PUTNAM CITY, Oklahoma - Other school districts are taking a cue from Putnam City's Smart Start teacher day care, by opening nurseries of their own. As the Putnam City teachers return to class this week, the program helps them balance their work life with parenting. 

Before greeting their students for the year, Putnam City teachers are leaving their little ones with a trusted team. PCHS Careers Exploration teacher Cari Warfe told News 9 the Smart Start program helps her focus on the kids in her classroom as well as her own.

“The convenience of it being right down the street from my school,” Warfe said. “When she was a baby I was able to come over and nurse and just the flow going in and out of here is amazing.”

Smart Start serves children from birth until the start of pre-K, at half the cost of other childcare centers. That makes all the difference, especially for teachers with more than one youngster in the program.

PC West math teacher Conner Andrulonis said, “This is a life saver. I would probably be staying home if this wasn’t an option because my wife and I both work.”

“Financially it would be much more difficult,” agreed Rollingwood kindergarten teacher Charity Lane. “Also, my son was at another daycare and he did not learn as much as he knows now. He knows almost all of his letters. He can county to 25, and he’s two.”

The program provides all the tools they need to succeed. 

Smart Start Program Director Kelly Suchy said, “We have a grant through the state department for literacy, and we have a lot of activities for early literacy for school readiness.” 

Putnam City schools made this resource available to teachers three years ago, the first district in the metro area to do so, after having an already established day care for student parents. The day care is also open to parents enrolled in English Second Language classes through the district.

It was an investment, but educators say the expansion is a game changer.

“I love my job and I love where I’m at,” Andrulonis said, “but I don’t think anybody could get me away to another district because of this.”

Piedmont is the first metro district to follow suit, opening its brand new teacher day care this school year.