JO’s Learning Academy
JO’s Learning Academy (formerly Jo’s Daycare) was founded in 1967 when Joceal Price began to offer childcare services for neighborhood families from her home. Ms. Jo, as she is affectionately known to family and friends, believed that children were most likely to succeed if they were cared for in a nurturing and loving environment with an abundance of personal attention. During the thirty plus years in business she cared for several generations of children from families throughout Milwaukee. Many of these families have children currently enrolled in the Academy. Ms. Jo continues to work at the North Avenue site and is there daily using her skills, knowledge and experience to ensure children receive nutritious meals, hugs and love that only she can give. She also provides support and guidance for young families of children.
Schnell Price Lambert, Ms. Jo’s daughter after pursuing a corporate career in marketing for over ten years, knew she wanted to return to her hometown and do something that would have a larger and more significant impact on the community. So, in 1997 she decided to follow in her mother’s footsteps to provide high quality early education and care for central city families. In addition, Schnell wanted to provide opportunities for employment and training for women and men in their community who were interested in working to improve the education and well-being of young children and their families.
Schnell expanded on her mother’s model of childcare and purchased a home in the Washington Heights neighborhood. As enrollment grew a second home was purchased, which also quickly filled to capacity. With full enrollment at both sites, she decided to transition from a licensed family childcare provider to a licensed group center.
JO’s Daycare Academy
To fulfill her desire to provide quality childcare services that was accessible for central city families, Schnell purchased property on North Avenue and in October 2000 JO’s Daycare Academy opened its doors at 4801 West North Avenue as a nonprofit licensed childcare center. To ensure JO’s offered high quality care, Schnell used her own financial resources and partnered with Legacy Bank to renovate building to meet the educational needs of young children and to furnish and equip JO’s with quality equipment. She wanted JO’s to be an example of a “quality childcare center” in central city, because few examples existed.
In 2001, Schnell was asked by Milwaukee Public Schools to utilize the second floor of the center for Hi Mount Elementary School. This collaboration became an opportunity to offer childcare services as well as after school program for children attending Hi Mount in one location. Also, during 2001, JO’s Daycare Academy began partnership with Next Door Foundation to provide on-site childcare services for children six-weeks to five years of age at their facility. In 2005 Next Door expanded the collaboration and began providing Head Start services at JO’s North Avenue site.
Since its inception JO’s has experience significant enrollment growth. Through parent referrals, and reputation for providing quality care, JO’s enrollment grew from 48 children when it opened in 2000 to 112 children. To accommodate the increase demand for slots, Schnell purchased the adjacent building and construction was completed in September 2005. The center’s capacity was increased to serve 112 children. From 2005 to 2014 JO’s has continued to expand its capacity and today JO’s Learning Academy serves 151 children. JO’s after school program JO’s Kids consistently operates at full capacity with 50 children ages 5-12 in daily attendance.
In September 2009, JO’s partnered with Next Door Foundation to add 3 year old Head-Start classrooms and two Early Head Start classrooms for 1 and 2 year old children. This partnership with Next Door to provide Head Start at the 4801 West North Avenue site continued through June 2013. Also, JO’s became a collaborative partner with Social Development Commission (SDC) to provide Head Start at North Avenue site from 2011 through 2013.
To strengthen the quality of teaching and enhance professional development, JO’s formed collaboration with Cardinal Stritch University to serve as a placement site for early childhood education students. This has been a ten year collaboration that has helped JO’s improve quality of teaching and enhanced teacher’s knowledge of best practices.
In 2013, JO’s partnered with Aclero Learning to provide Head Start services for eligible children and families at the North Avenue site. The partnership ensured continuity of head start services for children and families.
JO’s Daycare Academy of Arts
June, 2003, Schnell opened JO’s Daycare Academy of the Arts at 3027 West Greenfield Avenue to provide the same quality of early childhood services to Milwaukee’s south side children and families. In 2004 JO’s began a partnership with Guadalupe Head Start to provide Head Start classes at the Greenfield site. This offered the community additional access to a much needed bilingual early childhood as well as infant/toddler care and an after school program. There are 81 children enrolled at this program site. The collaborative partnership with Guadalupe Head Start is still in force at the Greenfield site.