‘Lollipop School’ expands day care at Winston Park

‘Lollipop School’ expands day care at Winston Park

Kids get to be creative at Winston Park’s Lollipop School.

Many Winston Park families call it their “best kept secret.”

For more than 30 years residents of 1,451 homes in the community north of Kendall Drive at 132nd Avenue have enjoyed preschool education classes for their children at “Lollipop Pre-School,” operated at the community’s clubhouse.

Founded in 1981 by a group of Winston Park families, the school now wants the nearby area to know the doors are open for others, too, with expanded day care hours to accommodate working parents throughout the area.

In December, the Winston Park Board of Directors approved extending school hours from its former 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily schedule to 7 a.m.-6 p.m.

“The change really should help area families seeking quality education and care,” said Vivian Balthazar, a certified early education teacher for 35 years, with the last 28 directing

Lollipop School. “Lollipop now provides two extra hours each day, free of charge to VPK (voluntary pre-kindergarten) students. That’s an extra advantage over other area pre-school programming,” Balthazar said.

“We’re certified for just over 100 children in the 1 to 5-year age group,” she added, noting that Lollipop is part of the Miami-Dade Schools

VPK program, designed to ensure that children are entirely prepared for success in elementary school grades and beyond, according to its website.

The Winston Park school provides free schooling for 4-year-olds in addition to three hours for under age components of the state-sponsored VPK program.

Winston Park residents are charged $100 per week; non-residents, $125. Monthly cost: $270, 9 a.m. to noon; $350, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Lollipop offers two free hours for VPK students that usually cost parents $240 monthly at public schools, and more at private schools, Balthazar noted.

A participant in the Early Learning Coalition’s “QualityCounts” system that grades pre-schools for excellence.
Lollipop for has earned 4.5 stars out of a maximum 5.0 rating for several years. Lollipop “graduates” often return to Winston Park to serve high school community service hours while parents continue to keep “in touch with our school and help support us in different ways,” she said.

“We encourage parent involvement and offer many activities to provide ways for such involvement,” Balthazar emphasized. “This not only benefits children and the school but unites the community of parents who have a wonderful support system as children grow up.”

For information about Lollipop Pre- School, send email to vibalt33@yahoo.com or call 305-979- 1072.

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