By Bonnie Mason

It’s never easy to have someone else — anyone other than you — take care of your children. But, when parents have to work to earn a living, they can be confident that their children are in good hands at the Kids R Kids Learning Academy of Meadow Pointe (KRK of Meadow Pointe), located minutes from New Tampa on Mansfield Blvd. at the corner of County Line Rd., inside the Meadow Pointe community.

Aritha Thomas, the independent owner of the KRK of Meadow Pointe franchise, says that what differentiates the 161 KRK academies in 14 states (including 13 centers in Florida) — and her center in particular — from other child learning centers are the accreditations and affiliations they hold.

“We exceed DCF (Florida Department of Children and Families) and State Department of Education standards and expectations and are accredited by SACS/CASI (the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Council on Accreditation and School Improvement) through the AdvancED accreditation commission and APPLE (Accredited Professional Preschool Learning Environment). We also have achieved the Gold Quality Seal from DCF. In fact, we have never been cited during an inspection and are most often in the 95-100 percent range,” says Aritha.

KRK of Meadow Pointe both teaches and cares for 250 children ages six weeks to 12 years old, with about 30 teachers and staff. The free-standing center is approximately 17,000 sq. ft., with 10 classroom suites, a cafeteria, a media/library room, a large activity gym for before- and after-school students, and four large play areas separated for different age groups. And, for outdoor play, there are three age- appropriate play areas and a full-size basketball court.

Aritha opened KRK about seven years ago. Prior to entering the ownership side of education, she taught engineering and physics to college students. Aritha explains that education runs in the family, starting with her grandfather, and her family still owns several schools in southern India. She lives in Tampa with her husband of 21 years, local businessman John Verghese. The couple has two children, a son, 17, and a 14-year-old daughter.


Curricula For All Ages

KRK of Meadow Pointe is not so much a babysitting or daycare service as it is an educational facility that provides a developmentally appropriate curriculum for each age group it serves. The love, caring and nurturing by the staff is an extra bonus, a bonus that has been the norm at all KRK centers since the first center opened in 1985. Every child enrolled, even infants, receives hands-on, interactive instruction.

“Infants as young as six weeks old are involved with stimulating play designed to help each child reach developmental milestones —all while having fun,” says Aritha. Infants also learn sign language to develop early ways to communicate to their parents if they are tired or hungry.

Meanwhile, preschoolers (ages 2-5) learn confidence through celebrating successes reached in their daily routines. The Rea family, in a written testimonial, states, “The teachers (at KRK of Meadow Pointe) are top-notch and they truly care about my children… I feel that my children are getting a good education because they constantly come home talking about what they did that day or singing new songs or with art they created.” KRK of Meadow Pointe also offers a state-sponsored, free Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten (VPK) program (see below for info).

Most of the instructors at KRK hold a Bachelor’s degree or higher and Aritha says she is proud of the low turnover at her academy. She says, “Our staff is exceptional and committed to the children and to the curriculum taught at the academy. Many of our teachers have been here for many years.” She adds that when a teacher does leave KRK of Meadow Pointe, it is typically because they are starting a family, or relocating due to the purchase of a new home or new employment for a spouse.


School-Aged Learning, Too

KRK children between the ages of 5 – 12 years are presented with activities directed to challenge the mind while having fun, explains Amy Rath, the director of KRK of Meadow Pointe. Amy earned a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Florida State University in Tallahassee before becoming a teacher of the 4th and 5th grade. She moved to Tampa so that she and her husband could live closer to family. Amy worked as a VPK teacher at a local child care center and school before landing at KRK and held the position of curriculum coordinator at the academy prior to taking on the role of center director.

“The KRK school-age curriculum is a 42-week program that allows the children to work independently and in small groups. Individual progress is monitored and the staff encourages every child.”

The technology at KRK is impressive. School-age and pre-school students have access to computers and learn with the latest interactive teaching tools available.

“Our children are always anxious to work with the ‘interactive white board’ located in the computer media center,” Amy says. “A favorite interactive learning program among the children is ABC Mouse.”


Safe & Secure

Parents should never have to worry about their children’s safety and security and KRK of Meadow Pointe definitely is a secure facility. Every teacher is background screened, locally and through the FBI. The center also has a top-notch security system that starts with a security-coded key pad and buzz-in only entrance and continues throughout the entire facility. Parents check their children in each morning by logging into a computer with secure, password-protected software. And, each evening, the children are released the same way.

Individual classrooms at KRK also are secured. Cameras monitor each room, allowing any parent to observe their children whenever they wish. The Wills family has had at least one of their children enrolled at KRK of Meadow Pointe for the last almost seven years. “As working parents, we appreciate the safe, clean, educational and friendly environment provided by Kids R Kids,” says the family’s written testimonial. “It is great we are able to drop off the children in the morning and know they are in very competent hands with extremely professional and caring teachers and staff.”

Parents interested in enrolling their child in the Voluntary Prekindergarten program (VPK) at Kids R Kids of Meadow Pointe can attend the academy’s upcoming Open House on Thursday, April 18, 3:30 p.m.-5:30 p.m. This is a great time to meet staff, see the classrooms, and learn about how the KRK curriculum prepares your child for kindergarten. There will even be a bounce house and refreshments for all to enjoy!

Kids R Kids Learning Academy of Meadow Pointe (1540 Mansfield Blvd.) is open Mon.-Fri., 6 a.m.-6:30 p.m. To enroll your child(ren) or learn more , visit KidsRKidsMeadowPointe. com or call 994-4525.


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