The Grove City Christian Child Care Center marked its 30th anniversary Aug. 28.

CORRECTION: The print and previous online version of this story incorrectly quoted Tina Skaggs as saying the school had a Pentecostal curriculum.

The Grove City Christian Child Care Center marked its 30th anniversary Aug. 28.

Four staff members have been with the center since it opened its doors, including Kim Scott.

Thirty years is a long time, said Scott, who retired as an instructor last year but still works in the kitchen at the center, which is a program offered by and at the Grove City Church of the Nazarene on Hoover Road in Grove City.

It's long enough to have attended the weddings of several students who were in her class when they were 4 and 5 years old, but nowhere near long enough to break the bonds she formed with those youngsters -- now adults.

"They still call me 'Miss Kim.' They tell me how much the time they spent in our program meant to them," Scott said.

"We have kids here 10 and a half hours a day," said Tina Skaggs, who worked in the center's office for 18 years before becoming the program's director four years ago.

"When you spend that much time with children, especially young children, they become like family," she said.

Carol Burdette, another staff member who has been with the program since day one, works as a pre-kindergarten teacher.

"What's special for me is seeing the different children from the same family go through your classroom over the years," she said.

"When I started here, my daughter was 3 and she came with me to the program," Skaggs said. "She went on to Grove City Christian School. Now, as an adult, she's 25 and the same people she got to know in our preschool program still get together for small-group activities. They are kind of doing life together."

The childcare program opened in 1989 at 2996 Columbus St. with 50 students, Skaggs said.

In recent years, the program was split with children ages 6 weeks to 12 years old enrolled at the Columbus Street location and other youngsters ages 3-12 participating at the church's main campus on Hoover Road.

In June, the program consolidated into the location at the main campus.

"It's been helpful for everyone to be all in one place," Skaggs said.

Currently, about 50 staff members are serving just under 400 children, she said.

The care center has space for 32 infants and also offers classes for toddlers, 3-year-olds, ages 4 and 5 and wrap-around programs for children enrolled in kindergarten and above kindergarten grades.

"One of our main goals is to prepare students for their academic life," Skaggs said.

"At that age, you want to make learning fun," Burdette said.

"If we can get them to start loving school in our program, it's going to set them up to be ready to be engaged in school," Skaggs said.

Academics are important, but the center is about more than just the ABCs, she said.

"We teach from the Pinnacle Curriculum, which has a Bible-based component along with academics," Skaggs said.

"This is more than just a job for me," Scott said. "This has been a way to be part of the ministry of my church. It means so much for me to be able to pray with the children and their parents if they're having a tough time or facing a tragedy.

"That's something you can't do in a regular child-care program," she said.

In addition to Scott and Burdette, Marcy Garner and Shirley Mauger have been with the program for 30 years. Garner and Mauger retired as full-time instructors, but both serve as substitutes.

At least 10 other staff members have been with the program for at least 25 years, Skaggs said.

"There can be a lot of turnover in the childcare industry, but I think part of the reason why we have such longevity is, like Kim said, our staff feels like they're involved in a ministry here," she said. "We think that teaching children about faith is an important part of their education."

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