A Local Child Care Center Cultivates Imagination and Empathy in a Cozy Bungalow.

by | Apr 2024

A BEAUTIFULLY CRAFTED Craftsman home, painted in a calming sky blue with crisp white trim, reflects the friendly, bright, and refreshing atmosphere awaiting young scholars. Annette Martinez once shared this home with her husband, Harlow, and grandson, Jerad Dyson. The home, located close to her mother’s old house, has become a sanctuary of creativity, learning, and development. The home provides a ray of hope for children throughout the community. Upon entering, the school’s pet puppy, adorned in grey and white, warmly greets visitors with enthusiasm. Inside, children are engaged in painting, their faces illuminated with joy and concentration, instantly alleviating the weight of finding a trustworthy child development center. 

Scholars Childcare is where care meets compassion, and love nurtures a desire for lifelong learning. Despite its unassuming exterior, Martinez’s child care center shines warmth and vibrancy. Her journey to owning the child care center was not a direct path. 

Born in Louisiana, raised in Chicago, and with years of experience working with children, her passion for nurturing young scholars has been her life’s purpose. After dedicating passionate years to serving her community as a juvenile detention officer in Michigan and later working with children with disabilities, Martinez was disheartened by the number of children who died in her previous jobs. 

Her journey led her to Winchester, where she cared for her mother and formed connections with local community members. Martinez found strength in her mother’s inspiring advice to follow through with her dreams and aspirations. She finally opened her own school in 2018. 

However, just as her journey truly began, Martinez found herself grieving the loss of her biggest cheerleader. In 2021, she faced the profound loss of her beloved mother. Despite the challenges, she carries proud memories of her mother’s love, guidance, and participation in Scholars Childcare’s beginning. 

“She opened the school for me, and she used to bring me stuff she found on sale. She would come in, and the kids knew she was my mom,” Martinez remembered fondly. 

Holding dear these reminders of her mother’s love and support, Martinez created a space infused with the very love and encouragement her mother embodied. 

Walking into Martinez’s child care center feels like stepping into a cozy home where every corner exudes comfort, love, and a touch of Southern hospitality. Multi-colored toys are neatly arranged in baskets, intentionally designed to create a nurturing environment for children to flourish during their nine-hour days.

What truly sets Martinez’s child care center apart is its unique approach to education. Here, children are not just class attendees but scholars, each with the inherent potential to achieve greatness. 

Beyond teaching ABCs and numbers, Martinez and her team instill values of kindness, respect, and empathy. Interactions with class pets, including dogs, guinea pigs, and even frogs, help children learn to respect and appreciate all living beings. She helps scholars gain essential developmental skills, such as fine motor, gross, and cognitive skills.

Martinez’s expertise in child development manifests through her collaboration with parents, providing them with resources and support for their children’s success. Homework at Scholars Childcare is a partnership between parents and educators, promoting literacy and learning at home and helping children retain the knowledge and skills learned in school. 

“We also assist with potty training and work on their fine motor skills — teaching them how to put on and zip up their own coat, how to put on their shoes, and things like that.” 

Success stories about Scholars Childcare are endless. Parents beam with pride as they witness their children master basic skills like eating with a fork or overcoming speech and communication challenges, helping them develop into confident individuals. 

“I had one child who would talk, but we couldn’t understand her because she had a lot of speech issues. She was with me for a couple of years, but by the time she moved on, that girl could tell you anything. It was so wonderful. She just blossomed,” enthused Martinez. 

Martinez and her dedicated staff affirm each scholar and celebrate small triumphs, like shy kids transforming into social butterflies and learning to make friends. 

“We’ve had quite a bit of success. It’s the simple things that really matter.” 

Martinez dreams big for the future, aspiring to see her students thrive academically and become compassionate, responsible leaders in the community. Whether they become senators or simply develop a love for learning, Martinez’s ultimate goal is to instill a lifelong appreciation for education. 

Martinez credits her dedicated team, including her husband, Harlow, who handles maintenance and cleaning, and co-teachers Megan Hopkins and Amanda Lore, who bring their energy and enthusiasm with them to class every day, for the child care center’s success. Together, they form a supportive community dedicated to the well-being and growth of every scholar in their care. 

What may seem like a simple job for many is a special calling and labor of love for Martinez, bringing her immense joy and fulfillment each passing day. As long as there are children who need love and guidance, Martinez will be there as a guiding light in their journey of learning and creativity. GN 

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