Early Education Spotlight is an ongoing series that showcases great work happening in high-quality child care and preschool settings across Minnesota. From innovative early learning programs to parent perspectives on what works, check out the Early Education Spotlight for unique examples of Minnesota’s early learning successes.

By Marie Huey, Public Policy & Advocacy Coordinator
Video by Kristie Thorson, Communications Specialist

Early educator Darcy Barry plays with the children in her large backyard.

Darcy Barry discovered her passion for teaching young children early on, and she’s still going strong. A child care provider in Moorhead, Minnesota, for 23 years, Darcy’s impact reaches throughout the community.

Darcy’s program, Teddy Bear House, is Four Star Parent Aware rated. She’s always been passionate about educating children, and earning the rating lets others know that. She teaches the children important skills such as reading, art, and music. And she combines that teaching with a large helping of nurturing and warmth.

“Every day is different.  Every day is fun.  It’s all about the kids and the families.”

The Four Star rating qualifies her to receive Early Learning Scholarships, which was one of the main motivations for her to earn it. Early Learning Scholarships help parents pay for high-quality care. More than half of her children receive scholarships.

“The main reason I wanted to do the scholarships was for the families so they could come to daycare and not have to worry about the financial part because it’s a burden,” said Darcy.

The parents of the children in her program go to school or work full time, so access to consistent, quality care is essential.

The ample backyard at Teddy Bear House provides the children with plenty of play options. Over the years Darcy has added equipment to the space while leaving a large grassy area for running and games. She has made improvements to other parts of the house over time as well. Fresh coats of paint, re-doing the basement, and adding a fence have all made the space more kid-friendly.

The Teddy Bear House

Unlike many family child care providers, Darcy doesn’t live at the site where she has her program. She lives about 30 minutes away in Barnesville. The arrangement works really well for her because Teddy Bear House is completely devoted to the children, and she can go home to a space that’s her own.

“My drive home is kind of my time to reflect on what happened today and I’ll often find myself laughing about this and that.”

The rewards of her job are evident to Darcy. Parents thank her for the skills and knowledge she teaches the kids. She also hears from kids she cared for previously who are all grown up now. When they come back to say hi or invite her to graduations or weddings, she is reminded of her important role again.

“I love to teach.  It’s my life, and my pride is here,” said Darcy.