Editor’s Note: This article was written and submitted by Chris Boyle.
With the announcement that the North Bellmore School District would be closing Jacob Gunther Elementary School
last June and opening up the building to commercial leasing, many expressed disappointment that a long era of education was coming to an end.
However, Wee Friends Too, a daycare facility with over three decades of experience in taking care of children, is now leasing
the facility and will continue to mold young minds. Co-founder Rena Kramer explained the philosophy behind Wee Friends’ special brand of daycare.
“My co-director and co-founder Barbara and I started Wee Friends 35 years ago because we felt that the nursery schools our children were attending at the time weren’t meeting the needs of our children,” Kramer said. “We spent almost two years developing a curriculum to meet the needs of that generation, and we’re continuously adapting to meet the needs of today’s children as well.”
Wee Friends originated in Wantagh, and it’s been open for 35 years. They followed up their success in Wantagh by opening a second location in Merrick seven years ago.
“What sets us apart is that we have a great staff-to-child ratio, and our teachers are certified teachers of course,” she said. “Many of the parents have said to us other daycare facilities are nothing more than ‘glorified babysitting.’ We are not. When you work hard, it’s nice to hear nice things like that.”
However, according to Kramer, the demanding schedules of modern families necessitated another facility with a greater degree of flexibility.
“Many parents at the two current locations would come to us and tell us that they had returned to the work force, and needed extended daycare hours for their children,” she said. “The buildings we use in Wantagh and Merrick do not allow extended hours. So when it was brought to our attention that they were closing the Gunther school, we found that there is a very strong need for teachers who are going back to the workforce to have a facility where they children can go to with those extended hours.”
“So, we started developing a program with those needs in mind,” Kramer added. “It’s different than nursery school. The extended hours, which start at 7 a.m., allow for a breakfast club and extra-curricular activities such as the gym or extra music. Then, at 9 a.m., they go into a school setting, and at the end of the day the extended hours allow for other activities.”
Kramer said that, when she discovered that Gunther had officially gone on the market, she quickly realized that it would be a perfect fit for Wee Friends, who is currently slated to be its sole tenant.
What do you think of the mission of Wee Friends? Is it a positive addition to the community? Tell us in the comments below.
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