New owners for child care center, preschool
By Angie Landsverk
A child care center and preschool in Waupaca now has new owners and a new name.
On Oct. 1, Susan and Roger Elandt became the owners of My First Adventure Child Care and Preschool.
Located at 303 S. Western Ave., it was previously called the Learning Cottage of Waupaca Day Care & Preschool.
Deb Hitchcock owned the business for nine years, and Susan worked for her a little more than six of those years.
“She had been grooming me to own my own center,” Susan said. “Wisconsin has the T.E.A.C.H. ((Teacher Education and Compensation Helps) program for early childhood educators. You can go back to school. The state pays part of tuition. The employer pays part, and then you pay a part.”
Susan began taking courses online in the summer of 2013 through Northeast Wisconsin Technical College and completed them two years later, becoming a credentialed early childhood administrator.
Her career in child care started about seven years ago.
Susan first worked in religion education.
She has a master’s degree in religious education from Luther Seminary, in St. Paul, Minnesota.
After working as a Christian education director at churches in Minnesota and Wisconsin, she next decided to apply for a position at a day care.
Susan was living in Marinette at the time and said, “I quickly realized that is where I belonged.”
She enjoyed being a part of the lives of children – watching them learn, grow and discover.
After working there a year, Susan moved to Waupaca and began working for Hitchcock.
When Hitchcock opened a center in Appleton last year, Susan worked there for about 11 months.
“I was able to start that center from nothing and help it build,” Susan said.
She also received more administrative training.
This past summer, Susan asked Hitchcock if she was thinking about pulling out of Waupaca and learned when Hitchcock sold it, she wanted to sell it to her.
“In August, I came back to work in Waupaca and started getting the ball rolling for taking it over,” she said.
In addition to being the new owners of the business, Susan and Roger are also foster parents.
Roger works full time at Waupaca Foundry and will continue to do so.
“The kids call him ‘Mr. Roger,’” Susan said.
He had already been doing some maintenance work at the center and will now do more.
For the past couple years, Susan dreamed about what she would name her own center.
She sees My First Adventure Child Care and Preschool being a fitting name.
This is her first adventure as an owner and often a child’s first adventure outside of the house, she said.
The center is open from 5 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and is licensed for 57 children ages six weeks through 12 years.
“Something new I’m starting right away,” Susan said, “is a half-day rate. I felt the need to add that package to accommodate any schedule.”
She also plans to relax the contract days to allow parents to have more flexibility.
“I want to work with families,” Susan said. “If someone doesn’t have to work a certain day, I don’t want them to be bringing their child just because of the contract.”
Her center has themed classrooms and small class sizes.
Future goals include redoing the playground and starting a summer school program that operates much like a summer camp.
Roger wants to do more landscaping.
Susan said parents and community members are excited for her.
“I think word of mouth will help with enrollment, as well as between being a foster parent, my work at the church and married to an Elandt,” she said as she smiled.