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Adventure Academy preschool boosts kindergarten readiness

Recently, Adventure Academy in Dickinson celebrated a ribbon ceremony.

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Angie Barber, owner and operator of Adventure Academy, LLC, holds the scissors before cutting the ribbon as members from the Dickinson Area Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors Committee smile on Thursday, Dec. 9, 2021, on the second floor of St. Joe's Plaza. Opening her doors at the end of November, Barber said she's looking forward to providing a unique service to the community by offering preschool and extended daycare. (Jackie Jahfetson / The Dickinson Press)

Adventure Academy, LLC, is now in its third week running as a five-day a week preschool and daycare center in Dickinson. The Dickinson Area Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors Committee helped celebrate the opening of the new business during a ribbon cutting ceremony Thursday, Dec. 9, on the second floor of St. Joe’s Plaza. Angie Barber, owner and operator of Adventure Academy, provided a tour showing the three large classrooms children are rotated in throughout the day, a kitchen and teacher’s lounge.

With more than 23 years of experience, Barber said she was inspired to open Adventure Academy on Nov. 29 when she realized there was a shortage for early education centers within Dickinson. For many parents, it’s difficult to meet the pick-up and drop-off times for daycares and preschools when it interrupts their work day, she said.

“... I decided to start Adventure Academy to help alleviate that problem because we basically are ending up with a bunch of children that would start kindergarten that didn’t have an opportunity to go to preschool," Barber said. "Even if they go to preschool for a couple of days a week for 2 hours and 15 minutes each day, that’s just socializing them… So in order for our child to be on track when they start kindergarten, the majority of children need to be in a five-day week curriculum program. Or they end up utilizing school resources within the first 30 days.”

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Angie Barber, owner and operator of Adventure Academy, LLC, stands by a Dutch door, demonstrating the safety feature it has for children at her early education center during a ribbon cutting ceremony Thursday, Dec. 9, 2021, on the second floor of St. Joe's Plaza. (Jackie Jahfetson / The Dickinson Press)

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Adventure Academy is open to ages 3 to 5, and all must be toilet trained. The academy runs Monday through Friday, with daycare from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; preschool from 8 to 11 a.m.; and pre-kindergarten from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. The academy follows the Dickinson Public School calendar, and is open on days when DPS is closed with the exception of major holidays.

Operating under a dual license for 30 children— daycare and preschool — Adventure Academy is able to take daycare assistance for the after-school portion, which acts as another way to help families out, Barber said.

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Angie Barber, owner and operator of Adventure Academy, LLC, speaks to members from the Dickinson Area Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors Committee Thursday, Dec. 9, 2021. (Jackie Jahfetson / The Dickinson Press)

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Angie Barber walks through her business Adventure Academy Thursday, Dec. 9, 2021, on the second floor of St. Joe's Plaza. (Jackie Jahfetson / The Dickinson Press)

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Angie Barber, owner and operator of Adventure Academy, LLC, speaks to members from the Dickinson Area Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors Committee Thursday, Dec. 9, 2021. (Jackie Jahfetson / The Dickinson Press)

With a family history in agriculture, Barber is incorporating that into her curriculum by having hermit crabs as classroom pets — which do not pose a sensitivity of pet dander to children. Children will also learn about where their food comes from through science centers. Students will grow their own food, then harvest that produce for their school lunches.

Students will always be tasked with an activity whether it’s completing two crafts a day, participating in music and movement classes or going outside twice daily on the 3,200-square foot playground.

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Barber said she hopes to bring in community key players into the classroom to talk about farming, wildfire prevention, etc.

“I always want children to have fun while learning because if they’re not having fun, they’re not going to learn. You know that’s the reason behind the name of Adventure Academy because I believe that learning should be an adventure.”

The academy already has 16 children, who are all 1-year-olds, on the waiting list. Barber’s next goal is to expand and take over the whole second floor for a license of 64 children. This would allow support two additional class ages — the 2-year-old explorers and the 2.5- to 3.5-year-old junior preschoolers. For more information, call 386-365-7749.

Jackie Jahfetson is a former reporter for The Dickinson Press.
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