New Child-Care Center in Urbandale Enrolling Students
The Magellan Academy has taken over the space vacated a year ago by Imagination and Education Station.
The Magellan Academy, an award-winning provider of Christian academic excellence since 1999, is enrolling students at its state-of-the-art childcare center in Urbandale, according to a news release.
The remodeled 16,000-square-foot space at 2955 86th St. near Interstate 80 uses the space that housed Imagination and Education Station. That child-care center closed abruptly amid allegations that its owner couldn't meet payroll.
The Urbandale site is the first Iowa location for The Magellan Academy, which offers a learning environment for children ages 6 weeks to 12 years.
With learning centers in Florida, Arizona, and now Central Iowa, each Magellan Academy employs a caring staff of trained and certified child-care providers, a school nurse, and free WatchMeGrow Internet cameras to help ensure the health, wellness and safety of students, the news release said. The Urbandale campus is the largest of The Magellan Academy’s learning centers, and will serve families in Urbandale, Johnston, Clive, Grimes, Waukee, West Des Moines and surrounding areas.
A student library, media room and a computer lab help reinforce the age-appropriate programs presented by Magellan Academy teachers, each of whom are thoroughly screened, hand selected and properly trained to provide an unparalleled opportunity for learning in a child’s formative preschool education, the release said.
“The majority of our 4-year-olds could go on to first grade because they are already reading and writing,” says Thomas Blitch, founder and president of The Magellan Academy. “Employing both a qualified director and school nurse allows our educators to focus on teaching as the entire staff works together to encourage the health, safety and spiritual growth of our students.”
A brand new school bus with air conditioning and individual seat belts is available to transport children to and from The Magellan Academy, where each day they are served hot and fresh meals prepared in a modern kitchen and served in a student cafeteria. Affordably priced to meet every budgetary need, The Magellan Academy will beat any for-profit childcare center’s verifiable rate by $5 a week, the release said.
Magellan students learn in facilities sanitized by a professional cleaning service, and two cameras installed in each classroom allow parents and the family members they select to watch the development of their children over a secure Internet connection in real-time.
Elizabeth Boyer, director of the Urbandale campus, says corporate administrators handle the day-to-day accounting and other back-end office functions of The Magellan Academy, which allows more sets of trained eyes to be placed on the academic achievement, spiritual development and overall well being of children.
“We have high expectations of our educators and staff,” Boyer says, adding that each teacher is required to maintain CPR and First Aid certifications. “The Magellan Academy strives for excellence and we only hire the best.”
An award-winning Florida Christian child-care center is opening in Urbandale in the old Imagination and Education Station on 86th Street.
Imagination Station closed nearly a year ago in a flurry of controversy. Employees picketed the center's owner saying they hadn't been paid for weeks, the center closed and dozens of families were suddenly left without care.
What was bad news for Imagination and Education Station became good news for The Magellan Academy, a Florida-based Christian child care and private school business.
Thomas and Lorrie Blitch, retired naval commanders, who've been operating the child-care centers for 16 years, had been looking for opportunities to expand the two centers they own in Jacksonville.
Magellan's Florida centers consistently have been rated second and third in an annual survey of northeast Florida parents for Best Childcare Center and Best Private School, said Thomas Blitch.
Last year, a commercial real estate broker they had been working with in Phoenix who moved to Des Moines, called to tell the couple about the Imagination Station property.
The owner of the commercial building, Ladco Development, is suing Imagination Station owner Theresa Mulhern for more than $4,000 in back rent, according to court records. Furthermore Ladco has its own financial problems.
Blitch said that acquiring the site at a reasonable cost means that Magellan can keep child-care rates comparable to other centers' rates. Urbandale has five child-care centers, eight preschools, 31 registered child development homes and 37 day-care homes that are not registered, according to statistics kept by Child Care Resource and Referral of Central Iowa.
Blitch said the space "needed some renovation and we needed to Magellan-ize it."
One of the hallmarks of Magellan centers is they are very clean, he said. The company's website notes that children always eat meals and snacks in the center cafeteria, not in their classrooms.
The center also has cameras in classrooms so parents can get online and watch their child at any time of day. There is no fee for this. Every center has a nurse on site.
"The Magellan Academy is unabashedly Christian," its website says. "Christian values and traditions are taught to the children. The Magellan Academy believes that to attempt to educate children without providing a moral compass is like setting a ship to sea without a rudder."
However, the academies are not affiliated with any denomination or church, and Blitch says "The Magellan Academy is not a theological institute."
"Age–appropriate instruction includes being loving and caring neighbors to all, to love others as themselves, to know, honor and carry out The Ten Commandments, to conserve and protect the tremendous gift that God gave in the Earth, to know right from wrong and to seek righteousness, and to be honest, responsible and respectful," is how the web site describes the religious teachings.
Urbandale will be Magellan's fourth site. The company recently opened one in Greenfield, Ariz.