Preparing kids for school for over 45 years

There is plenty of time for play and exploring, while still learning. With a low student to teacher ratio, the staff at Carol Matheys is able to give each child the attention they need.

In 1970, the Carol Matheys Center for Children and Families opened its doors as part of the St. Michael’s Episcopal Church. Then in 1989, the center became an independent, nonprofit childcare center. Fast-forward to 2016, and Carol Matheys Center’s focus is still what it was 46 years ago: providing high-quality, affordable preschool, child care and programs.


Something for all ages

Carol Matheys Center has an infant and toddler program called “Treasured Tykes,” which is located in North Presbyterian Church in North St. Paul. 

This full-day program is open to babies age 6 weeks to 35 months, says Stacie Penn, the center’s executive director. “Treasured Tykes” prides itself on being a small, intimate program with teacher-to-baby ratios of 1 to 3, and 1 to 5 for toddlers.

Babies in “Treasured Tykes” are on individual plans, so staff members follow timelines set by parents for feedings and naps.

Another facet of the program is the use of baby sign language as a communication tool. “It helps ease the baby’s frustrations and improves learning language skills,” Penn says.

Carol Matheys Center also has full and half-day preschool programs as well as transitional kindergarten. 

Penn explains the transitional kindergarten program is an enriched learning program for 5-year-olds who may not be quite ready for kindergarten.

Preschool programs are offered for 3- and 4-years-old and the preschool center has a four-star Parent Aware rating, Penn says, the highest rating the state gives. This means the curriculum for the program meets Minnesota Early Learning Standards and prepares students for kindergarten in District 622. 

The preschool and transitional kindergarten programs focus on kindergarten readiness, but there’s plenty of unstructured time as well.

“We also believe kids learn through play,” Penn says, “so they have lots of time for exploration and fun.”


Qualified staff

All the employees at Carol Matheys Center for Children and Families are CPR and first aid certified. The teachers all have college degrees, and most have been with the center for 10 years or longer.

Penn says the staff members have a caring attitude toward kids. “Our goal is to get them ready for school, and we do a really good job of that.”

Beyond the curriculum, which is based on the Early Learning Standards, the children receive progressive evaluations that follow them throughout their years at Carol Matheys.

This helps staff evaluate if there are any issues early and develop ways to address them.


Here for the kids

Carol Matheys Center is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, meaning it relies partially on donations and grants to cover operating expenses, ensuring the focus is on the kids.

“That’s what our mission is. It’s to provide high-quality, early-childhood learning opportunities for our community,” Penn says. 

There are emergency scholarships available for families in need and with its Parent Aware rating, Carol Matheys Center’s preschool program is also eligible for the Minnesota Early Learning scholarships.  

Carol Matheys Center for Children and Families prides itself on its decades-long dedication to helping the community, and Penn says it’s fun to see people who used to attend the programs now bringing their children there.

The center is currently accepting enrollment for its Summer Day Camp through early May and preschool and infant enrollment until September. 

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