First of five Spark Academy education centers to open in Wilmington

The first of five Spark Academy early childhood education centers is scheduled to open in October, according to an announcement on Tuesday, Aug. 8.
Published: Aug. 8, 2023 at 8:43 AM EDT|Updated: Aug. 8, 2023 at 6:26 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - if you’re a parent then you know how difficult it can be to find adequate and affordable childcare. Now, some families are going to get some relief soon with five new childcare centers planning to open soon.

The first of five Spark Academy early childhood education centers is scheduled to open in October, according to an announcement on Tuesday, Aug. 8.

Opening through Beacon Education, which opened the Girls Leadership Academy of Wilmington in 2016, Spark Academy will offer co-ed programs for children from six weeks of age through pre-kindergarten.

“Based on the latest research and guided by a proven education and mixed-income model, Spark Academy looks to provide families with new opportunities and educational enrichment for early childhood,” the announcement states.

In New Hanover County alone we have about 4,500 kids who are enrolled in licensed childcare programs, but we have more that are still trying to snag a spot on any roster they can. Even leaving parents with tough decisions on whether they should continue to work or not.

The center will be open for all families to apply for and it’s not restricted to household income.

Of course childcare can be expensive, another challenge for many families. But, this facility is offering scholarships to half of the students enrolled to make it more affordable.

“Spark Academy is a Early Childhood Education Center that will serve children and families, six weeks through five years old, in a mixed income model, which means that 50% of our families will pay full for their tuition. And 50% of our families will be scholarship at some level for their tuition,” said Todd Godbey, CEO of Beacon Education.

We’re told that even though this new childcare option is a step in the right direction, the demand is still higher than the supply.

“We have a real early care and education crisis in the community. It’s not just in New Hanover County, it’s across the state and across the nation. We need more workforce, we need more facilities, we need a workforce that is supported. We need parents that are supported and then that can afford childcare, which is another reason that the mix model that they’re planning here at Spark is so important,” said Jane Morrow, executive director of Smart Start in New Hanover County.

That starts with new facilities like Spark Academy opening its doors. The first center will be located at 1802 S. 17th St. in Wilmington.

Families interested in enrolling their children can tour the center beginning Aug. 22. Tours will be held on Tuesdays from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Those interested in requesting a tour are asked to visit the Spark Academy website.

“Spark Academy’s program is guided by the latest research into how young children best learn and thrive,” the release adds. “The school employs the STREAMin3 curriculum model with a focus on physical, cognitive, social, emotional, and linguistic learning. With a safe and inspiring indoor and outdoor learning environment, Spark Academy’s emphasis is placed not only on what children are learning, but also on how they learn best.”