TULALIP — After 12 years of planning, the Tulalip Tribes have finally opened their doors to the Betty J. Taylor Early Learning Academy.
Taylor, whom the academy was named after, was a Tulalip Elementary School teacher for 33 years. She is revered by the Tulalip Tribes for her passion in educating young children.
The academy is divided into two atriums, with one for newborns to 3-year-olds which can fit 120, and the other for preschoolers which can fit 200, complete with a playground in the middle.
The academy will use the Creative Curriculum to prepare kids for kindergarten, director Sheryl Fryberg said.
“Our dream is that our kids reach kindergarten with the self confidence to be successful in the K-12 system with a strong cultural and academic foundation,” Fryberg said.
Children will learn reading, math and other topics in order to get a head start in learning.
Right now they have 80 people on staff with 10 more positions to fill. Every classroom has a specified topic, with a teacher with an early childhood certificate or degree.
The preschool teachers will work with kindergarten teachers so they know about the kids entering the K-12 program.
It’s been an arduous road because of questions on where to get finances and property for the academy, but Fryberg was pleased the establishment was opened Aug. 7 at 7730 36th Ave NW in Tulalip.
The project cost $18.8 million. But the General council had agreed to put money into it, Fryberg said.
“Our babies are worth it,” she said.
Parents were just as pleased with the opening. Darcy Enick who was excited for her child, King, to start there.
“I’m excited he is going to be here for a while,” Enick said. “He will be able to become familiar with the staff.”
Another parent, Alicia Pacheco was excited for the new space for her two kids to go.
“It will be nice to see them take on more kids,” she said. “I think it will also be a great opportunity to make more jobs in the community.”