‘Growing and Knowing’ fulfills a mother’s dreams

| 07 May 2014 | 01:39

Gail Van Eeuwen loves being a mother.

So much so that at any given moment she may be caring for as many as 30 other children besides her own.

Van Eeuwen and her husband Rob are the owners of the Growing and Knowing Academy on Route 94 in McAfee.

Taking the plunge
“I was a first grade teacher in Newark a little over five years ago,” says Van Eeuwen. “I realized that I was missing my children growing up. So I left teaching and within a few months I was asked to run the preschool that my children were attending.”

Four years later there was an opportunity to buy the business, and the Van Eeuwens took the plunge.

That was one year ago and they have never looked back. Growing and Knowing Academy celebrated its one-year anniversary on April 19.

Running a preschool takes a lot of dedication. The school is open from 6 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. every weekday. There are separate sections according to the age of the children: 18 months and below, 18 months to three years, three, and four.

Before and after care is provided for school-age children, including a camp in the summer. Gail employs nine staffers to ensure that each child gets the attention he or she needs.

A family business
She also gets assistance closer to home — her three children Abby, Robby and Jake all lend a hand.

“My children help in as many ways as they can. My boys go to school during the day and I pick them up after school and they come right back to our business with me,” says Van Eeuwen.

Along with husband Rob, “We have spent so many weekends and late nights working at the school.”

Learning is accomplished in a fun way, focusing on sounds and letters, sign language, science and math. Special projects spice up the week — the children made collages for Earth Day, and the chef from Cravin Thai in Hamburg recently demonstrated the art of making spring rolls.

Two separate outdoor play areas, for toddlers and older kids, help dissipate their youthful energy.

Van Eeuwen loves every minute and is currently preparing a graduation ceremony for June 20.

“I am proof that dreams do come true,” she says. “I always wanted to be a teacher and open my own preschool/ daycare some day. As faith has it, here I am with my family owning and running our own school.”