When former students at the Smoky Row Children's Center return for the 25th anniversary celebration this Sunday, many will be greeted by their teachers.

When former students at the Smoky Row Children's Center return for the 25th anniversary celebration this Sunday, many will be greeted by their teachers.

In an industry known for high staff turnover, Smoky Row has bucked the trend. Of the current staff of 27 teachers, ten have been on the staff 14 years or longer.

And preschool teacher Amy Newberger was there when owner/director Judy Chosy opened the center in 1983.

"Just to see Judy's dream come true has been amazing," Newberger said as she looked back on a quarter of a century at the child care center, where thousands of Worthington, Dublin, and Powell children have enjoyed their earliest educational experiences.

They and their families and former staff are all invited to attend the celebration Sept. 28 from 1 to 4 p.m.

There will be lots of reunions and reminiscing, along with pictures, games, and entertainment.

Chosy will be there to welcome back all of those who have been part of her dream over the years.

A working mother herself, she remembers how hard it was to find good child care when her children were young.

"One of my goals was to have a center where people didn't have to worry about their kids like I did," she said.

Chosy has a master's degree in early childhood education from Ohio State University. She began teaching in 1960, worked as a Head Start teacher and taught child development at the college level before opening the center.

She remembers working as a trainer for the state and seeing how depressing some of the child care centers were. She still finds some centers to be unacceptable, and the state's requirements to be disrespectful of children.

For instance, a child care worker need only be 18 years old and a high school graduate, and the state allows that worker to care for up to 14 three-year-olds, she said.

At Smoky Row, teacher-student ratios are kept low. For instance, four full-time workers care for nine infants.

Costs are kept low, in part because the independently owned center does not have to pay a franchise fee, in part because spaces are kept full.

The center is licensed for 236 children. Since some attend part time, approximately 200 are there at any time.

The center serves infants through kindergarten, with a summer program for children through age 10.

The center was one of the first to be accredited, in 1987, by the National Association for the Education of Young Children.

Smoky Row is a training site for various programs, including the OSU master's degree program and for Columbus State College.

That is important to Chosy, but it is the teachers who return year after year that truly make Smoky Row a special place, she said.

"It's a happy place," she said. "The fact that the teachers stay is unheard of in this industry. It's all about the teachers."

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