourth Street to stay in touch with their students once they age out of the day care. They track their successes and support them along the way.

This year’s gala will take place on Feb. 23 at 6:00 p.m. in the Julia Frederick Hall of Fourth Street Missionary Baptist Church. The $50 donation to attend the gala will fund continued programming at the day care. Next month, the Gala will honor two young men who have come through the day care program.

One of these young men came to the school after having trouble at other local day care facilities. He was viewed by other teachers as a bit of a troublemaker, but Myra noticed quickly that he was simply exceptionally bright and lacking the kind of challenges that he needed to thrive. Fourth Street Day Care invested in this young man and watched him blossom academically. Today, he is an accomplished graduate of Columbus High School and a freshman at Mercer University. His plan is to become a general surgeon. Myra wonders what his academic trajectory might have been if he hadn’t come to Fourth Street Day Care, but is so grateful that he did.

It is always important to remember the good that is happening right here in our community, especially when we are inundated with stories about fear and frustration. Join me in celebrating Fourth Street Day Care and their continued dedication to the young citizens of Columbus.

Natalia Naman Temesgen is an independent contractor. Contact her at nntemesgen@gmail.com.

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