Former student thankful to return as director
Stephanie Ramon still gets excited about making crafts, playing games and being involved in the variety of fun activities she remembers fondly from the after-school program she once attended. The difference today is the 30-year-old is now in charge of planning the fun and ensuring that children at the Gregg Center in Thomasville experience those same lasting memories.
Ramon was recently named the director of the Gregg Center’s after-school program. It’s full circle for the young leader who attended the exact same program 25 years earlier.
“Just like when I attended the Gregg Center, I want the children to be really excited about being here,” Ramon explains. “It makes me excited to provide them with the same opportunity I had.”
The Gregg Center is a part of Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina’s (BCH) Weekday Education program, which is located in two centers at the Mills Home campus in Thomasville. The state-licensed, 5-star rated centers provide children in the community with educationally-appropriate preschool classes as well as before and after-school programs.
Working at the center she attended as a child is not Ramon’s only connection to the program. Her mother, Nita Jarvis, is a former director at Weekday Education’s Robert Idol Child Development Center, which now houses the Gregg Center. In fact, when Jarvis was an employee, she and her three children lived in a house on the Mills Home grounds.
“This place has been a big part of my life since I was 4 years old,” Ramon says with a smile. “It’s like coming home.”
Since graduating, she has honed her skills as a prekindergarten teacher’s assistant and worked together with preschool children and their families as part of a specialized school readiness program.
She returned to the Gregg Center last summer as a part-time teacher. When the director position became available she didn’t hesitate.
“It was just natural for me to come back here,” Roman says.
The Thanksgiving holiday presented a perfect opportunity for the new director. On Wednesday, Ramon planned a number of holiday-related activities including Mayflower boat races, pumpkin bowling and a Thanksgiving tasting where children sampled a number of traditional holiday fixings.
“The silly games as well as fun learning activities are important,” Ramon says. “A lot of children today don’t have the interaction they need from adults in their lives or other children.”
One of the most moving holiday activities Ramon organized was having the children create a Thanksgiving tree out of colorful construction paper and tracing their hands to make the leaves. With their teachers’ assistance, students wrote something they were thankful for on their leaves.
“There were a lot of things they said that really touched me,” Ramon says. “One child wrote he was thankful to have God in his life. Others were thankful for their moms and dads.”
Ramon isn’t transitioning into her new position at the Gregg Center slowly. She already has plans to produce newsletters created by the children and a myriad of other ideas that will strike a balance of learning and fun.
“I want children to have fun memories they can always look back on.”
Blake Ragsdale serves as director of communications at Baptist Children's Homes of North Carolina.