In a world ruled by good people, all children would have the same educational opportunities and resources they needed regardless of socio-economic status. At Community Knights, we share that message with our partnership with the Downtown Hampton Roads Child Development Center. Their goal is to provide a quality, diverse educational experience for children ages 6 weeks to 4 years old. What’s incredibly unique about this group is that they operate on a sliding-scale tuition rate based on income, rather than a flat rate price. This is done to ensure that any and all interested parents and children may have the opportunity to join the DHCDC community, which includes their Curriculum and Resource Coordinator, Sharifa Louis. We sat down with her to discuss the values of her organization, along with the exciting things they’ve been working on as of recently.

The DHCDC will be getting a new and improved library, made possible entirely by volunteers. However, Ms. Louis was most excited to discuss what their curriculum committee has been cooking up behinds the scenes. “We’re looking to use STEM and STREAM activities, as they focus on science, technology, etc. We want to challenge the children to create in innovative ways. One of our challenges is to make sure we promote diversity in the classroom, so we purchased a puppet-doll kit that was aimed at that. It includes a globe, puppets that represented people from countries around the world, and informational cards for each puppet that they could go over in the classroom. It also came with books from all those places included in the kit. It was a great way to meet the needs and standards of the classroom but also bring diversity in new ways.”

DHCDC follows the guidelines of the Virginia Quality Initiative, and their rules are very specific. It goes as far as to specify how many books are available in each classroom and what genres they are, as to make sure that children have access to any and everything they could possibly need for the most enriching educational environment. That’s where Community Knights came in. “We’re a non-profit. We use what we have”, said Ms. Louis, “but that’s why we applied for the grant. We assessed what the teachers needed in their classrooms, created a list of what was needed, and then Rachel wrote the grant. The teachers were so elated because the pressure was off them.” The teachers who roamed the halls even during the summer heat were more than happy to be there, and the smiles found on the students of DHCDC show the quality of education being provided at this institution.

However, the staff wants parents to know that this is not a daycare, but a learning center. Their mission is to provide them with learning opportunities as well as creative outlets, and specifically target children who may need more attention and preparation for public school than others. Ms. Louis said “sometimes children have developmental issues, and we are connected to people with resources if we need them. We meet with families and can bring in professionals to observe and get them the appropriate help they need. I love when we can help not just the child but the whole family.” Community Knights is proud to promote early learning and educational development within our own community, and the DHCDC is staffed with the finest and kindest learning staff you could ever ask for, located in our backyard!