Merilee Warde has spent nearly the last 20 years of her life as an educator on the Georgetown Divide. Just a few short months ago she made a decision to open an after-school program for children.
Cool Learning Center, which opened Aug. 21, at 2968 Highway 49, Suite D, across from American River Pizza, aims to make the most out of a child’s school day, especially for parents who work until 5 p.m. or later and have difficulty getting home to their children when school lets out.
“I saw a real need for children to have a place to complete homework assignments and have full comprehension of what they had learned,” said Warde. “It’s been flowing beautifully since I decided a few months ago to launch this and I’ve had incredible support.”
Warde has been married for 18 years, and between her and her husband, a chiropractor in Auburn, they share seven children.
“My life has been dedicated to children. For 10 years I taught fourth grade in Coloma at the Outdoor Discovery School, an experiential learning program. Then, I substituted for grades kindergarten through eighth in the classroom for five years, in both El Dorado and Placer counties and then, for the last three years, I have taught preschool and an after-school tutoring program.
“My favorite thing about kids is how spontaneous they are, and completely adaptable,” she continued. “I am always amazed how they can go from school, to home care. They are in the moment, open and they love to learn. But the toughest thing about working with kids, in terms of tutoring them, is when they are very resistant and don’t want to do their homework.”
The Cool Learning Center is currently structured as an after-school program. The bus drops the kids off at the Cool Deli, (the kindergarten through third grade bus drops off at 2:40 p.m., and other grades at 3:30 p.m.).
Warde will walk to pick up the children and bring them to her facility.
Students will have the opportunity to work on homework in a group setting and also participate in various activities until 6 p.m.
At this time Cool Learning Center is open to 10 children, but with interest Warde is prepared to hire an additional aide.
“The community has brought to my attention the fact that there’s also interest for kids who aren’t in school,” she said. “A mother with a 3-year-old had shared that there is a huge need for drop-in service so Moms can go to the gym, yoga or spin class for an hour. I am looking into opening from 10 a.m. to noon for kids 1-4 years old.”
A certified Miracles Coach, Warde has counseled and taught all different ages and learning environments, and offers counseling and coaching. The remodel of the facility cost nearly $7,000 and features a top of the line interior with hard wood floors, natural lighting and is decorated like a living room.
“It wasn’t just about homework,” Warde said. “The interior design was important because I believe kids deserve to be in a place that’s clean, comfortable and relaxing, almost like coming home to their own house. It’s not another school setting with a desk and fluorescent lights.”
Offering advice for parents who are struggling with their kids at home, Warde said, “Give children who are struggling at school a lot of attention. If you spend that time with them, they will surprise you and themselves. They need the one-on-one to feel valued, acknowledged and appreciated for their efforts.”
With regard to the environment at Cool Learning Center, Warde said, “Parents can really feel assured that when the kids leave school they will come to a very fun place where they can relax and focus on their homework, and will achieve academic success. Their children are going to make the best of the day.”
Fees are based on a full-time, part-time or drop-in schedule. The service is also available for minimum days, holidays and snow days when school is shortened or not in session. During these days there will be more creative time than homework.
For more information about the Cool Learning Center contact Warde at 530-351-2310 and request a tour of the facility and an information packet.