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May 20, 2011

Holcombe’s award linked to SPCC education

WADESBORO – Susie Holcombe of Wadesboro recently received recognition for two significant achievements. While the two achievements are very different, they are also related.

Holcombe, 41, graduated from South Piedmont Community College on May 13 with an associate’s degree in Early Childhood Education. On May 19, she received an award for being the Anson County Family Child Care Home Provider of the Year. The latter, Holcombe attributes to her center’s five-star status, which she said is a direct result of her returning to school at SPCC. (The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services ranks day-care centers on a scale of one to five stars, with five being the best.)

“One of the reasons (for the award) was because of education, because I chose to return to community college,” she said. “The only way I could achieve five-star status was by completing my education.”

The five-star designation is a source of pride for Holcombe. “They want children to learn math, science, block play,” she said. “I always try to do what I’m supposed to do with the kids, instead of being a baby sitter. I want to teach them what they need to know.”

With help from her husband, John, and 14-year-old son, Albert, she has kept her child care center on N.C. Highway 109 North running as she earned her degree over the last four years.

“It’s been good, but it’s been a challenge,” Holcomb said. “I’m glad I did it. I hate that I waited so long. In the future, I might try to take some more classes, but I don’t think I’d try to be full time.”

Holcombe’s license allows her to keep up to eight children during each of three shifts. She ran only two shifts for the first eight years, but has been open around the clock for the last two years. “It’s a challenge, and tiring,” she said. “And, trying to go to school, too. My husband helps me out a lot. I couldn’t have gone to school without him. He’s kind of stepped in with my day care for me to come to school. He’s the main reason I’ve been able to finish, to be honest.”

Holcombe has no other employees except for herself and her husband and son. John Holcombe was self-employed before he began taking on more day-care responsibility. “His job has gotten a little bit slow,” Holcombe said. “We’ve had ups and downs financially because of his job being cut back, but we’ve gotten through it.”

Holcombe was working in a mill when she decided to open a day care in her home 10 years ago. Part of her motivation was to be at home with Albert, then 4 years old. Her sister-in-law ran a day care and Holcombe talked with her for advice. “I love it,” she said. “I hate I didn’t do it sooner.”