MONTANA CITY — Rachel Supalla never planned to own a daycare.
“I was a stay-at-home mom, I was a preschool teacher and it just happened really, really fast. It grew, and I kind of had to make it up as I went along,” said Supalla. “Doors kept opening and I decided I really needed to do this because there’s such a huge need. So many people need quality childcare, interactive, fun childcare, and we offer something unique — both childcare and preschool — so we just kept going with it.”
Supalla says her daycare business began 10 years ago in her basement and now spreads across three locations — one in Clancy and two in Montana City, including the brand new Discovery Kidzone Learning Center building, a creation from Golden Eagle Construction, which held its grand opening party Thursday evening.
“I decided I wanted to do it right, to design something that was amazing and my dream,” said Supalla, who owns the business with her husband, Eric.
Crews broke ground in September, with excitement continuing to grow in anticipation of an eventual opening. But when the COVID-19 pandemic spread to Montana in March, Supalla immediately faced a lot of unknowns.
“That was incredibly terrifying, because we went from three schools with a giant wait list to two schools, and it was, ‘How are we going to fill our brand new school? What is the world going to look like? How do I keep my staff employed even though we’re down to 30 percent enrollment?’ said Supalla. “It was very scary, but I feel like God provided for us and really brought it all together in the end.”
Ironically, Supalla’s vision for the building was a perfect fit.
“I had already designed the building and designed things like the sinks, but it really is great because we have a clean sink and dirty sink in every classroom. That means that when they go potty or change diapers, they have a specific sink for that, and then a clean sink for washing hands for meals or coming in from outside the building, which is really, really going to be great moving forward,” she explained. “The little potties in every classroom with their short doors for teachers to have supervision, that’s great for potty training. The playground was a huge dream of mine … I really had a dream of a place that’s just magical for kids. … There’s just a lot for them to do, and that’s what I really, really wanted.”
The past 10 months have been a roller coaster of emotions, but the new building’s official opening on June 1 brought both a sigh of relief and sense of pride to Supalla.
“I haven’t really had time to think about it. Yes, it’s a huge relief,” she smiled. “Preschool graduation was last week, and I think that’s when it really hit me and I got really emotional because I was what a big world we’ve created at Discovery Kidzone, how everyone loves everyone and loves the children, and we all work together for all these goals we have. That’s when it really hit me, ‘Wow, look at what we built.’”
“The joy I experience is seeing my team blossom and thrive,” she continued. “All the planning and training I’ve done with them, really seeing them have wings and doing it on their own, that’s the most amazing part. Seeing the joy on the kids’ faces, the connections they make with their teachers, that’s the most amazing part.”
Supalla seems to be exactly where she’s meant to be, whether she planned it or not.