When Lashunda Glasgow worked at Rock Bridge High School as an instructional aid in special academics, she loved working with kids. Always has. But the narrow age difference between her and the students was awkward.
“I was [working] in high school, and the kids were, maybe like four or five years younger than me,” Glasgow said. “I was like, ‘I’m too young to be in here.’ Because they’re not even listening to me. They’re looking at me like, ‘You’re a teacher?’ I’d rather work with little kids.”
She then ran a day care center out of her home for four years, until demand outgrew her home’s capacity. In 2016, she expanded. Using her savings, she bought the building that now houses A Galaxy of Stars Child Care Center.
Today, the center cares for 45 children, ranging from infants to 12 years old. There is a virtual learning pod for school-aged kids, and classrooms for the younger children, separated by age.
Glasgow currently has a staff of 12 who teach the children letters, numbers, colors, days of the week and months of the year — the fundamentals. Lessons are taught in English, Spanish and ASL.
Artwork from the lessons are displayed on classroom walls. Bees shaped like the letter ‘B’ — the letter of the week — decorate one wall, for example. Paper flowers with each petal displaying the qualities found in friends came from a lesson on friendship in the 3-year-old class.
“I’ve always said that I feel like we’re really the foundation,” said Tina Rice, lead teacher in the 3-year-old class. “We’re preparing them and getting them ready for other schools. A lot of people look at us like ‘no, they’re just babysitters.’ But we’re educators.”
Most of the children arrive between 7 and 9 a.m. They have breakfast and can play freely until each class sings a welcome song and has circle time.
After that, the students go about the rest of their day. They make arts and crafts, have unstructured play time, eat lunch, do small group activities, take a nap and have a snack. By then, it’s about 3 p.m. The rest of the day is filled with whatever the teachers have planned. By 5:30 p.m., the day is over.
It’s a busy schedule, but it’s flexible and fits what the students need and want, Glasgow said.
When Glasgow decided to open her own center, moving from her garage to her current facility meant hiring staff and performing more paperwork.
Today, she takes on multiple roles. She’s a teacher for students and other teachers. She’s the cook when a substitute is needed. And she’s the boss. Yet, it’s not as hands-on as it used to be.
Rice — whom Glasgow called “the backbone” of the center — tries to keep her classroom exciting and welcoming. With a lifetime of working in child care, Rice said A Galaxy of Stars is more like a family than other centers where she’s worked.
“We give out a lot of love, a lot of hugs,” Rice said. “We treat these kids like they’re ours. We want our kids to be treated safe and loving, you know, and cared for in the best way.”
The family atmosphere is what led parents Devin and Kara Kelley to choose A Galaxy of Stars for their 3-month-old son. Some friends had recommended the center, and they said it took one visit to know it was the day care they wanted.
They liked that A Galaxy of Stars provided children with preschool education, they liked the cultural diversity and they appreciated that the center followed the parents’ lead in caring for children.
Kara Kelley described them as “another set of parents or grandparents.”
While some business owners look to a future delegate for their jobs, that is not Glasgow’s plan.
“I just don’t want to have a day care and someone run it, and I’m just sitting at home,” she said. “That’s not what I signed up for. I signed up because I knew I wanted to be vital in the children’s lives.”