Marissa Harris’ inspiration for her new Angel Wings Learning Center was her own day care experience growing up.
Irene and Roy “Papa” Phillips ran the day care where Harris went.
“I got so close to them, I called them my grandparents,” she says.
Harris started helping them with the other children.
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“That’s what got me interested in it.”
Now Harris is opening her day care inside Woodland Lakes Community Church at 770 S. Greenwich on Tuesday.
Harris, who has a master’s degree in educational psychology, has been doing in-home day care for three years.
“I was actually wanting to be a school psychologist initially.”
She says she changed her mind because she says she didn’t want to simply test children.
“I really wanted to be able to be hands-on with the kids.”
Her home day care could not have more than 10 children.
“I was always getting calls,” Harris says of more and more parents.
Her sister-in-law, Alexandria Harris, also had a home day care that was full, and her mother, Jennifer Quillin, worked at a day care center.
“Why don’t we just put this together?” Marissa Harris says she finally said. “I wanted to make a greater impact, too.”
She says she had been looking at ways to expand when she went to vote at Woodland Lakes and was delighted to find some vacant space that she thought would fit her day care well.
It will be in about 2,000 square feet and be licensed for up to 60 children.
Harris says she’s starting out with three rooms for 26 children and will open more rooms as she needs them. She’ll take children from two weeks to 12 years.
The Christian-based day care will let teachers create their own lesson plans and also will have some of what Harris calls traveling topics, such as music and physical education.
“It adds a little variety to the day,” she says.
While getting her degree, Harris took classes in play therapy.
“We’re going to focus on children learning through play.”
Harris and her husband, Jordan, have two small children, and he owns Harris’ Dream Clean in addition to helping his wife start the day care.
“It’s been quite the challenge,” Marissa Harris says of managing everything.
“God’s helping us get through it one step at a time.”
Harris says the late Irene Phillips also is the inspiration for the day care’s name because she used to collect angel figurines.
“I actually have all those angels now in my house,” Harris says. “I wanted to incorporate her into it somehow.”