Giving Your Child a Bright Future
Fulton County resident and teacher Cheryl Curtis saw a gap in early childhood education in her community, so she decided to fill it. “My vision was to provide a service that didn’t exist in this area—an educational daycare,” said Curtis, who serves as director. In June 2016, after meeting the rigorous state requirements for childcare facilities, Curtis opened Bright Futures Learning Center in Gloversville, serving children from six weeks to five years old.
“I never wanted to babysit children—I wanted to educate them,” Curtis said. “That’s the difference coming here. “My motto is ‘setting the stage for academic success,’ because I want kids to fly into kindergarten.”
She accomplishes this in part through her teaching staff. All classroom teachers have degrees in education; some have bachelor’s degrees, and some have master’s degrees. Curtis starts her teachers out at the going salary for a new teacher. “I am walking a very fine line with the salaries and the costs of my daycare,” she said. “We’re trying to provide everything we can and still make it work and yet make it affordable to parents.”
My motto is ‘setting the stage for academic success,’ beca use I wa nt kids to fly into kindergarten.”
Bright Futures weaves the hands-on learning and collaborative play of the Montessori method of education with the skills that children will need to enter public school in Fulton County. “We blend Montessori with public school needs in order to give the children the best-rounded fit for the start of their education,” said Curtis, noting that Bright Futures is Montessori-certified.
All age-level classrooms, including infant, 18-36 months, three-year-old, and four- and five-year-old, have the same academic calendar that teachers follow according to their students’ developmental needs. For example, in a science lesson, children might take a walk on one of the two nature trails and collect cicada shells.
The four and five-year-olds might watch a video about cicadas, while the children in the 18-month to 3-year-old class might learn the sound a cicada makes. “Our two- to three-year-olds can count 10 items, and by the time they get to our four-year-old room, they can read, and if not read, they can recognize sight words,” Curtis said.
Bright Futures serves catered lunches. “We have healthy meals,” Curtis said. “We don’t serve sandwiches; we serve meals.”
Play is important, too, and children go outside in the morning and after 3 p.m. to the playground that Curtis was able to build with assistance from a grant from the Fulton County Center for Regional Growth. A second grant provided funding to acquire the Montessori curriculum and five classroom computers.
The daycare is medication-certified, so staff can administer medications where required. Speech, occupational, and physical therapists come on-site to work with children who benefit from these services.
Bright Future’s 15 teachers currently serve an average of 75 full- and part-time students per week. In January 2020, Curtis expanded the center to add a classroom for infants and a second classroom for three-year-olds.