A colorful fish tank filled with live versions of Finding Nemo characters is not the only thing that greets visitors when walking into Above & Beyond Preschool. Now under new ownership, the long-standing facility located at 672 Camellia Drive in Royal Palm Beach is updating its educational programs and infrastructure.
Owners Neil Kaufman and Erika Wallace acquired the school in September 2018 and are focused on bringing the newest innovations in early childhood education techniques to the facility. They both see Above & Beyond as much more than day care.
“Preschool is more educational. We strive to get the children ready for kindergarten,” Wallace said. “Day care is more for babysitting. We are making sure they are well rounded, and that includes not only physical and fine motor development, but social skills and character development, as well as the academic part.”
Above & Beyond was already a good school, so Kaufman and Wallace chose to retain the excellent staff. Now the preschool operates under both the Gold Seal standard, the highest achievable in the State of Florida, and they also adhere to national standards with Apple accreditation.
This means not only is the ratio of instructors to children lower than regulations put forth by the Florida Department of Health, but there are also technological opportunities for the children, such as an Apple iPad lab area.
“We are certified by the Early Learning Coalition and offer those programs. We are part of the Strong Minds program, too,” Wallace said. “We also scored very well in our VPK assessments.”
For both Kaufman and Wallace, the success of the children enrolled at Above & Beyond is personal.
“I went from having three children to having 120 children. So, I consider each of them my child in terms of caring for them, protecting them, keeping them safe and helping them,” Kaufman said. “When we transition from one level to another, we don’t just take an infant and put them into the one-year-old class. We’ll bring them in for a half hour, an hour, then two hours, then half a day, and we’ll gradually transition them to the next level.”
The facility opens its doors Monday through Friday from 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and accepts children from six weeks old to VPK throughout the year.
“We have part-time and full-time rates available, and sibling discounts,” Wallace said. “Our clients include professionals like police officers and nurses, so they use the full hours available.”
Most of the clientele is enrolled full time, but there are other options for older siblings, too.
“We offer winter camp, spring break and summer camps for ages six to 12,” Kaufman said. “We also have three vans. We go to six different elementary schools in the area and pick up aftercare kids ages five to 12.”
This gives parents the option to bring smaller children and bigger kids to the same place over the summer. “Junior summer camp is for children three to five years,” Wallace said. “If they are five and in kindergarten, they stay on site, but nobody’s missing summer just because they are not old enough to go on trips.”
Instead of off-site field trips like roller skating and going to the movies for older children, there are on site field trips scheduled. “We had a petting zoo come in about two months ago,” Kaufman said.
Other important characteristics of Above & Beyond include multiple playgrounds all separating children by age for safety reasons, upgrades to the building’s bathrooms, plus the school is a nut-free campus. Even little ones attend programs like Potty College.
“Late two-year-old and early three-year-old [children] have the chance to go to Potty College,” Kaufman said. “Where approximately six kids are separated from the main group and given the chance to go to the bathroom every 30 minutes until they are comfortable with the potty.”
The new owners aim to keep the school on the cutting edge of early childhood education.
“Preschool is changing. We use conscious discipline practices and teach through play,” Wallace said. “Instead of tracing an A on paper, they may trace it in a tray of sand — we want them to feel it. They learn through touch and connect with the subject to reinforce learning.”
The future at Above & Beyond is bright for more than just the children attending preschool.
“Our goal is always to improve, and we are looking at different things to offer like classes on the weekend,” Wallace said. “We are looking to be more a part of the community than just offering really good, quality child care.”
For more information on programs and services, or to schedule a tour, call (561) 793-6533 or visit www.abovebeyondpreschool.com.