Little Hawks Early Learning Center is expected to open within the next couple of weeks in a 10,000-square-foot building at 11333 Hardin Valley Road, right next to Hardin Valley Academy’s entrance.
“We’re very excited,” Little Hawks director Jennifer Craig said about the opening. “I can’t wait to see the kids.”
“We want to be more like a family, not just assistant director or director,” assistant director Lisa Moneymaker said. “We want to be a team.”
Little Hawks Early Learning Center, serving children from 6 weeks to preschool, as well as providing an after-school program, is a non-denominational Christian faith-based agency, Craig said.
“We’re going to teach Bible verses,” she added. “We are going to be able to teach Bible lessons, talk about Christ (and sing songs).
“We’re here to help the families, come alongside the families and be their third teacher of their children and love on them while their parents are working, We just want to win children to Christ.
“It’s going to be play-based learning,” Moneymaker said.
“We will have developmentally appropriate activities,” Craig said. “Our curriculum is based on Reggio Emilia (an early education philosophy focusing on a child’s natural development). Children will be learning through play.
“We have learning inside the building, and we have built a 6,300-square-foot natural playscape playground, so we will be able to take learning outside,” she added.
“We have a beautiful botanical garden. We have three different playgrounds – infant, toddler and preschool.
With a broad scope, “We’re going to be able to teach them about anything,” Craig said. “We’ve got plants there for hummingbirds, butterflies … just about any kind of nature, we are going to be able to teach them.
“We also have a sensory walk inside our building,” she added. “Children just need a place to get some energy out.
“We’ll be feeding them breakfast, lunch and snacks while they’re there. Our daycare will have a family appeal.”
Contact the center online at www.littlehawkselc.com, call 865-253-7261 or e-mail at email@example.com/. Hours are from 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday.
“Right now, we’re pretty much on a waiting list,” Craig said. However, she added there are some spots for 3- to 5-year olds.
“I’ve had a lot of calls,” she said. “People are closing their centers because they can’t find staff. We had the opportunity, in our building, to open four baby rooms, and they’re full.”
Craig added they do have property available to expand in the future, though.
Before coming to Little Hawks, Craig, who has a degree in early childhood development, spent 25 years with an employment training agency and two years as a director at Susannah’s House.
Meanwhile, Moneymaker said she has worked children “in some form or fashion my whole, entire life,” from fostering to day care centers, a church nursery and working in the nursery and childcare at Susannah’s House, where she met Craig. Moneymaker holds a Child Development Associate degree and now is working on her technical degree.
“She was a gem, and I had to take her with me,” Craig said of Moneymaker.
After surveying the community, the owner, who asked not to be identified, discovered the No. 1 need in the community was a daycare.
“He’s just following a dream,” Craig said of the owner. “He opened a construction company, and he’s still following God’s lead.”
Craig learned about the center after “my husband, a contractor, met him two years ago,” she said. “When he told my husband that he was looking to open a daycare center, (her husband) told him (the owner) needed to talk to me because my lifelong dream was to open a childcare center.
“I met (the owner) about a year and a half ago and told him my dream … we started the process in fall of 2019 and have been working at it ever since to get it open,” Craig said