Good fortune shines on local preschool
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For more information about Anne Helene Garberg’s Rocky Mountain School of Discovery in Gypsum and Sunshine Mountain preschool, call 970-390-7035.
EAGLE — A last-minute agreement saved dozens of local families from scrambling for child care.
Sunshine Mountain Preschool was supposed to close Friday, but it didn’t.
Instead, Anne Helene Garberg was at the Eagle Methodist Church bright and early Friday morning, greeting children and families after she agreed to take over Sunshine Mountain Preschool. The church board agreed to let the school stay in the church building.
“They church board has been fantastic!” Garberg said. “This is an opportunity from above.”
Garberg already runs Rocky Mountain School of Discovery, based in Gypsum’s First Lutheran Church. She said she was looking for a second location in Eagle.
“When this opportunity came along, I took it,” Garberg said.
Future with child care
Last week, Sunshine Mountain parents were facing a future without child care. Some were on waiting lists and found other program; the rest were scrambling, said a letter from Karen Harkins, Sunshine Mountain board member.
“This is a win-win for everyone. This is a great beginning,” Garberg said.
Garberg said she’s happy in the two church buildings, but for her program a farm would be a perfect setting.
“We try to connect the children to their natural world,” she said. “There is a huge need in these digital times. People are more and more disconnected from what sustains life.”
Garberg is originally from Scandinavia, and said she is no fan of the corporate curriculum found in most public schools.
“Through the standardization of common core curriculum and human life, we rob children of their creativity,” she said. “We keep indoctrinating children. There’s no room for critical thinking and curiosity.
“I look at curiosity as the engine that drives education,” she said. “Our brains are created to learn. It doesn’t come from the outside. It comes from the inside.”
Small problem, big problem
Keeping Sunshine Mountain open is a small victory in a larger battle that has plagued the region for decades, said Stacy Petty, director of the Rocky Mountain Early Childhood Council.
Two other programs are on the brink of closing, and there is a desperate shortage of infant and toddler care, Petty said.
Then there’s the cost.
In the upper valley, putting your child in child care or preschool program five days a week can cost up to $12,000 a year, enough to pay for a full year of classes at a state university.
“The price of child care, in terms of what people pay, is not the cost of child care. Families could not afford to pay that cost,” Petty said.
Sunshine Mountain is a preschool. The critical shortage is in infant and toddler care, said Liz McGillvray, director of Early Childcare Partners.
McGillvray says families in resort areas can spend up to 30 percent of their income on child care. Federal programs provide care for the lowest income families. But middle-income families who don’t qualify for federal help often struggle, McGillvray said.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and firstname.lastname@example.org.