St. John's, Rowan Regional day-care centers get five-star ratings

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 21, 2012

By Susan Shinn
For the Salisbury Post
You could say that the St. John’s Child Development Center is not content to rest on its laurels, er, stars.
“A four-star designation is a good designation, and staying there would have been fine,” says Joanna Smith, the center’s director. However, in October 2010, Smith learned from a consultant during accreditation that the center, located at 300 W. Innes St., was quite close to a five-star designation, the highest certification level a childcare center can achieve.
“That’s really what made the decision for us,” Smith says.
In late June, the center received its 5-star certification.
Students and teachers have been celebrating. The announcement was made at the center’s graduation on June 28. The students have had fun drawing, painting, stamping and decorating all sorts of stars, while staff members decorated the center’s lobby with glittery star garland. The St. John’s Lutheran Church office staff made “5-star” mugs for each of the center’s 42 full-time and part-time employees. The center serves some 170 children ages 6 weeks to school age.
There are three components to the child-care licensing process, Smith explains. It works on a 15-point scale, with seven points for the education level of staff, seven points for program standards which include assessment and one quality point earned when procedures and handbooks are in place. Thirteen points and up garners the 5-star designation. The center had attained 11 points during its previous assessment in 2010.
Smith notes that 75 percent of her staff has an associate’s degree or above. Smith has a degree in human resources development and family studies from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and expects to start her master’s degree in the same area next May.
Smith says of the 5-star certification, “It validates what we have already been doing.”
The majority of the center’s families are private pay, and the center receives reimbursement from the state for families who receive assistance — about 25 percent of the center’s clients, Smith says. “The rest, we try to work with.”
The staff, she says, was pleased with the increased certification. “They knew they were already there, doing the things they were supposed to do. This was a recognition of their work.”
Norma Honeycutt agrees. Honeycutt is director of Partners in Learning, a child development center which received its 5-star certification 12 years ago, the first child-care center in the county to do so.
“To move from four-star to five-star is a big deal,” Honeycutt says. “It boils down to leadership. Joanna has come in committed to excellence in early care and education. She’s put the right people in place. She’s focused on developing staff in order to bring that level of quality up.”
The N.C. Division of Child Development and Early Childhood Education posts certifications on its website. Parents can go online and look at ratings, Honeycutt says. “The quality is a step above the others. To parents, this is an indicator of quality.”
Bryan Wymbs agrees. He and his wife, Mary, have two girls, Millie, 6, and Cora, 4, both of whom were at CDC.
The designation, he says, “validates from an outside, unbiased source the center’s teachers, programs and facility. So I think it’s a big deal. It’s something that’s been deserved for a long time.”
Wymbs says that Cora is “absolutely prepared” for kindergarten.
“The teachers are so great,” he says. “We’ve been there for about seven years and we’re really gonna miss the place.”
But it’s time for new experiences and new adventures, he says.
Smith and Honeycutt are part of an active group of daycare directors which meets once a month.
“We have a great group of directors,” Honeycutt says. “We are all striving to provide the best early childhood education possible. Joanna always stands up for what’s right for young children. I like that about her.”
Smith says that there are vacancies in the infant and toddler class. All other ages have waiting lists.
Congratulations also to Pam Baugh, who has been named Rowan County’s Childcare Teacher of the Year by Smart Start Rowan.
For more information about the St. John’s Child Development Center, call 704-636-6756 or email

SALISBURY — The Rowan Medical Child Development Center, affiliated with
Rowan Regional Medical Center, recently received a five-star rating by
the North Carolina Division of Child Development.
This designation, the highest level of achievement for licensed child
care centers, is based on two key criteria: staff education and program
Located two blocks away from the hospital at 519 Best St., the center is
home to 18 child-care providers who oversee 67 infants and children
ranging from 6 weeks to 5 years old. The center has the capacity to care
for 103 infants and children.
“For the past several years, our team has worked hard at achieving this
five-star honor,” said Andrea Mohammad, manager of the center. “A
majority of our child-care providers have advanced degrees including
associates and bachelors degrees.”
Two additional employees are working toward their master’s degrees.
“The teachers are dedicated as our goal is to continuously improve
quality and provide the best education possible for our students,”
Mohammad added.
Hospital employee Jill Makransky applauds the center on the recognition.
Her daughter, Autumn, enjoys each day in a child development program
that blends stimulating educational activities and good old-fashioned
“They have always been a five-star facility in my eyes,” she said, “the
care they provide at the center is loving and nurturing.”
In the seven classrooms at RMCDC, teachers follow the Creative
Curriculum for pre-school students, a program that is nationally known
for being forward-thinking and comprehensive. The curriculum blends
teacher-planned and child-focused learning, which capitalizes on
children’s strengths, interests, needs and learning styles. “By using
Creative Curriculum we are consistently able to provide individual
indoor and outdoor learning opportunities that meet the development
needs of each and every child,” said Mohammad.
Additionally, Mohammad recently received the “Rowan County Child Care
Director of the Year” award at the Smart Start child-care conference and
recognition event held June 9 at Hood Theological Seminary. The award
is given by Smart Start to recognize child-care providers for their
outstanding contributions in early childhood education.
In addition to focusing on education, caregivers at RMCDC ensure there
are lots of interesting activities offered year-round. Spring Flings to
welcome warm weather and sunshine, holiday parties and a slew of other
lively events, including an annual Fall Festival fundraiser that
benefits the Rowan County United Way, allow parents and children the
opportunity to spend time with each other in fun ways.
The center also has a strong connection with the parents of their
students. By forming a parent engagement committee, the center is able
to provide more activities to the children and students. The parent
engagement committee spearheads book fairs, picture days and staff
recognition for the teachers. More recently, the committee and teachers
of the center brainstormed ways to promote health and wellness and
formed a free weight loss support group, “Hope 4 Us” which is open to
hospital employees and the community. “Hope 4 Us” meets Wednesday
evenings beginning July 11 through Aug. 15 from 6:45 – 7:30 p.m. at
Milford Hills United Methodist Church.
“We are so proud of Andrea and the entire staff at RMCDC for all of
their hard work in earning these awards and achievements,” said Don
Sedgley, manager of operations at Rowan Regional, “their daily
commitment continues to increase the quality of care standards for our
Rowan Medical Child Development Center opened its doors in 1980 to
provide a convenient child-care option for the parents within the Rowan
medical community. Today the center cares for children across the
community and enrollment is open to the public.
For more information about the Rowan Medical Child Development Center,
visit or call 704-639-9022.