NEW DIRECTOR: Emerging leader spearheads childcare center

COLUMBIA CITY — Whitley County’s YMCA recently welcomed Tara Kuhmichel as the Early Learning Childcare director. In July, the YMCA took over where Stepping Stones Day Care left off. After the day care program was closed, most of the Stepping Stones staff made the switch to the YMCA’s Early Learning Childcare program.The childcare program was a first for the YMCA, but Executive Director Erica Miller saw the community need and worked quickly to fill in the gap. Now the early learning center has a new director and is continuing to grow the program it so quickly took on.Kuhmichel brings with her an early childhood education experience and the perspective of a mother who utilized the center for her own children.When Kuhmichel’s husband took on the job of assistant principal at Columbia City High School, the family relocated to Whitley County. Being a working mother, Kuhmichel depended on Stepping Stones for her childcare and felt the anxiety over what to do once she got wind of the day care closing.The transition was somewhat abrupt, but Kuhmichel said the staffs’ willingness to do “whatever it took” allowed for an ease of both parents’ and children’s minds.Education is becoming a bigger priority for the center now that Kuhmichel is on board. One of her goals is to help teachers build lesson plans for each class that will tap into both the imaginative and intellectual side of children.Part of the center’s mission is to pattern itself after the long-standing reputation the YMCA has in caring for families. Miller and Kuhmichel are working to develop the center in such a way as the lesson plans and learning opportunities are in sync with what elementary children are doing in the county’s schools.For a more in-depth look at this story, see the Dec. 31 issue of The Post and Mail. Don't have a subscription? Call (260) 244-5153 or subscribe to our e-edition. For breaking news, sports updates and additional coverage, bookmark the homepage and find us on facebook.