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Students by day, beloved caregivers after school
September 14, 2018

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The Little Knights Learning Center (LKLC) employees a staff of full-time and part-time caregivers to watch over infants to grade school children from early morning to the late afternoon. Among the dedicated staff are four high school seniors that come before and mainly after school to spend time with the children and have fun while their at it.

Emma Alpers, Tori Hadachek, Mackenna Hatch and Rachel Hellman each have their own little reasons for applying and ultimately accepting part-time jobs with LKLC. For Hatch and Hellman, they are considering careers as a nurse and teacher respectively. Alpers and Hadachek enjoy the convenience of working in their hometown. All four, however, love working with kids.

"When I get here for work after school, I go to one of three different rooms to watch the kids," Hellman said. "I might clean up after snack time if they had it. If the kids are doing something wrong, I instruct them to stop. I have them clean up when we need to and go outside when it's nice outside."

The four employees are scheduled between three rooms for different age groups, including infants, toddlers, and grade school children. No one student spends all of her week in one room with one age group.

"The best part for me is getting to work with all of the kids in all three rooms," Alpers said. "Every day, we get thrown into something different and with different kids. I get to make a relationship with every kid."

"They are like assistant teachers, so they relieve our full-time employees in the afternoons," Mackenzie Derby, the Daycare Director said. "They watch the kids like a regular employee does, but they are also responsible for cleaning up the rooms at the end of the night."

And much like the other employees, there are expectations and trainings they each have gone through already and still must conquer.

"Before we started, we all had to take first aid and CPR classes," Hadachek said. "We're all in the process of taking 12 hour classes on changing diapers, discipline and other subjects. A lot of it is common sense, but time consuming."

While the day may consist of games, outside time and snacks, it's not all easy for staff members when a child decided to misbehave. Proper discipline is part of their training, but not their favorite part of the job.

"One of the difficulties for me is punishing the kids because I really don't want to," Hatch said. "If they do something bad or don't listen, I have to give them timeout. Learning names is also kinda hard."

"We're so used to be around kids our age or adults, not young kids all the time," Alpers adds. "When they don't listen, it's hard to get them to, but you learn ways to get them to listen over time. I'm used to babysitting one-on-one, but a larger group of kids is different with getting them to listen, especially if they others are egging on the troublemaker."

But for all four girls, this job isn't a nightmare of diaper changing and listening to crying all day. It's an experience that allows them to spend time with the kids and have a job that works for them.

"It's a fun, convenient job here for me living in Dysart," Hadachek said. "I also love working with kids here at the daycare. The staff works around my school schedule to make it possible for me to work and study."

Not only do they get to work with the staff and the kids, but the longtime friends also get to spend quality time with one another.

"Working with Kenna, Tori and Rachel has been really fun because we all grew up together," Alpers said. "We haven't all done the same things through high school, but when we're here we get to work together."

And each day they come to work, they have excited kids ready to see them and perhaps play with them.

"Our kids absolutely love the girls," Derby said. "They've seen them around town, at the pool, and know who they are. They get excited when say 'Emma's here!' or 'Tori's here!' because it's someone fun and new for them."

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