LOUISBURG — Megan Huffman has an abundance of faith and patience.
So when her new daycare center didn’t open in August as originally planned, she didn’t give up hope.
Neither did her staff, after red tape at the state level derailed the target date.
“A lot of families really wanted to come here but had to make other arrangements because we weren’t quite open,” Huffman, who is originally from Bucyrus, said.
But the center is now open, and Huffman and Director Pamela Clark couldn’t be happier with the response they have received from the community.
“It’s been fun. We’re definitely excited to get in here and get it open,” Huffman said. “Pam has done early childhood for over three decades, and we’ve worked together for years. Our philosophies match up pretty well, so we’re both just excited to provide another quality option for Louisburg since they only had one center.”
Despite a delayed opening, Clark said the center already has 31 kids that are either full-time, part-time or “after schoolers.” The center has room for growth, with a current maximum capacity of 88 students.
“We have a great staff of very dedicated teachers,” Clark said. “We planned to open in August, then in September — and they stayed with us. They have gone the extra mile to make sure everything was ready (for the opening).”
Rising Sun Learning Center opened its doors Oct. 7 at 1001 S. Broadway St. in Louisburg.
It is Huffman’s second center. She also owns Rising Sun Learning Center in Kansas City, Mo., where she serves as director.
Like Clark, Huffman also has a background in early childhood development and in social work.
The Christian-based center is licensed by the state to also accept foster children and other kids on state aid.
“My professional background before I went into early childhood education I worked in foster care for years in the Jackson County (Mo.) area,” Huffman said. “I’m very familiar with the system, familiar with the struggle foster parents go through. We’re not going to ever turn away a foster kid because they are on state aid.”
Huffman said the building — which has housed daycare centers in the past — was in decent condition despite being empty for a time.
“The center was closed about two years, so it took some work for sure,” Huffman said. “This was our labor of love over the last several months to get it up to par.”
Huffman said some remodeling work already has been completed to improve efficiencies and security. More projects are planned, she said.
“We did pretty much all the work ourselves. I think my hand was permanently in the position of holding a paint brush for a while,” Huffman said, smiling. “My husband (Allen) is very handy. He owns an electric contracting company. It’s definitely been a Godsend, not only to have him as a husband and father but also as a business partner.”
The couple opened the Kansas City center on Megan’s 30th birthday in April 2016.
“I never dreamed of owning a business, but sometimes man’s plans and God’s plans don’t always match up,” Huffman said.
Clark and Huffman recounted stories of students and parents who have stayed in touch with them.
“For a child who is now 40 to come back and say, ‘Do you remember me, I was in your preschool or I was at this center?’ is wonderful. And I always do (remember them),” Clark said. “Seeing them grow into a productive part of society is very rewarding. You can’t put a price tag on that.”
Clark and Huffman said they place a big emphasis on social and emotional learning in addition to teaching kids how to count and say their ABCs.
“Ask any kindergarten teacher if you would rather have a kid who knows their ABCs and 123s or a kid who has social and emotional skills, and they’ll take the social and emotional skills every day and twice on Sunday,” Huffman said. “Those skills will serve them not only in kindergarten but throughout their lifetime.”
The center is open Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. for children ages two weeks to 10 years of age.
“We’re here and we’re ready to serve families, including foster kids, adopted kids, state assisted,” Huffman said. “If a kiddo needs quality care, send them our way.”