Teaching 'Incredible Minds'


Deborah Williams, center, with the children at her Incredible Minds Home Day Care Center, and her daughter, Kimberly Williams, left, the toddler teacher.

Brad McClenny/Special to the Guardian
Published: Thursday, January 27, 2011 at 4:38 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 27, 2011 at 4:38 p.m.

The desire to be around her first born grandchild has led to a career in the day care business for an east Gainesville grandmother.

Deborah Williams, the owner of Incredible Minds Home Day Care Center at 23 NE 43rd St., said when her daughter, Kimberly Williams, gave birth to her son, she knew she was going to change careers. Her daughter also works with her at the day care.

"I loved being a nursing assistant, but I wanted to do something different," said Williams as she served juice to her students on a recent morning. "I did research on home day cares, and I wanted to be around my first born grandchild."

She said her grandmother kept all of her children, except her youngest, until it was time for them to start school.

Williams said she started the business in 2001 in her home before renting space from 2005-2009 in a plaza on SE Hawthorne Road across from the school bus yard. She said she moved the business back into her home in October 2009.

Williams is quick to point out that she is a teacher and not a babysitter. She is certified as a Voluntary Pre-K provider with the Alachua County Early Learning Coalition and she uses the High Reach and the InvestiGator Club curriculums.

HighReach is an early childhood curriculum that involves children in hands-on experiences, real-life adventures, and assisted discovery as they explore concepts through play, while InvestiGator is a preschool curriculum where children are taught the alphabet, numbers, shapes and colors, and are also encouraged to experiment, build structures, appreciate fine art, sing, dance and engage in dramatic play.

Williams offers after-school care and she accepts newborns. She receives ongoing training to keep abreast of the latest trends in the industry and she is licensed by the Florida Department of Children and Families, which requires her to follow a mandatory daily schedule.

She said she was able to grow her business by providing a high quality service filled with love and caring. Williams, a 1978 graduate of Gainesville High School, received her child development credential with the help of a scholarship from the Early Learning Coalition.

April Billingsley's 7-year-old son, Jordan, attended Incredible Minds from the time he was 2 months old until he was 4 years old. Her youngest son, 3-year-old Jalen, currently is a student there.

"I just feel comfortable with her," said April Billingsley. "I really like that she teaches the kids and genuinely cares about them. She is like a mom to me."

Billingsley said that no matter where she has moved in the past and no matter how inconvenient the drive to Incredible Minds may be, she would not enroll her children in any other day care.

Helen Gaskins said all six of her grandchildren have attended Incredible Minds at various times. She said her 4-year-old granddaughter attended a different VPK program last year, but since she began attending Incredible Minds last summer, she has become more sociable and is learning to write her name.

"When school is out, she still wants to go to Ms. Debbie's," Gaskins said. "I would recommend Ms. Debbie to anybody."

Williams said she does her job because she has a passion for it.

"I'm not trying to get rich," she said. "I charge parents enough money to cover my bills and to feed my family."

She gives a lot of credit to the Early Learning Coalition for her success, saying it is a great resource for parents and providers.

"I can't talk for all providers, but the ELC has been good to me," said Williams, as she pointed to tables and learning materials the coalition has provided to her.

Williams offered this advice to parents seeking a day care provider. "Take your child to where you feel comfortable," Williams said.

Hours of operation are 6:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Friday. For more information, call 352-225-3754.

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