Home Featured News GRCC preschool hosts grand opening this weekend

GRCC preschool hosts grand opening this weekend

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Phyllis Fratzke Early Childhood learning Laboratory is a the new state of the art child centered building to provide innovative high quality teacher education located North of Grand Rapids Community College's main campus on Lyon Street.

By Jakhari Carroll – Collegiate Staff

Saturday, Jan. 20, marked the official grand opening of the Phyllis Fratzke Early Childhood Preschool at Grand Rapids Community College.

Parents, children, teachers, and supporters arrived at the facility to check out the new features of the building. Founded in 1974, the Early Childcare program used to be in the First United Methodist Church, until GRCC built a $7.2 million, preschool building.

Phyllis Fratzke, the founder of the Early Childcare program, experienced her own challenges as a college student with children- an experience that inspired her to to build the new state-of-the-art preschool, and start up the Early Childcare program.

“I had did just one year at Cornell and stopped, got married and had three kids,” Fratzke said. “Then I decided I was going to go back to school, so I had to find a childcare for my own kids and that was a problem.”

When hired at Forest Hills, Fratzke was hired to teach home economics, tailoring, sewing and design. But her master’s degree was in family child sciences. During that time, women that attended school needed childcare for their children or a preschool but it was hard to find due to their busy schedules. That was the motivation Fratzke needed to start her own.

“From there me and Ann (Mulder)said, ‘Let’s do it,’” Fratzke said, talking about her friend and business partner.

Looking back to when they were at Forest Hills to now, Fratzke and Mulder had no idea that they would’ve been able to open up a preschool and start a childcare program. It was a far-fetched dream, but with faith and support, their dream became a reality.

“We dreamed about this, I never thought that it would be like this,” Fratzke said. “First we raised the money, I thought we weren’t going to be able to get the money to build the childcare, and never be able to do this.”

The support that Fratzke received on this long journey from friends, family, and business partners was well documented and appreciated. But her friends played the biggest role into getting the childcare up and running.

“As far as the childcare goes this was all JaneAnn Benson, Becky, they’re the two that did this, they were the force behind all of this because they went all around the world,” Fratzke said. “They went to New Zealand, Australia, Italy, all over to do designs for the building.”

Fratzke is still stunned about how everything came together and all the support she received from everyone in attendance.

“This is unbelievable, the facility, and the support that we get from the community is just unbelievable,” Fratzke said.

The Phyllis Fratzke Early Childhood Learning facility is located  at 210 Lyon Street and is open to the public. They welcome college students children, along with disabled children and kids from other programs. You can reach the preschool laboratory at (616) 234-4004.