Divine Hands Preschool and Learning Academy celebrates LaPlace opening
For more than 10 years, Shannon Guillory of LaPlace dreamed of opening a daycare that would provide a clean, safe and educational environment to foster early childhood development.
Her experiences as a mother guided her to decide which services she’d want for her own children, and on Aug. 7, Divine Hands Preschool and Learning Academy opened at 320 Belle Terre Blvd. in LaPlace.
The new business celebrated its official entrance into the community Thursday with a ribbon cutting and a blessing from Pastor Steve O. Allen of Destiny Christian Center in LaPlace.
Open 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays, Divine Hands offers Saturday care, experienced instructors, summer camps, live video monitoring, Spanish classes and healthy meals to families in the River Parishes.
The business caters to children ages 6 weeks to 4 years old, functioning primarily as a daycare for the infants and transitioning into a preschool as they grow.
Guillory said preparatory learning begins with children as young as 1 year old. While learning through play, babies are introduced to colors and basic sign language.
Teachers read to toddlers regularly to encourage early childhood literacy, according to Guillory, who said she’s seen children start reading as early as 2 years old when given the foundation and practice.
Guillory said introducing preschool age children to letters, numbers, sounds, colors and signs prepares children to be successful at the elementary level.
She said she saw a need to promote education when she moved to St. John the Baptist Parish from Kenner.
“We’re preparing them for kindergarten at an A level,” Guillory said. “That’s really my goal: I want this to be the school to go to. My vision is for kindergarten teachers to say they can tell the students who came from Divine Hands because they’re so smart.”
Co-director Robyn Perkins, Guillory’s sister, said they each have an affinity for working with children because of their shared experience growing up as caregivers of the family.
“I feel that you can’t be in the business just to be in the business,” Perkins said. “You have to have a passion for caring for children. I’m not the kind of person who’s going to treat any kid differently than my own.”
She said attentiveness and a caring heart build the foundation for successful childcare.
“It’s the minor details that make a difference, like making sure they have blankets or that their nose and hands are clean,” Perkins said.
Teachers and staff members are hired based on their passion for working with children and their capacity to provide loving care with an educational focus.
“Know that your child will definitely be loved,” Guillory said.
“We give each child 100 percent. If there’s something parents feel we’re missing, they can give us a call and we’ll address it.”
Approximately 40 children are currently enrolled in Divine Hands, and with licensing making it possible to accommodate 148 people, there is still plenty of room to grow.
Perkins said starting off small has been good for the business and has allowed them to determine the most efficient schedules and practices.
There are plans to reach more people through mail and word of mouth, but Perkins believes experience is the most important factor.
“It starts with the children and the parents,” Perkins said. “The kids already trust us. The parents see their progress, and that will help us expand.”
Enrollment is open to anyone who stops by the business and picks up an application.
For more information, details on pricing or a tour of the facility, call 985-359-0101.