HICKORY — Northlakes Academy Child Development Center provides a safe, nurturing, and developmentally-appropriate environment for children to learn and grow.
On Saturday, Sept. 17, Northlakes Academy will be celebrating its 41st anniversary, and the community is invited to attend.
According to Director Geri Ward, Northlakes Academy is the oldest operating childcare facility in the county.
The facility was built in August 1981 by Dr. J.D. Robinette to give dental assistants a place to take their children while they were at work. Robinette also continues to work at his dental practice, Robinette and Associates, at 1850 Clement Boulevard NW in Hickory.
Northlakes Academy is a 5-star center.
“North Carolina has rated childcare centers from 1 to 5 stars since 1999 or 2000,” said Ward. “It’s about quality and teacher education. We’re rated every three years, and we’ve been able to maintain a 5-star rating since that time.”
At Northlakes Academy, staff are dedicated to providing the best services they can for families and children in the community.
“Receiving a 5-star rating means we have to meet standards above and beyond the state requirements,” said Robin Prichard, administrator. “The state requires one teacher for a certain amount of children, and we choose to have one less child per classroom to deliver higher quality education. We strive for what’s best for the children. Taking one less child per teacher definitely cuts into our bottom line, but it’s about the quality of care that we’re providing for our clients.”
On Saturday, Sept. 17, Northlakes Academy will host a free anniversary celebration from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.. There will be a number of activities and games for the whole family to enjoy, including a bounce house, petting zoo, dunking booth, and face painting. Additionally, attendees can enjoy snacks such as cotton candy and snow cones. Several community organizations will also be there to talk with families about the services they provide, including SmartStart, the Health Department, and more. Northlakes Academy alumni and children’s T-shirts will be on sale.
“We’re inviting the entire community,” Ward said. “We want all the Northlakes alumni to come back and see how our facility’s doing.”
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Prichard said that Northlakes Academy is a child development center, not a daycare center.
“There is education going on in every classroom we have, including infants,” she said. “It’s about teacher-child interactions; a daycare, to me, has the connotation of you drop your kids off and they’re just being warehoused. That’s not what we do. That’s a lot of what the 5 stars is supposed to represent.”
Prichard explained that the brain is not fully developed when a child is born but grows from age 0 to age 3.
“Any issues a child has, we can provide the services at the time that the brain can receive it best,” she said. “Once they get into public school, they’re 8 or 9 or 10 years old, it’s so much harder to go back and fix those things. We can provide all those services, and we can recognize when there’s atypical behavior going on.”
Northlakes Academy accepts children 6 weeks to 12 years old. The Academy supplies baby food, wipes, sheets, and bibs for all infants, and they participate in the Child and Adult Care Food Program to serve healthy and nutritious meals and snacks to all students.
“Dr. Robinette is the reason we are who we are,” said Prichard. “He owns the facility, but he does not profit of this center. Everything we bring in goes back into the center; that’s extremely important.”
Northlakes Academy is located at 5638 Grace Chapel Road in Hickory.
Visit www.northlakesacademy5star.com or follow Northlakes Academy on Facebook to find more information about the 41st anniversary celebration this weekend.
“Northlakes Academy continues to strive to provide quality and developmentally-appropriate care to children in our community as we have for the past 41 years,” said Ward. “We invite the community to this free event and hope that we may see some familiar faces as well as new ones.”