September will mark a new era for A Rising Star Children’s Center.
The Center is moving from Cortlandt to 52 Scenic Drive in Croton to coincide with the start of the new school year.
Cortlandt resident Gloria Foster has owned the Center since she opened it in June 2004. “I started the business because I saw there was a shortage of what I felt was quality childcare in the area,” Foster explained.
She opened the Center when she was pregnant with her daughter, Tessa Vayda. “I didn’t want to just place her anywhere. I wanted an educational program where she could learn and grow,” Foster said. “I didn’t see that available. There were programs but ones that I felt were not at the quality that I wanted. So, I started a small program which ballooned into a much larger program.”
Foster explained why she wanted to move to a new facility. “We’ve been looking for a building like this that was surrounded by woods, not in a parking lot or shopping center, where kids can grow up in the country,” she said. “We found this building and it was the perfect fit.”
The building began as a private house dating back to 1905. It was originally owned by Paul Brown, a stone mason who built the home, Foster noted. He was an original contractor that helped to build the Empire State Building.
The building later became a retreat center and then was given to the First Hebrew Congregation, which owned it for decades, Foster said. First Hebrew moved to Peekskill and rented it out, said, Foster, adding she closed on the property in March and renovations have been taking place since April.
The Center provides programs for youths from six-weeks-old to age 12. Education is an important component to all of the Center’s programs, Foster said.
“We feel every that moment is a teachable moment,” she said. “We start with infants teaching them how to first build a social awareness of the people around them and then use their gross motor skills to be able to sit up, eventually stand, roll over and then eventually walk. We teach them language so that instead of screaming and pointing they can use sounds, they can use sign language to tell what they want.”
The preschool program is similar to a regular school setting, Foster said. “All their classes have a structured routine,” she said. “We teach them about the world around them and every month is a new theme.”
“The school-aged program is designed to allow parents to drop their kids off in the morning so they can go to work,” she said. Breakfast is served to the children and then after school they return to the Center where the youths have a snack, receive homework help and take part in indoor and outdoor recreation, she said.
The Center’s program is not limited to academics, Foster said. “Every day we go out twice a day regardless of the weather,” she said. “Learning about nature is a big component of our program.”