Like most parents, Cyndi R. doesn't like to take chances with her child's wellbeing. By the time her son was 13 months old, Cyndi had interviewed roughly 20 childcare providers—but she noticed something different when she walked into the local KinderCare. The staff here greeted every child by name and, as she peeked into each of the classrooms, Cyndi noticed engaged instructors leading one-on-one lessons. The center's Assistant Director even took the time to answer all of her questions, both before and after she decided to enroll her son.
The thing is, this isn't a unique experience. KinderCare now has more than 1,700 centers, and parents across the country share similar thoughts on their local educators. To hear them tell it, it's the commitment of those teachers that makes all the difference. Twice a year, KinderCare hosts the largest early childhood teacher-training program in the country, and every center pursues national accreditation. All of this translates into the development of social, emotional, physical, and intellectual skills in infants and children up to 12 years old.
That may seem like a lot of skills to entrust a daycare with, but KinderCare is more than just a daycare—in fact, it's better to think of it as a learning center. During daycare, kindergarten, and before- and after-school programs, KinderCare's educators lead activities that focus on six different areas, including math and science, language and literacy, and the art of opening a tricky juice box.
Almost everything in John Gottschalk's life comes back to music. A french horn player since fifth grade, he earned money throughout his teenaged years working at the Gottschalk Music Center location his grandparents opened in 1951. After graduating from college with a music-education degree and teaching a year of elementary-school band, John rejoined the family business full time.
Under John, the company has not only expanded to two locations, but also grown its inventory from orchestra and band instruments to guitars, amps, and DJ equipment. A team of dedicated technicians fix any malfunctioning equipment in-house, while the store's wide selection of band and orchestra instruments are available for monthly rental. Via a team of expert instructors, Gottschalk Music Center even supplies private lessons in everything from guitar and piano to clarinet and ukulele.
An authorized Yamaha Music School, Valley Music Center's instructors illuminate students young and old—from beginners to highly advanced players. Drawing upon methods developed in Japan more than 50 years ago, Valley Music Center's teachers employ a curriculum that combines ear training with singing, playing, reading, and creating music. With this multifaceted approach to music, they strive to teach students of all ages not only how to play piano, guitar, flute, clarinet, or French horn but also how to cultivate a genuine love for what they’re playing. In addition to offering private lessons, they helm group lessons where students can learn from their peers. Students then have the opportunity to showcase their newfound skills during friendly recitals or settle disputes using the age-old method of pianos at dawn.
With eclectic backgrounds, the staff of California Arts Academy brings students their own distinctive expertise and worldviews. They strive to help students not only become better performers, but also positive members of the community. Backed by a cadre of instructors, the duo strives to create a space where kids can freely express themselves through gymnastics and musical theater and can elaborate tap-dance routines that summon the ghost of Fred Astaire. California Arts Academy was also named Favorite for Children's Dance Classes, Art Classes, and Live Theater by the readers of Central California Parent magazine from 2012 to 2014. Not content to just offer classes, the Academy holds semiannual auditions for their performances.
Hidden beneath the guise of games and fun activities, hearty doses of musical education lurk within each piano lesson Donna McGlasson teaches. At her studio, Tickle the Ivories, she guides students aged 5 and older through a comprehensive understanding of traditional piano theory, including note reading and proper technique. For adults, she’s also glad to build a course of instruction around learning to play by ear. A carefully selected syllabus of handouts, books, and other learning materials enhances her instruction and help students continue learning on their own after heading home or sneaking on stage at an Elton John concert. In addition to her weekly lessons, McGlasson organizes a recital to showcase the progress of her protégés.
Over the past two decades, Melody Hues has worn many educational hats, hosting piano, violin, band, and choir lessons and teaching in both Spanish and English at the elementary, junior high, and high school levels. At Melody Hues Studios, she and her staff help pass creative and communication skills along to a new generation with piano, violin, and voice lessons for children and Spanish lessons for students of all ages. Kids learn to read musical notation and play songs by ear using provided keyboards in piano lessons. During voice classes, students develop breath control and confidence that help improve tone, whether they're singing in front of a crowd or directly into a big bowl of pudding.