Wendy Rae Englander was a shining light within her family. Her sister, Dr. Janice Katz, founder of Imagination Station, attributes her passion for child development to Wendy and recognizes that she was part of the reason Dr. Katz became a clinical psychologist specializing in supporting children and their families.
On Thursday evening, Wendy was honored with the dedication of Imagination Station in her name.
“Imagination Station Child Development Center was created to empower children, beginning at six weeks of age, to reach their highest level of potential in all areas, including cognitive, social, emotional, physical and language development,” said Katz. “To this day, Imagination Station continues to fulfill this mission. Wendy Rae Englander is the true inspiration for Imagination Station.”
Thursday’s event showcased the new changes made to Imagination Station including several art installations in honor of Wendy.
“Rainbow artwork was installed on the pillars framing our entryway,” said Theresa Argueta, Director of Imagination Station. “Additionally, a collaborative art display welcomes our families in the foyer, which took two years to complete. Children, teachers, and families all worked together to create the exhibit, which features the images of our founder, Janice Katz’s, children.”
It was also an opportunity for local community members to tour the facilities and mingle over snacks and treats.
“I’m excited to have the community here. I think it’s a great opportunity for members to connect with us,” said Jennifer Corralez, Program Manager at Imagination Station.
Imagination Station is a National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) facility in LaPorte County and has been an integral part of the Michigan City community, offering high-quality childcare for children aged six-weeks to six-years through experience-based learning.
“Imagination Station was founded on the belief that all children should have access to the highest quality early experience,” said Argueta. “We meet the individual needs of children through our Reggio Emilia inspired curriculum, where children's wonderings are the catalyst for learning.”
“We play an important role in our community. The level 4 Indiana Paths to Quality, NAEYC, all of these things that we choose to participate in are layers to ensure that we are doing everything within our power and to hold ourselves to a high level of accountability,” said Corralez.
While many top-tier childcare facilities can come with a hefty price tag, Imagination Station has made itself accessible to all.
“Our program is accessible to families from all socio-economic backgrounds: we accept CCDF voucher, we partner with Head Start, and we offer tuition assistance supported by the United Way,” said Argueta.
Through joining forces with Paladin, Imagination Station has been able to do even more for the children within the community.
“Imagination Station and Paladin merged on July 1, 2019. This merger has helped us centralize our administration functions, become more efficient and effective, and has allowed us to increase our cost savings,” said Kim Latchford, Interim Director of Paladin, Inc. “In 2018, Paladin introduced our children's waiver program, to the community, for children with developmental disabilities. As we approach 2020, our vision for Paladin and Imagination Station is to provide seamless, integrated opportunities for all children we currently serve.”
Parents who bring their children to Imagination Station know that they are getting excellent care. Beth Luncsford, a board member with Paladin, has had both of her children at Imagination Station over the last six years, and they have earned her trust.
“The quality of care here is the best around. The teachers and aides are amazing. It’s really hard to leave your kids with someone who is kind of a stranger, not family, and they make it really easy here,” said Luncsford. “I always know my kids are going to be well taken care of and not only that, but they’re also going to be loved. I know they’re getting cuddles and hugs and that extra care they need.”
Wendy Rae, who passed away on March 6, 2019, would be honored to have Imagination Station dedicated to her as it was a place she loved to be a part of when she visited her sister.
“She loved the kids. She wanted to teach little children how to deal with their emotions. She read self-help books just so she could learn how to teach the children,” said Katz.
Thursday’s dedication was a true honor of the joy she brought.
For more information on Imagination Station, visit their website: https://www.childcareimaginationstation.org/
For more information on Paladin, Inc, visit their website: http://www.paladin.care/