Mara has been the director at HOPE Academy for almost 15 years. She was raised in Lexington, SC and graduated from USC with a degree in Elementary Education. Her husband spent nine years in the Air Force and they enjoyed living in Florida, Delaware, Oklahoma, Germany, and Virginia before coming home to South Carolina. Her husband now works full time at McEntire Air National Guard. Mara has worked in daycares, YMCA after school programs, and a christian mother's day out program before coming to HOPE Academy as a teacher. She taught the twos for a few months before taking over the four year old class. She took time off to have the last of her four children and came back as the director. Mara has three boys ages 23, 20, and 17 and her daughter is 15. Mara and her family are active members here at HOPE Baptist Church and she enjoys scrapbooking, walking, and reading in her spare time.
Sandy Crider is the Assistant Director. She has been at the Academy for 14 years as the lead teacher in the Fours program. This summer she finally agreed to step into the office! Sandy is originally from Germany, but has lived in the USA for the past 28 years. Sandy has her ECD 101 and is currently working on a degree in Early Childhood Education from Midlands Tech. She has three grown daughters that live in Virgina, Colorado, and Germany, so she enjoys traveling to see her family. Sandy also enjoys cooking and reading in her spare time and she and her husband worship at SeaCoast Church.
Infant Room (Tadpoles)
The Tadpole room is a very busy place. We have up to 10 babies ranging in age from 6 weeks to 10 months. Trying to keep all the babies fed and in dry diapers is a full time job! Somehow, we find time to play with the babies, snuggle with them, have a Bible lesson, and work with them to reach their next milestone in between naps! Before they leave our classroom they will be sitting up on their own, mobile, and starting to each table food. We use the Bright Baby Curriculum in this class.
In the Caterpillar room we have children 10 to 17 months old. We encourage our babies to become more independent toddlers. We help them learn to communicate in ways other than crying. We use a great mix of High Reach Learning Curriculum for Toddlers and the Bright Baby curriculum for infants 9-12 months. We learn about Creation and Noah's Ark in the Transition room. We try to squeeze all this in between diaper changes, feedings, and nap time of course! By the time our new toddlers leave our classroom they will be drinking out of a sippie cup, walking well, eating table food, and down to one nap a day on a kinder mat.
Toddler Room (Ladybugs)
Our ladybug room (17-24 months) is crucial here at HOPE Academy. This is the time when our toddlers further their independence. Our toddlers are learning to use their words to communicate and practice controlling their own bodies. We introduce our toddlers to new concepts through our High Reach Learning Curriculum designed for children 12-24 months. Our toddlers learn through monthly themes such as buildings, textures & fabrics, and wings & things that fly. Each monthly unit features a new book, puppet, rhymes, songs, activities, and crafts. Our Bible lessons are from Group Publishing's Play and Worship series which teaches toddlers the way they learn best...by doing! It includes colorful, age appropriate lessons that get the little ones worshiping God and knowing Jesus through movement and fun. They will discover Bible truths through intentional play by utilizing toys they have in their classroom. We know our toddlers grow by leaps and bounds during this very important year and do our best to keep up with them!
Young Twos (Bumblebees) and Older Twos (Monkeys and Bears)
Our twos classes are full of fun and excitement. Some of the goals in these classes are to enhance their social skills, help them develop their verbal skills, how to follow directions the first time, and of course, potty training. We use the High Reach Learning Curriculum that is designed for two year olds. The children work on developing background knowledge, developing social skills and self-regulation, developing their curiosity in the world around them, increasing their use of words and understanding of symbols, and developing healthy minds and bodies. The High Reach curriculum does all this thru monthly themes that incorporates a new book, puppet, rhymes, songs, activities, and crafts. Our twos use Group Publishing Hands on Bible Curriculum.
Threes (Owls and Birds)
The Three year old class is our student's introduction to the A Beka curriculum. A Beka is a structured, phonics based, Christian curriculum. This curriculum consists of three major parts: Bible study, phonics (which includes language development, poetry, and music), and numbers. By the end of the year these students should be able to recognize names and sounds for the entire alphabet. Three year olds should be able to count to 30 and recognize the numbers 0-15. The threes are considered academic classrooms with homework and binders just like the big kids they are becoming. Children are expected to follow simple directions and must be potty trained.
Fours (Butterflies and Lions)
Our Fours class is a more structured environment as the children build on their phonics knowledge with the A Beka curriculum. The Bible stories become more detailed and they memorize many scriptures including The Lord's Prayer and The 23rd Psalm. The fours not only learn how to write but also how to read this year. Number learning expands to recognition of numbers 1-20, counting to 100, and touches on addition and learning how to tell time. The children still have fun with center time where they can focus on fine motor development.