By: ABI GETTO
A quaint house at the corner of Ripley and Richardson streets has been home to Dolores Heizelman since 1963.
It may seem like any other residence in the Benton-Stephens neighborhood, but it is actually a fusion of family home, school and daycare.
Heizelman and her daughter, Debra Purvis, started the accredited daycare Kids are Great Learning Center, at 300 Ripley St. in 1989. Purvis is the official director of the center, and the two run the organization in Heizelman’s home.
“It’s totally family affair,” Purvis said of Kids are Great, which she described as a “family childcare home.”
Kids are Great is an academic-based daycare for children up to 10 years old. The hours are 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., allowing it to double as both a daycare and preschool.
Families come from all over Columbia — in the past, some as far as Jefferson City — to attend, Purvis said. Because it only accepts 10 children at a time, the organization boasts both inexpensive and personal care.
“We can brag and say that our last five graduates are all going through accelerated programs,” Purvis said.
In the 21 years the center has been in service, loyalty among families has remained strong, she said. Several current students are siblings of students that graduated the center.
“I can count on one hand the people who have left because we weren’t doing standardized learning, which we’re not,” Purvis said. “We’re very hands on.”
Purvis said she has 2,978 hours of training, as well as an associate’s degree in early childhood education. She said she will complete a bachelor’s degree in human developmental studies this spring.
She said many of the families with children at the center tend to know each other and become close.
“It’s all a very personal situation,” she added. “It really is like a family.”