A business that combines learning with child care, owned by a Camas couple, is providing job opportunities for three former Pacific Crest Academy educators.
Vijay and Deepika Ilavarasan, owners of the Kiddie Academy location in East Vancouver, first hired Barbi Jackson, a former preschool director and pre-kindergarten teacher who worked for 10 years at Pacific Crest Academy (PCA), in Camas.
PCA is a former private Catholic school that did not reopen this fall, after a decline in enrollment. School leaders notified families of the pending closure via email in late July.
Jackson is the assistant director at the Kiddie Academy location that opened Nov. 14.
Robertson & Olson Construction, of Camas, built the 10,400 square foot building.
There are currently 53 students enrolled, and the Ilavarasans are licensed to serve 166 children from the age of six weeks to 12 years.
“It’s exciting to be part of the ground floor,” Jackson said. “It is early childhood education. It’s not babysitting. There is STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics)-based curriculum.”
Deepika has a Washington State certificate in early childhood education from Clark College. She also has a master’s degree in computer science and engineering from Oakland University, in Rochester Hills, Michigan.
In addition to a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, Vijay has master’s degrees in industrial engineering, computer science and engineering and business administration.
The Ilavarasans have two children.
“Education is very important to us,” Deepika said. “Both of our families felt having a strong education is what helps create a successful career and a better way of living. We believe the same.”
Kiddie Academy, founded in 1981, is an independently owned and operated franchised business. There are 200 locations in 27 states.
At the location owned by the Ilavarasans, students play outside twice a day and eat breakfast, a morning snack, lunch and an afternoon snack. There is also an afternoon nap time.
On rainy days, children play in the indoor flex gym, which includes a rock wall.
The schedule for third graders includes creative art time, story and technology times and science exploration.
“The assortment of activities we have available for the children is endless, which encourages them to learn, play and explore,” Deepika said.
The “WatchMeGrow” webcam program provides parents with the opportunity to observe their children, via streaming video, during the day.
There are currently 15 staff members at the Kiddie Academy location in the Fisher’s Landing area of Vancouver, and the Ilavarasans expect to hire an additional 10 employees within the next two to three months.
Christine Peters, a former second and third grade teacher for six years at PCA, is an assistant teacher for a pre-kindergarten class at Kiddie Academy.
She said the opening of Kiddie Academy was “perfect timing.”
“Deepika and Vijay are passionate, fun to work with and supportive,” Peters said.
Peters met the Ilavarasans at the Kiddie Academy booth during Camas Days in late July.
Martha Troyer, a former after-school care aide for two years at PCA, is a substitute teacher who helps in all of the classes at Kiddie Academy.
Jackson and Peters told her about the job opportunities at Kiddie Academy.
“It is wonderful working with Barbi and Christine,” Troyer said.
Kiddie Academy is located at 1920 S.E. 167th Ave., Vancouver. Open houses are held this month from 6 to 7 p.m., on Wednesdays, and from 10 to 11:30 a.m., on Saturdays.