A child development center that calls itself “God’s Green House” for children celebrates its 50th anniversary this month, and it plans to expand this fall.
“The idea is ‘Growing Kids God’s Way,'” says Delane Ogden, the center director, pointing to a banner at the entrance. “That is the entire basis of why we’re here.”
Now five decades old, Hixson United Methodist Church Child Development Center will expand to include 1-year-olds in August, adding to its current population of about 100 children ages 2-5. Officials say expansion will continue in 2018 with a plan to accept infants.
“A lot of our parents have younger children, and they need to be able to drop them off at one place and not have to go to two different facilities to drop off children,” Ogden explains of the decision.
The expansion comes after the center opened a $3.6 million facility for child care and children’s Sunday School in June 2016.
Sandra Stoddard, who taught at the center in the late 1960s and early 1970s, was among several former teachers and supporters who visited the facility earlier this month in celebration of its 50th year.
Just being in the building sparks learning, Stoddard says after taking a tour.
Children walk on carpet covered with the alphabet and nap above rugs showing the world’s seven continents.
“I don’t see how a child could be bored just being in any of the rooms,” says Stoddard.
Joan Barnes opened the school in the fall of 1966 with about 15 students. It was a kindergarten class before the state offered free kindergarten, Stoddard recalls.
Barnes started the school after seeing the need for children in the Hixson area to have more kindergarten classes. Classes operated in other locations, but they were not as convenient as having class at the church.
Stoddard led the school the following year, after Barnes moved to Signal Mountain.
The state started providing free kindergarten classes in the early…