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Learning center in Scottdale begins relocates in former library

| Saturday, March 31, 2012

A new day care and early-learning center is up and running on Pittsburgh Street in Scottdale.

Bailey's Early Learning Center will have an open house from 1 to 3 p.m. Sunday. Owner Merritt Bailey and her staff will give tours and share their vision for the center.

"The community has been so supportive," said Bailey. "We want them to know that we appreciate it and to show them that their support has really made a difference in our being able to open downtown."

Although the location is new for the business, the day care-learning center has been operating out of Bailey's home in Scottdale since 2007.

Bailey, who said she has always loved being around young children, has a dual degree in early-childhood education and in-home child care (nannying). She has been teaching for more than 24 years.

"I have always felt there was a need for quality child care in the Scottdale area, but I could only provide services to 12 children in my home," Bailey said. "When Guardian Angels was closing, there became an immediate need for those children, and I was unable to accept any more, so we decided to expand."

The new location along Pittsburgh Street is in the former library building. Bailey said her friends and family worked hard to get the space prepared as a learning center.

One of the bathrooms had to be made handicapped-accessible. Panic hardware was installed on all the doors because the site is a locked center. The facility has new permits and new inspections.

"I have always loved this space when it was the public library," Bailey said. "Having multiple rooms is great for separating the children by ability as well as by age. And by being downtown, the children can learn about the town we live in through various walking field trips to local businesses."

Bailey takes the children to the library each week. Now it's a shorter walk.

"We are loving all the space we have, and the children are enjoying exploring the new classrooms," Bailey said. "Being right downtown is fantastic."

Bailey's Early Learning Center is a hands-on, literacy-based center.

"That means that you won't see are a lot of dittos and cookie-cutter projects," Bailey said. "What you will see are plenty of open-ended activities based around our literacy curriculum. We believe in giving our students both roots and wings and are focused on helping each child grow and learn at their own rate."

With low student-teacher ratios, the center can alter each child's curriculum to meet his or her needs, she said.

"As such, our rooms are based more on ability rather than age," Bailey said. "For example, in our infant and toddler room (the Seedlings), our primary focus is on providing a safe and stimulating environment for our youngest children while encouraging them to explore and develop their independence."

Before those children can move on to the next room (the Sprouts), they must be able to feed themselves, nap on a mat, sit for a short circle time and follow some simple directions.

"We also offer a full-day preschool program to prepare our 4- to 5-year-olds (the Saplings) for kindergarten. We also offer exciting summer camps and homework help to our before- and after-school students," Bailey said.

The learning center accepts students from 6 weeks old to age 12.

The center, which opened on March 19, operates from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. Five teachers are on the staff. The center also has a music therapist who works with the children.

The center's teachers are hopeful that a foreign language can be offered.

"At Bailey's Early Learning Center, we believe that high-quality child care should be the standard, not the exception," Bailey said. "Early-childhood education plays a pivotal role in a child's future success. And what sets BELC apart from other centers is our dedication to providing the very best care and education to each of our students."

She said the center offers a dedicated, experienced teachers and has supportive parents and wonderful students.

"It's like one big family," Bailey said. "I have the best job in the world."

For more information or to schedule a visit, call 724-220-5180.

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