On a winter day in 1972, two young mothers and a friend met over coffee and the idea of the Shepherdstown Day Care was born. Soon, a board of directors was recruited and two key decisions were made: the Shepherdstown Day Care would incorporate as a non-profit, and the most promising site for the day care was the Eastside School, a vacant but historic building on East German Street. In December 1972, The Jefferson County Board of Education agreed to lease the school to the SDC (the SDC purchased the building in 1980). After significant repairs and renovations, the Shepherdstown Day Care officially opened on Sept. 30, 1973.
Initially, the SDC was licensed to serve 20 children; within two years, however, the license expanded to 40 children and, in 1983, capacity increased to 75 children. By 1995, the SDC was licensed to serve 100 children. As capacity increased, major expansion and renovation of the facility has kept pace. The building of the Ruth D. Brown Infant and Toddler Wing was initiated after a generous bequest from the estate of the late Keith Knost, and completed in 2006 with generous donations from the community. The latest effort is the renovation of the SDC's grounds: landscaping, made possible by generous gifts from Eric and Gloria Sundback, has turned the playground into an outdoor classroom, and the American flag now flies from a flagpole donated by the Packhorse Ford Chapter of the DAR.
SDC Board President Patty Martineau is proud of the steady growth of the Day Care. "From its inception, the SDC has provided compassionate, affordable childcare for the area's working families that's our core but in recent years we've also increased our accreditation with the state and become one of the first partners with the Board of Education to implement the state-mandated Pre-K program.
"We've been keeping an eye on the graduates of this program, and they're doing exceptionally well in elementary school." Susan Offutt, the Principal of Shepherdstown Elementary School, seconds this observation, "Children from the Shepherdstown Day Care Center consistently come to us with well-developed school readiness skills."
One key to the Day Care's success is the staff that serves there. SDC Director Melissa Holman explains "In most day cares almost a third of the staff leaves every year. Here at the SDC, the average full-time staff member has served for nine years, and receives training every year. That experience helps ensure that our children get the best care, and that they leave here with the foundation skills for a lifetime of learning."
Since its inception, the Shepherdstown Day Care has been inextricably intertwined with its community, serving its working families and being supported in its efforts by generous donors. As the SDC celebrates its 40th birthday, it looks back with pride and thanks, and looks forward with hope and excitement.
Those wishing to give the SDC a birthday present, donations can be made at the day care center or at the SDC website (www.shepherdstowndaycare.org) by using the "donate now" button or Anniversary Registry.