Preliminary orientation was held Monday for 17 personnel who will staff the new Child Development Center at Ranger College Erath County Center.

Teachers, instructional aides and even a registered nurse were on hand for their introductions to Heather Haile, who was named director of Ranger’s childcare program on June 1.

In addition to the college’s curriculum-driven childcare program, open to the public for children ages 12 months through age 5, Ranger College is still enrolling students in three courses in childhood development.

Those students, studying under adjunct teacher Haley Wilkerson in the associate degree program, will learn through observation of the children in the childcare facility.

Haile is excited about getting started, with a projected opening date of Sept. 5 for the child care facility. It will accommodate as many as 75 children. Haile will oversee both the instructors and the curriculum.

“This gets me back to my first love, as an educator and empowering people with education that enriches their lives and everything around them,” said Haile, who taught in Stephenville schools for more than 10 years before an extended stint as a local business owner. “I always knew I was destined to be a teacher. I’m glad to carry on something that matters to the community.”

Haile’s return to teaching was actually last year, in Comanche. She has a master’s degree in educational leadership and a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies from Tarleton State University.

Kyndle Kellam, a former De Leon resident, is enrolled in the local cosmetology classes at RC and plans to have her two young children — both under 3 — enrolled in the childcare program while she is learning a trade.

“It’s great. It gives the kids more learning development than most courses,” Kellam said. “The college students will see how the kids are learning.”

Christina Sullivan, who will teach the toddlers in the program, said, “It’s exciting to be in it from the ground up. It’s a new foundation for the community.”

Sullivan also noted that it’s needed, from the public perspective.

“Last year, all the daycares (in Stephenville) were full, and there was a waiting list,” Sullivan said. “So I can see that there’s a need.”

Judy Kennedy, who will be an instructional assistant in the childcare program, agreed.

“You see the need for the childcare,” said Kennedy, who has two children and two grandchildren. “I want to know who’s going to have my children, because day care is going to have them longer than you do.”

Financial assistance for parents interested in enrolling their children in the childcare program is available through Workforce Solutions, Haile noted.

For more information, Haile can be reached at the Child Development Center by phone at 254-968-1070, or by email at: cdc@rangercollege.edu.

The Child Development Center is next to the Ranger College Stephenville campus, 1835 W. Lingleville Road.