Valdosta Daily Times

Features

February 13, 2012

Daycare owner has years of experience working with little ones

VALDOSTA — Being from Quitman, I’m one of the few people in Valdosta that had never heard of Sara Hendrix. Better known as ‘Miss Sara,’ she is the owner of Miss Sara’s Day Care and has a long history of caring for children in the greater Valdosta area.

The 78-year-old childcare giver can get around better than some people much younger than herself. In fact, she probably has more energy than I do at 31.

“I’ve been really healthy and blessed,” she said. “The Lord’s been really good to me.”

And he really has.

Miss Sara’s daycare location opened in 1992. She and her husband, Ralph, bought the house in 1955 and raised their four children in it.

But Miss Sara has had years of experience teaching children, long before 1992.

“I’ll be honest with you, I’m the oldest of 11 children and growing up, all my brothers and sisters, got into working with children,” Miss Sara said.

Her brother, Errol Sewell, is a member of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America Alumni Hall of Fame, has held various Club professional positions and joined the national staff in 1969.

“One of my sisters works with DFCS up in South Carolina,” she said. “Actually there were 11 children so I went and started to work when I was 12 years old at a beauty shop downtown.

They had a beauty

 school upstairs and a beauty shop below it.”

The owner made Miss Sara a string with a magnet to help her pick up bobby pins and she would go and bring towels up and down the stairs.

In high school, Miss Sara was a majorette for Valdosta High School.

“I marched many times on that football field over there,” she said.

One of her many high school memories is the night she graduated from high school — she got married.

“I graduated May 28, 1951 and we went across the street ... and the class went with us. There wasn’t but about 300 in the class all together,” she said. “We were married 60 years this past May. He’s still climbing trees and I’m still doing this.”

In the 1960’s, Miss Sara began teaching at Lee Street Baptist Church.

“Mrs. Clela Sessions is the lady who asked me to come and help her teach the kindergarten program,” Miss Sara said. “That’s before (kindergarten) was ever in public schools. When I taught kindergarten at Lee Street, there were only three (kindergarten) programs in Valdosta. Mrs. Sessions and I taught the children. She was the most wonderful lady. She taught me how to teach the children and on our handbook, I have this little song that she wrote to this day.”

According to Miss Sara, she has a head full of songs that Mrs. Sessions taught her that young teachers and caregivers now have never even heard of.

“Hundreds and hundreds of songs, like Valentine songs like ‘Daisy, Daisy’ and ‘School Days,’” she said.

In addition to working at Lee Street Baptist Church, she has taught kindergarten at Azalea City Church (now Crossroads) and Morningside Baptist Church.

“I’ve never applied for a job,” she laughed. “(Azalea City) called me to come over there and keep it going. So I took my daughter over there and it grew up in a hurry and we hired a bunch of people and it’s still there.”

Between Lee Street, Morningside and Azalea City, Miss Sarah taught kindergarten for 28 years. She has a huge stack of certificates and diplomas from various schools such as Valdosta State, University of Georgia, Okefenokee College, Valdosta Tech, and ABAC for education classes.

“We have to have 10 hours of Continuing Ed every year, me and every employee,” she said. “I’ve had a lot of training in brain development. That’s what I like. You can teach children so much in such a short amount of time. Ninety percent of children being able to learn is making them want to.”

Another part of her job is teaching others a good work ethic.

As a part of the daycare, Miss Sara has worked with high school students and college students from Valdosta State University, teaching them the in’s and out’s of running a daycare.

“I’ve worked girls that were in high school and at Valdosta State,” she said. “I teach them work ethics. I don’t mind one bit telling them this is not what you do. When you go out there and work for someone, they tell you, I don’t beat around the bush because I want them to learn a good work ethic. You have to go by the state rules and regulations but you also have to work for your employer.”

But it’s the children that make all the classes, state regulations and other rules worthwhile.

“This is what life is about,” she said. “I mean I love working with these babies and children. It’s my life. I can’t even imagine myself getting out of it. My family is always saying they would like for me to stop.”

To Miss Sara, she believes that what she’s doing is a type of ministry.

“Part of it is what God meant for me to do. It’s a ministry for me. I have a Christian flag on my pole out there. I teach the children about Jesus. I teach the Bible back there. It’s just a ministry to me. I’m not in it for the money.” Miss Sara said.

“It’s the children that I love. I would not do it if I could not hug them. I have to be able to hug them. I’m a firm believer that a child that has separation anxiety in the morning, give them a Kit Kat. I have a whole bag of them. I’ll be like ‘you want a Kit Kat,’ and they’re so quick to say ‘bye Mama!’,” she laughed.

And while she loves the children, to some of the parents she’s like a surrogate mother or grandmother (She has 8 grandchildren and 7 great-grandchildren of her own).

“I’m a people person and I love just getting to know people, meeting the parents. I’m like a sounding board. I get to know all of these parents and they come to me and I listen,” she said.

As the owner of her own business, the former Valdosta Woman of the Year (1987) keeps her own books but has her own accountant - one she taught as a child. She even has two children that she took care of that ended up marrying one another and of course, she was invited to the wedding.

 “I have students in every walk of life,” she said. “You would not believe how many, I have them from every age. If they are able to get on Facebook, they are my friends on Facebook. I have all these children of all the children I’ve taught. They grow up and bring their children to me. It’s so rewarding, I can’t even describe it. It’s like raising my grandchildren. To see them, I’ll be honest, they all have turned out to be successful doctors, lawyers.”

“I always tell them, don’t forget me when you become rich and famous!”

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