There were more children outside than in during the grand opening of The Big Blue Marble Academy in Morristown on July 24, the first of its kind in Tennessee.
There were plenty of things to do in both locations, so some of the youngest learners had a tough choice to make. Mascot Cosmo danced with a group of energetic toddlers inside the colorfully decorated building, while staff closely monitored activities on the playsets and in the bounce house set up at the side yard playground.
Morristown Area Chamber of Commerce staff and volunteer ambassadors were on hand and 2014 Chamber Chair Roni Snyder got schooled on the symbolism of the learning center’s name.
“It’s the earth,” she told the group of supporters prior to the Chamber ribbon cutting that marked the official opening of the center that has actually been in operation around six weeks, according to owner and CEO Nan Rikard.
“There is a great curriculum model and business model, to get this up and running and implement a lot of additional education,” Snyder said. “It does not just provide after school care, there is a real core curriculum involved.”
The Big Blue Marble was founded in South Carolina and now operates 11 centers in the state.
“We are so excited to be here,” Rikard said. “Morristown is a great fit for us. This is our first step outside of South Carolina, and we’re very excited about it. Everyone has been so welcoming and kind.
“We want to make a difference in children’s lives and prepare them for the 21st century. We have been in childcare management over 25 years and, in developing this new concept and this company two years ago, we wanted to design it where we would be getting children ready for what they will encounter as adults.”
The academy will include a focus on science, technology, engineering and math, along with an innovate twist, according to Rikard.
“We have developed a curriculum that includes character development. We are offering a global education. We want children to understand it is their community, state, country and world. Big blue marble is childlike object, yet it depicts our globe, or world.
“We’re excited to make a difference here and in the lives of the children in the community,” she said.
Rikard began her child care career as owner and executive director of Gilbert Day Care and Learning Center from 1988 to 1997 and then with The Sunshine House until 2010 as a regional director, operations director, and chief operations officer during her tenure. During recent years, Nan has focused on refining Lango enrichment curriculum and programs, which now are offered in many public school districts and private schools in the midlands and upstate areas of South Carolina.
Big Blue Marble and its team of professionals with many years of early education and child care experience, have created a unique, cutting edge concept in global education, using a combination of proven age appropriate techniques, programs and curriculum to make up its Passport to Learning program.
Components of Passport to Learning include The Creative Curriculum, Lango Kids, foreign languages for children, Little Passports, and Leap Frog.
The academy is also developing a natural playground at the rear of the building, which includes lots of green grass, the beginnings of a teepee and interesting objects like unoccupied bees’ and hornets’ nests.
Big Blue Marble Academy is accepting children ages 6 weeks to 12 years old and is located at 5625 W. Andrew Johnson Hwy. For more information, call 423-353-1021, visit www.bbmacademy.com or search for the academy on Facebook.
-By Glenna Howington, Tribune Staff Writer