Left Hand Valley Courier - All Local, All The Time

By Vicky Dorvee

Miss Catherine's Creative Learning Center changing hands


April 13, 2018

Photo by Vicky Dorvee New owner, Alissa Pinkas, and Catherine Médal, the founder of Miss Catherine's Creative Learning Center, share a moment outside the building it has occupied for 22 years. The business has been renamed to Growing Minds Learning Academy.

Catherine Médal, owner of Miss Catherine's Creative Learning Center and Infant Center in Gunbarrel for over two decades, announced the completion of the sale to a new owner. The center has been renamed to Growing Minds Learning Academy.

“I am so appreciative of the parents and community for allowing me to have been involved in their lives for 22 years,” Médal said.

In her farewell letter to parents Médal wrote, “Approaching the big 70 in February, it is now time to think of enjoying retirement with my husband, family and friends. I am writing to let you know that I am turning over the reins to Alissa Pinkas and Devon Barclay.”

A still very energetic Médal had watched as all of her friends have retired; some were enjoying time with their loved ones while others declined in health or became ill. Approaching the new decade of her life and celebrating 50 years of marriage this June, Médal decided it was time to move on to a new stage.

Aside from traveling with her husband, a former Air Force officer who retired eight years ago, and spending time with their three children and their spouses, Médal is looking forward to staying involved with two non-profit organizations she’s volunteered for; Zonta Foothills of Boulder County, which is focused on empowering young women and improving their quality of life, and the Boulder Evening Optimists Club, an organization dedicated to helping children reach their potential. She will also continue being active at her church.

The center’s new owner, Alissa Pinkas, is a graduate of Boulder Prep High School in Gunbarrel. She began working with children in her teens as a nanny and a martial arts instructor. She has worked in a child care center for the past eight years in Denver and is nearing the completion of her bachelor’s degree in early childhood education at Metro State University of Denver. Pinkas has two sons, eight-year-old Taylor and five-year-old Landen.

“Through my work experience, I found a love for early childhood education,” Pinkas said. “Kids are sponges. The knowledge they get just from play is amazing. We are able to teach them concepts and life skills, so I don’t believe that child care should be just babysitting.”

Médal had spent six months looking for the right “mom and pop” team to take over the center. Both parties to the transaction used the same business broker, who paired them up.

New co-owner and Pinkas’s fiancé, Barclay, will assist with the maintenance of the leased building which the center has occupied since its beginnings in 1995. Some aesthetic upgrades are in the works - upgrading from carpet to hardwood floors and freshly painted walls. Plans are also underway to add new classrooms to a space within the same building.

The center has been accredited through the National Association for the Education of Young Children for over 10 years, and that was very important to Pinkas. This certifies that there is a particularly high standard of health, safety, and educational levels to which the center adheres.

Music, art, science, swimming, and Spanish classes are enrichment programs that supplement other learning and play activities. Meals are prepared from scratch by two in-house chefs.

There are presently more than 70 students enrolled in both centers; the infant/toddler center cares for children between the ages of eight weeks and 12 months old, while the learning center program is for preschool children from ages one to six years old. The center is open year-round and is presently enrolling students for their summer program. They are also expanding services to include before and after school care for students up to 12 years old.

Twenty teachers are employed at the center and the group lead teachers must have completed beginning level college classes in early childhood education, plus have 4,000 hours of practical experience.

Pinkas said, “It was my dream to run a child care center and I knew from the moment we walked in that Miss Catherine’s was a perfect fit. It’s just beautiful. I can’t even explain the feeling, but you just know sometimes.”

For more information, visit www.GrowingMindsLearningAcademy.net or call 303-530-1820.


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