BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
WEST POINT – She wants to the be “the top dog” in early childhood education, and she’s got the pedigree and passion to make it happen.
Asia Millizer, a former staffer with Head Start out of Community Action of Southeast Iowa is the new owner of the Little Scholars Preschool in West Point.
She purchased the early education center from Jill Kruse in June and is well on her way to reopening the business to service families in southeast Iowa.
Millizer was with Head Start for the past five years as an instructional coach for all Head Start and Early Head Start classrooms in four southeast Iowa counties, and said she “absolutely loved it”.
“I’m very passionate about their mission, but it’s always been my dream to have my own place and my own preschool. When I found out Jill was going to be closing I reached out to her… and here we are,” Millizer said Tuesday.
Millizer is currently accepting registrations for acceptance into the program and is going through the proper licensing and Department of Human Services regulations to be able to open in the fall.
In the meantime, she’s offering parents an incentive to check out the new brand. Information on registering can be obtained by emailing Millizer at email@example.com or by calling her at 319-457-1395.
Anyone registering before July 1 will have all registration fees waived and receive a 5% discount on the first three months of tuition. Anyone registering by Aug. 1 will still get the waived registration fees.
The school is located at 311 Avenue D in West Point and has been knows as the Little Scholars Preschool for about 15 years. Millizer is changing the name per a recommendation from DHS to avoid any overlaps. When the school opens in the fall it will be called Little Sprouts Preschool.
Millizer said the name is similar because she wants people to know that Little Scholars was a high quality early education program, and she plans on continuing that tradition in a county where high quality child care is in demand
“Lee County has a real need for child care and quality programming and Little Scholars has a history of providing that,” she said.
“I looked at other options and nothing really struck me as something I wanted to take a chance with, but Little Scholars came along and it seemed like a good fit. We’re very excited.”
She said Kruse and her staff have been wonderful in the transition and she couldn’t imagine the transition without their help.
“They’ve been absolutely wonderful to work with. They’ve been readily available and helped with communication between families and myself.”
Millizer said she has already been looking for associates to hire to keep the ratio of staff to students very small.
“We will follow DHS licensing guidelines for classroom ratios. We’re probably going to hire two associates no matter what, just because smaller ratios are are always better,” she said.
Kruse was forced to close the center following the governor’s declarations around the coronavirus outbreak. Millizer was then made aware of Kruse’s decision to not reopen the center after 15 years serving families in southeast Iowa.
The preschool will be program during the regular school year, but Millizer said she is already in the process of surveying families to see if there are other needs. She said a summer enrichment program is not out of the question at this point.
“The sky’s the limit. Lee County has a lot of opportunity and need and spots are filling up. All people need to do is contact me through Facebook or my email address and I can get them a form,” Millizer said.
“I’m so passionate about early childhood and I’m determined to make this a success. Little Scholars has a reputation of high quality Montesorri Curriculum and other enrichment activities and we’re going to continue that. Were gonna be top dogs in early childhood.”
Those interested can reach Millizer at firstname.lastname@example.org or by text at 319-457-1395. The Little Scholars Facebook page is still at https://www.facebook.com/Littlescholarswp/.
Kruse said she was forced to close on Friday the 13th of all days in March.
“It was kind of a shock. I still had planned on reopening even though I knew my lead teacher was going to retire,” Kruse said. “But as this COVID hit, I started to think maybe this is the time for a new chapter in my life and I didn’t know what it would look like in the fall.”
Kruse said she applied for state grants for gap funding, but was declined for any of the state grants and didn’t really understand that, but said the decision was one she was comfortable with.
She said Millizer contacted her initially through Facebook and the two hit it off.
“She’s going to have no problem taking over the preschool. It’s a Montesorri based program so she’ll get certified for that and should be done by spring.”