A new childcare and early learning facility is coming to North Branford, with April Pugliares, founder and president, at the helm.
SmartEarly Learning Centers--formerly, Town & Country Early Learning Centers--is celebrating 15 years in the childcare field. SmartEarly has a proprietary curriculum system written and developed by Pugliares to assure that each child receives an individualized learning experience. It has six levels of age-appropriate programs for students ranging in age from infants (6 weeks to 12 months) to school age (five to 12 years).
With a scheduled opening date of August 6, Pugliares was gracious enough to answer questions from Patch.
North Branford Patch: You background, which includes participation in an entrepreneurial master’s degree program at M.I.T., seems unusual for the head of child learning centers. Can you say why you entered the child learning field?
Pugliares: I come from a family of entrepreneurs. My parents were in the health care field, owning and operating nursing homes. At 13 years old, I would sit at the edge of my dad's desk after school, watch him work and yearn to help him. I knew then I would own my own business someday. I went to college and received a B.S. in marketing, and continue my business education to this day. You could say I have a never-ending thirst for knowledge in my field.
I ended up in the childcare and early education field when my children were born. When my daughter was two years old and I was pregnant with my son, I was yearning to get back into business but feeling adamant that I would not place my children in "daycare.” So I started my own.
North Branford Patch: Why did you choose North Branford for a childcare center?
Pugliares: North Branford has demographics that I believe will support a childcare and early education center. It is important that families find the right fit for their child.
North Branford Patch: What separates the SmartEarly Learning Center from other daycare businesses in the North Branford area? What is your edge?
Pugliares: What differentiates SmartEarly is the educational experience for children. Degreed, certified teachers implement an individual curriculum for their own classroom. Teachers "observe, record, assess & share" the developmental progress each child achieves. Teachers contiually communicate with families in a partnership that places each child's needs first. Quite simply, what SmartEarly has to offer is an individualized educational experience that is different than what is currently offered in the area.
North Branford Patch: Can you elaborate on the special individualized curricula you offer?
Pugliares: Each teacher creates an individual Children's Portfolio for each child in their classroom. The portfolio consists of benchmarks that the child should be striving to achieve at their stage of development. The teachers then create a learning experience plan each week that will include activities that challenge each child in an appropriate way that result in growth, development, learning and personal success.
North Branford Patch: Do you work with children with special needs?
Pugliares: Yes, and we have a strong resource network that allows us to consult with professionals regarding any children with special needs.
North Branford Patch: When parents visit the SmartEarly Learning Center, what will they see?
Pugliares: They will see a team of child care and early education professionals who are authentically passionate about education. They will see smiles, they will see "fully present" teachers, they will see a state of the art facility that has top of the line furnishings, educational supplies, and playgrounds that are absolutely awesome (ours is being placed in the company's showcase catalog!) They will see an investment of 15 years of commitment to the education of young children, coupled with an investment of $1.8 million in a center that hopes to be part of the North Branford landscape for years to come!
North Branford Patch: Can you tell us something about your children?
Pugliares: Yes, I am the proud parent of Sydeny Zeferina, a recent Miss Porter's School graduate—she’ll be off to Holy Cross College this fall—and Zachary, a student at Choate Rosemary Hall. Both are alum of SmartEarly!
North Branford Patch: I believe you live in Chester. What are among your most positive experiences here?
Pugliares: Yes, I live in Chester. I am a Connecticut native and am a New Englander through and through. I think Connecticut is a wonderful place for families where you are able to experience the beauty of the four seasons, and salt-of-the earth people with strong commitment to family values.
Open Houses for the SmartEarly Learning Center will be Friday, Aug. 3, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 4, 9a.m. - 5pm, and Saturday, Aug.11, 9 a.m.- 5 p.m.
Families may also call 1-855 -KIDS-321, and speak with Kathy or Carly to schedule a private pre-opening visit.