The school year may have just begun for most students, but the new preschool and daycare center Magical Rainbow, located on 6614 Broadway in West New York, has been open for business since May. And the center couldn’t have come at a better time, because there have been a limited amount of free in-district preschool centers throughout West New York to accommodate the hundreds of toddlers in the town. So the West New York schools have partnered with Magical Rainbow to let that school catch some of the overflow.
“There are five surrounding schools, and there’s not enough daycare in the area,” said Magical Rainbow owner and director Cynthia Nunez. “We enrolled 38 children the first day we opened, and now we have 71 kids and can only accept four more for the year.”
Nunez’s center has been getting praise from the Board of Education recently. Pre-school programs in general have gotten noticed in town recently because Gov. Christie Whitman visited a new free all-day daycare program run out of the public schools, the first of its kind in the state. But some of the students who applied and couldn’t get in were sent to Magical Rainbow. There are also students who pay to attend. Nunez said that her center is special because she likes to keep its doors open to parents.
“We have glass windows outside looking in to the playroom, and we have open classrooms so at any point, parents can come in and see everything that’s going on,” said Nunez. “Parents are welcome to come whenever they want to see what the children are doing.”
And parents said that both they and their children are pleased with what the see.
“My 3-year-old daughter gets up at 4 a.m. wanting to come here,” said parent Lissett Bito. “When I want to punish her, I tell her she’s not going to go to preschool. She says she wants to live with Cynthia. I knew I liked this place as soon as I saw it.”
And that’s what Nunez said parents have to do to appreciate her school.
“You have to come and see it for yourself,” said Nunez. “You can see the children having a good time, and we get complimented for being very clean and neat.”
Praise has helped create a buzz about the school in the neighborhood.
“The majority of the people who enrolled their children learned about it through word of mouth,” said Nunez. “We advertised very little.”
But one of the features of the center that parents find most important is that it’s equipped with a security buzzer that allows Nunez to monitor the front door.
“I want to see everyone who comes in,” said Nunez. “If a parent or relative comes to pick up one of the kids and I don’t recognize them, even if it’s a father I never met, I ask for identification. I have a 4-year-old and I know what I would want for my child.”
Up to standards
Magical Rainbow receives state funds to follow state-mandated preschool curriculum guidelines. And Nunez doesn’t have any coloring books, because she has the children use their imagination by making their own crafts. Board of Education Director Adrienne Sires said Magical Rainbow is a good center for West New York.
“I’ve visited there twice, and I was very pleased with what I saw,” said Sires. “I like the way the classrooms are separated, and I like that there’s a gross motor playroom. We don’t have an area in town for the kids to practice their gross motor skills, and they do. They’re really preparing the children for kindergarten, and they’re using our curriculum. The teachers are certified, and the daycare meets all the Board of Ed. requirements.”
But Nunez said what really makes a difference is that she, the owner, works at the center.
“I participate a lot with the children,” said Nunez. “I’m not a stranger to their environment, and I know what the teachers are doing. I greet all the parents every morning, and I know all the kids her by the first and last names.”
Pre-school teacher Madeline Sanchez said she likes coming to work everyday.
“It’s a nice place, and my co-workers are like a family,” she said. “The kids are still getting adjusted, but they like it and they’re having fun. We’re all having fun with them.”
In addition to a day care, the center also offers an after-school program.
P.S. 4 seventh grader Stephanie De La Rosa comes to the center every day after school.
“It’s good, because they help with you your homework,” said De La Rosa, 12. “The teachers are good, and they won’t let you leave until it’s done, but it’s fun here.”
Magical Rainbow has five classrooms, one of which often gets converted into a playroom. There are 15 children to a classroom, led by two bi-lingual instructors. Breakfast, lunch and a snack are provided, and more than an hour is dedicated to nap time.
The center is open from 6:45a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, call Magical Rainbow at 869-6550.