John Jessup could have been an elementary school teacher, but he changed career paths when he realized that he could make a much bigger impact on children by reaching them before they transitioned into elementary school.
Now Jessup serves as regional director for Tots Around the Clock (TATC), an early learning and daycare center for children from infancy to five years-old. During summer, TATC accepts children up to 12 years old.
Tots Around the Clock started as an in-home, licensed daycare center, caring for five to eight children at a time. Since its founding in 2007, TATC has expanded and now cares for close to 50 children between the hours of 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. at its Oyster Point location, which has been open for four years.
“When it comes to behavior, most daycare centers have a ‘three strikes and you’re out’ policy,” Jessup says. “We believe if you bring a student in and that student has problems, the first thing you have to recognize is it’s not the student’s fault there is a problem. We don’t know about their home situation. So once a student is enrolled, if we can accommodate and work with the student, I’m going to accept that child.”
Jessup’s background with educating children goes back 20 years. He began free tutoring as a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. He would usually spend four to six hours a week with a student, but he says that it just wasn’t enough time to make sure the student was grasping the material he was teaching. Noticing that many children were starting elementary school without proper preparation, he was determined to make a difference.
“I don’t think as a daycare learning center with parents paying tuition for two or three years, the student should begin elementary school without parents getting reports that the student is not meeting his or her milestones.”
Early childhood education is important to Jessup, and so is embracing each child’s differences. He doesn’t believe that all students should be taught the same because, according to Jessup who has two children of his own, all children don’t learn the same.
When hiring staff, Jessup looks for teachers who love children first and teach them second. When children with disabilities come to the school or are transitioning from another country, the staff at TATC learns everything they can to ensure these children are comfortable and adjust well to the new environment.
The staff at TATC offers plenty of hugs to the children. If some children have limited access to healthy foods at home, Jessup likes to keep that in mind by providing food to the children four times throughout the day rather than the typical three times as offered by other daycare centers. The children have breakfast, then a snack before lunch and another snack after naptime.
When he isn’t working, Jessup likes vacationing with his family. This year, his family will be going without him because TATC is transitioning into accepting new students and hiring new teachers. But even during his free time, Jessup is focusing on how he can further build the Tots Around the Clock brand and help make an impact on even more children before reaching the classroom.
“Having seven daycare centers in seven cities is our main goal and getting our children to reach their milestones is really the most important thing,” he says.
TO THE POINT
Tots Around the Clock
Address: 11824 Fishing Point Dr., Newport News, VA 23606
Contact: John Jessup, regional director