MUSCATINE, Iowa–For Mikelle Cooke, owner of Bridge to Beginnings, a new daycare center in Muscatine, nurturing children comes naturally. “I have always had a passion for kids, ” Cooke shared. “I ran a home daycare for 10 years and was thinking of opening a center.” When a space became available at 610 Maiden Lane, inside the former Washington Elementary School, she knew the time had come for her to act on her dream.
Bridge to Beginnings first opened its doors March 30th. Though the COVID-19 pandemic has presented challenges for many area businesses, Cooke’s dedication to caring for children and willingness to go the extra mile with additional cleaning and protective measures has helped her business thrive. So far, Cooke and her fellow teachers have 30 children.
With the facility continuing to undergo renovations, Bridge to Beginnings plans to offer the capacity to care for more than 52 kids between the ages of six months and 12 years 24 hours a day and to offer both three and four year old preschool classes on the same schedule that Muscatine Community School District does. Cooke hopes to phase in these changes in June, along with summer programming for children ages six to 12, pending state inspections temporarily paused to slow the spread of COVID-19. “My fingers are crossed,” said Cooke. “My goal is to be able to move forward–we are thinking within the next month.”
As Bridge to Beginnings starts working with its first group of kids, Cooke hopes the family oriented and kid friendly approaches center staff use create an environment that puts everybody at ease. “We want to be involved in our kids’ lives as much as possible to build trust,” explained Cooke. She also added that all staff have CPR and first aid certification and have completed mandatory reporter training, giving them the tools they need to respond to emergency situations effectively.
A focus on fun, hands on learning also gives Bridge to Beginnings a welcoming feel that positively engages kids. Each week, Cooke and the other teachers come up with a different theme and find educational activities to match it. For example, students will participate in a flower themed week where they will plant a garden together and a farm week where they will meet chicks. “We want the kids to have fun and to want to come back each day,” emphasized Cooke. With a high staff to student ratio (Bridge to Beginnings will have 16 teachers once all programs get up and running), the center can also make sure that hands on learning stays safe and accessible to each child.
Bridge to Beginnings continues to accept new children in all the age groups it serves. If you would like to register your child, Cooke encourages you to reach out to her by sending an email to [email protected].
Bridge to Beginnings brings together a combined 40 years of teaching experience to offer kids in Muscatine exceptional quality care in a new and innovative setting. Cooke hopes this winning combination will attract many local families.