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Bright posters displaying shapes, colors and letters adorn the walls. Little red chairs encircle a child-sized table in the center of the room and building blocks and other toys are neatly tucked away along the edge.
This is the fun atmosphere at Neligh's newest preschool, which is set to open later this month. Little Minds Preschool, owned and operated by Chelcy Mooney, is located on the main level of Mooney's home at 611 N St.
Classes are scheduled to begin on Monday, Jan. 21 and will be offered four days a week from 8:15 to 11:15 a.m. Students ages 2-5 may attend Mondays and Wednesdays; Tuesdays and Thursdays; or all four days. The cost is $20 per two-day session.
“I plan to focus on letter sound and recognition, shapes, colors, and also manners,” Mooney said. “We will have lots of movement and singing and stories. And there will be a snack time.”
An open house will be held at Little Minds Preschool on Tuesday, Jan. 15 from 4 to 7 p.m. to give parents and students the opportunity to meet her and get more information. She may also be contacted by calling 402-547-3595 or by emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mooney and her husband Blake, both teachers, moved to Neligh in August with their three children—Hunter, 7; Haylee, 4 and Hank, 18 months.
“We chose to move here because I have family in the area,” she said. Her parents, Chad and Melody Funk, live in Clearwater.
Mooney said her husband has been substitute-teaching at area schools and is seeking a full-time position for next year, while she is starting a preschool in their home.
“I have really wanted to be able to stay home with my kids and I love teaching, so this gives me the opportunity to do both,” she said.
Mooney said several people suggested the idea of a preschool because the school’s program often has a waiting list and is only open to children turning 3 or 4 years old by July 31.
“I know, like my daughter, her birthday is in May, but we don’t want to send her to kindergarten yet,” she said. “So it will be open for those who aren’t quite ready to go to kindergarten. And there are some kids who are 2, closer to 3, that will be ready for something.”
Mooney said her state-licensed facility will able to accept up to eight children, but the presence of her two younger children at home will cut that number to just six this year.
A teacher in Bellevue for 11 years, Mooney has taught “a little bit of everything.”
“I did 4th, 5th, 6th and then my last few years, I was in middle school,” she said. “I was a 7th grade English teacher. And for the last month, I’ve also started teaching Chinese kids English online.”
Mooney is teaching one-on-one, 25-minute lessons on the computer through VIP Kids.
“It’s fun,” she said. “The only downside is it’s on Bejing time, so I have to get up really early, but I’m getting adjusted. You can pick your own schedule. Since I’ve started out, I’ve been doing a little bit earlier, I do from about 4 to 7 a.m. But, I do enjoy it. And that’s with younger kids, anywhere from ages 5 to 11.”
Mooney said she earned her degree in elementary education from Wayne State College and later earned her master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from Doane College. After student-teaching in Bellevue, she began teaching there full-time until May of 2018.
“My favorite part about teaching is when you’re teaching kids something new and they just light up,” Mooney said. “And I feel like with little kids, they wear everything on their faces. Teaching middle school I didn’t always get to see that. So I’m excited to see the preschooler’s little faces so happy and excited to learn.”