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Three Cheers for 30 Years: Northside Children's Learning Center Anniversary Celebration

On July 14th, 2023, Northside Children's Learning Center in Lenoir, North Carolina, was bustling with excitement as the Blue Ridge Community Action Child Care Center celebrated its 30th anniversary. This nonprofit organization has been at the forefront of providing Head Start, Early Head Start, and daycare services in Caldwell County since 1965. Northside has been making a positive impact on the lives of countless children and families since its inception in 1993. The anniversary celebration not only marked a significant milestone for the center but also served as a heartfelt memorial to those who had passed. BRCA Executive Director Stephanie Ashley attended the event, along with countless current and past staff members, alumni, current families, and community members.

BRCA Executive Director Stephanie Ashley addresses attendees during the 30th Anniversary Celebration

For three decades, Northside has been a beacon of hope for the children and families of Caldwell County. By offering comprehensive early childhood education programs and high-quality daycare services, the center has played a vital role in fostering the physical, cognitive, and social-emotional development of young minds. The child care center owes part of its success to its affiliation with the federally funded National Head Start program. Since 1965, Head Start has provided early childhood education and comprehensive services to children from low-income families. The program aims to ensure that all children, regardless of socioeconomic background, have access to quality education and a solid foundation for future success.

In Caldwell County, the impact of the Head Start program has been significant. Over the past three decades, Blue Ridge Community Action's Child Care Center has helped countless children receive the education and support they need to thrive. From 1993 to 2023, the Head Start program has positively influenced the community in the following ways:

  1. Educational Opportunities: Head Start has provided access to early childhood education, preparing children for kindergarten and beyond. It has emphasized the importance of school readiness, laying the groundwork for lifelong learning.

  2. Health and Nutrition: The program has prioritized the health and well-being of children, ensuring they receive necessary medical and dental care, nutritious meals, and guidance on healthy habits. This holistic approach has contributed to the overall well-being of children in Caldwell County.

  3. Parental Engagement: Head Start has actively involved parents in their children's education, encouraging participation in decision-making processes and offering opportunities for personal growth and development. Through workshops, parent-teacher conferences, and community events, families have been empowered to advocate for their children's education.

BRCA Staff Member Susan Ferguson hugs alumni student

Under the guidance of Stephanie Ashley, the executive director of Blue Ridge Community Action, the childcare center has flourished over the past few years. The center director at Northside, Rhodda Medley, has also helped create an environment where children can thrive, families are supported, and the community comes together to celebrate milestones like this 30th anniversary. Many Northside staff members, such as Brenda Turner, Adele Sprouse, and Christy Galloway, assisted with organizing the event and decorating the hallways with photos and memories. Many families, students, and former and current staff enjoyed touring the center and reflecting on the incredible experiences over the years. Light refreshments were served, and attendees briefly braved the humidity outside to hear a speech from Stephanie Ashley.

Memorial table with poster

As part of the anniversary

celebration, a special memorial was organized to honor the individuals who have played a vital role in the child care center's growth and success but have sadly passed away. Several former Northside students were also honored. This solemn tribute acknowledged the lasting impact these individuals had on the lives of the children and families they served.

Northside Children Learning Center's 30th-anniversary celebration was a testament to the transformative power of early childhood education and community-driven initiatives. The dedication of organizations like Blue Ridge Community Action and the federal Head Start program continues to shape a brighter future for Caldwell County's children. As the center moves into the next chapter of its journey, it remains committed to providing a nurturing and enriching environment for future generations. With the continued support of passionate individuals, both at BRCA and in the local community, the childcare center will undoubtedly continue to make a lasting difference in the lives of Caldwell County's children and families.

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