NEW TAMPA – Sara and Bobby Singh’s dream in now a reality.
Since the day their daughter, Ajuni, was born five years ago, the University of South Florida graduates envisioned opening a school for her and other pre-school and school-aged children that would build upon their innate curiosity and nurture their creativity.
But first and foremost, the learning center had to focus on fun.
Following a great deal of research they are convinced they’ve finally found what will be a perfect fit, not only for Ajuni, but for youngsters as young as three months and up through age 10.
On Aug. 12 the couple opened the doors and welcomed close to 80 enrollees to the new Creative World at 10693 Cross Creek Blvd.
The facility’s nine separate classrooms cater specifically to infants, toddlers, preschoolers, prekindergarten children and school-age youngsters who take part in the center’s after-school program.
It is the 22nd franchised center of the corporately governed and family-owned company founded in 1970 and headquartered in Missouri.
Director Sarah Morris, who holds a bachelor’s degree from USF in education and was formerly a YMCA regional childcare director, said the school’s three basic philosophies – education, exploration and enrichment – are intertwined throughout the curriculum.
The Exploratorium, considered the centerpiece of the school, is a prime example of that, Morris said.
Located in the center of the building and surrounded by glass-fronted classrooms it contains an eye-catching assortment of age-appropriate interactive opportunities and activities.
“It empowers children to use their imaginations and they rotate through the various stations,” Morris said.
“I had a dream of using play to instill curiosity in children to make them want to learn. It’s a more holistic approach,” said Sara Singh, who’s taken a sabbatical leave from her career as a speech and swallowing pathologist to start the school.
Kety and Felipe Cespedes, who emigrated to New Tampa from the Dominican Republics and live nearby with Felipe’s parents, saw the sign at the site announcing an open house in advance of the school’s opening.
They very much wanted to enroll their 3-year-old daughter, Mia, in preschool. However, their funds are limited because Felipe has only a part-time job.
Nonetheless, they looked up the school on the Internet and liked what we saw and, in turn, decided to attend a recent open house. They thought perhaps they could enroll Mia in half-day sessions, if there was such an option.
“They gave us an inside tour and I cannot tell you how impressed we were with the school,” Kety Cespedes said. “We saw the Exploratorium and that was very, very good. They think they are playing but it opens the minds of the kids and makes them learn by their own experience.”
While they we there they entered a drawing for an opportunity to win a 12-month tuition-free grand prize. And to the couple’s utter amazement their entry was the one picked as the winner.
“We are very, very happy and we thank God,” Mia’s mother said.
Maria Booker, who works nearby, said her recent move from St. Petersburg to New Tampa was inspired by the opening of the new Creative World.
“Everybody is so friendly and they have a really neat learning curriculum,” said Booker, who noted she wasted no time in enrolling both of her daughters, a 4-month-old infant and her older sister, who is in the after-school program.
“They will provide one-on-one time with the baby which alleviates my concerns and having just one place I have to go to drop them off and pick them up makes a working mother’s life so much easier.”
New Tampa residents Jonathan and Dorinda Martinez have also enrolled their two children, a 9-month-old son and a 4-year-old daughter.
Jonathan Martinez said there are many features about the school that impressed him, including the hands-on role of the owners and the credentials of its teachers.
“As a former teacher I’ve seen a lot of schools and thousands of children, and a school is only as good as its teachers,” he said.
Jonathan Martinez also likes the concept of the Exploratorium and thinks it’s one that ought to be used in public schools.
“And if you look at the quality of the toys and books you can tell they did not go cheap,” he said. “I have no doubt it’s going to be a good school for our children.”
The school is open from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and provides transportation to and from Hunter’s Green, Heritage and Pride elementary schools.
Visit www.creativeworldschool.com or call (813) 991-5151 for more information.
Joyce McKenzie can be reached at JoyceCMcKenzie@gmail.com.