Theressa Stephens and Church Childcare

Dawn Cauthen-Thornton | January 17th, 2019
Theressa Stephens students (Photos by Luguzy Atkins)

Theressa Stephens students (Photos by Luguzy Atkins)

In the Bible, God says, ‘be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth’. There is nothing greater than knowing you have had the most important role in a young life by growing, nurturing, and teaching that child to become a productive citizen. In addition to parents, children are influenced by the people they spend an abundance of time with, such as childcare providers and school teachers.

Before many children enroll in school, they first attend some sort of childcare facility. While in high school and throughout college, Theressa Stephens worked in childcare but transitioned to corporate America after she graduated from Winston Salem State University with a degree in business. After years in banking and other areas, she realized she wasn’t fulfilled. She wanted to get back to what and who she loved, children.

In 1998 Theressa opened Church Daycare in her home with only two children. Within two months, six more children enrolled. Over the next few years she continued to admit children until she was at capacity and was forced to start a waitlist. In 2005, Theressa expanded even more and was fortunate enough to build Church Childcare Center, Inc. As the student population grew, so did her staff. The new facility allowed for new classrooms to be added as well as more programs such as a before and after-school area for children in grades kindergarten through 8th.

In the spring of 2017, Theressa celebrated her first high school graduates that attended her daycare when it was still located in her home. She even sent care packages to help get them ready for college or the workforce. Soon she’ll prepare her own high school aged children, who attended her daycare, to enter the world as adults.

Theressa credits her and her husband’s dedication and that of her 27 staff members for the success of her business. “I work every day. I’m highly involved in what happens on a day-to-day basis. I hire the staff and monitor the classrooms so I’ll know what’s going on at all times.” Her husband Maurice is part owner and also involved with his wife’s passion. “When I asked my husband all those years ago if it was alright for me to quit my job to start a daycare, he immediately said he doesn’t mind. He was very supportive. He even does repairs when we need them.”

In September of 2018, Church Childcare Center Plus was opened across the street from the original location, with a capacity of 150 children. Considering 2018 is the 20-year anniversary of the family business, opening another location makes the new location even more special.

The entrepreneur prides herself on having a positive relationship with the parents. For the last three years she has hosted a Christmas Social for the parents to connect with them on a more personal level. She has also sponsored families in need, from her daycare, with their permission.

To run two successful childcare facilities one must have a big heart and a love of making a difference. Theressa currently volunteers her time with the nationally recognized organization, Top Ladies of Distinction, as the Treasurer. They mentor young teenagers and motivate them to be leaders, to go to college, and to maintain a high GPA, among other things.

To continue her dedication to the well-being of children, Theressa is one of two childcare providers who serve as board members of Smart Start of Forsyth County. This non-profit organization provides scholarships for children to attend childcare facilities.

This business owner seems to know what it takes to sustain in a world that see operations come and go. When asked about her longevity and the advice she would give others aspiring to walk in her shoes, she offers, “You have to invest the time to learn how to run your business. You almost have to be a perfectionist, an overachiever. You also have to listen and make your customer feel valued.”

Theressa also acknowledges the idea of finding one’s purpose. “Millennials seem to find jobs that they love to do. People my age don’t always do that. I know this is what God wanted me to do. And that’s very important to me. I’m building relationships with hundreds of people and I’m helping mold children’s minds.”

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