A few months ago, we visited the Open House at Urban Explorers Preschool. Located on Georgia Avenue between Grant Park and Zoo Atlanta, this was the southernmost school on our short list.
The owner, Jenni, is a spunky young woman full of energy. After shaving her head from a recent lice outbreak, she let the kiddos choose which color she should dye her short 'do. They chose blue--and she happily obliged! How fun is that?
We found UEP via a super strong referral from a good friend, and we were really interested in learning more. In early August, we inquired to find out that they were only accepting applications after the upcoming Open Houses--beginning in October. So, we basically wouldn't know whether it was a fit for us for a few more months. We attended the Open House in October and were very pleased with what we saw! Not to mention the Krispy Kreme donuts and hot coffee.
Open floor plan for the 1+ year olds with small classrooms for "learning" time. The facility is very clean and pretty hidden from the road--I thought it was a library or something, but the playground gave it away. The infant room is well laid out, with "classes" of cribs on either end and a common space in the middle. Each class of kids grows with each other throughout their tenure at UEP, and a teacher moves up right along with them. I love the stability this gives the kiddos.
Like many schools we visited, they follow the Creative Curriculum. Jenni was very transparent about her staff, her background, and the school's philosophy on all sorts of things. They don't deal with cloth diapers, but at 2 years old, all kids begin to potty train (whether they are doing so at home, or not). She pays her staff well and offers benefits--which results in low turnover. A rarity.
The proximity to the zoo & Grant Park makes outdoor excursions a normal occurrence, which is awesome.
Before the tour was over, we exchanged the "sign me up" look and were quick to complete the paperwork & the application fee of $50.
So far, so good.
Yeah...there's always a down side (or two):
Unfortunately, she mentioned that she only had two spots opening up in August of 2013 (remember, I'd initially inquired in August 2012), and she planned to fill those spots from a lottery based on applications received at Open Houses. The lottery was to be held in January. We weren't really sure what the "rush" to get our application in at the first Open House was, since the spots were being filled via lottery, but we complied.
Hours & Tuition: For infants, tuition runs $900/month and hours are 8:30-3:30, though you can drop-off at 8am. Yeah, I know what you're thinking. Me too! But they offer early care (7-8?) for $25/week and after care (3:30-6:00) for $75/week ($6/hour). So, if you work normal hours and need full-time care M-F from 7:30-6, you're looking at about $1300/month. Once concern we had was traffic - their location is just down the street from Turner Field, so traffic could make it tough to be there by 6pm on game days. We like the flexibility of picking up early though, and only paying for what we used.
They also offer part-time care or split-weeks.
Also, they don't have a kitchen, so parents are responsible for all meals and snacks. Not a huge deal, but it's important when you're weighing the cost & trouble. But, at least you get to control what little Johnny eats. Jenni did say she's working with the city (who owns the building) to let her put in a kitchen in the future. Of course, tuition will increase proportionately.
250 Georgia Ave #103, Atlanta, GA 30312
Hours of Operation:
M-F: 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
***UPDATE 12/28/12: Today, we received an email from UEP that the two spots opening in August were going to current families who already have older kids enrolled. So, no lottery. No chance of getting in unless some kid moves away & frees up a spot. I guess that's where our $50 deposit will go...since it didn't even buy us a chance at the lottery. Back to the freakin' drawing board. The more schools we visit, the more convinced I become that this whole childcare thing is a scam. But, what are we going to do?***