Kaieteur News – Proprietor of Unique’s Playschool and Nursery programme, Taneka Latoya Sanchara is a Special Person
Without a doubt, Mrs. Taneka Latoya Sanchara, the Proprietor of Unique’s Play School, Day Care, and Nursery Programme is a gifted Teacher, especially when it comes to shaping the minds of young children.
For more than a decade, she has delivered unparalleled teaching services to the youngest of learners. “Ms. Taneka” as she is fondly called by those who know her best, is often praised for her patience and ability to keep the little ones calm and cared for.
She said from the inception people just feel comfortable leaving their children with her. She later discovered that this was way more than just a skill, it was her calling; her life’s mission.
However, what most people don’t know is that this week’s Special Person’s training for her professional career started in an unlikely place—Sunday school.
Sanchara revealed that because she was forced to drop out of high school due to unforeseen circumstances, she never imagined when she taught her first Sunday school class that she was stepping boldly into the path of a lifelong career that would impact hundreds of young children and their parents.
As a young woman she just loved to attend Church and desired to play her part in serving the Body of Christ. It is that genuine desire to serve that led her to a purposeful career working with young children.
And while Sanchara initially did not finish high school, she had studied and undergone a number of training courses to upgrade her skill set. She moved from high school dropout to graduating with a distinction from the University of Guyana in the early childhood education course.
On December 6th, 2019, she graduated from a course in early childhood development offered by the Board of Industrial Training in collaboration with UNICEF, and went on to get her diploma at the University of Guyana in 2022.
She also completed an Early Childhood Professional Course (ECE) online through the Arizona-based Penn Foster College, which lasted two years, and graduated with honors.
She also holds certificates from several other institutions in early childcare programmes.
Reflecting on her journey from a Sunday School Teacher to owning her own childcare establishment, she said, “I never knew that this could have happened to me because of where I came from and the hurdles I faced, but it is the hands of God that navigated me, making things easy for me and causing everything to fall into place….”
She revealed that she faced several hurdles early in life but that had not stopped her from veering unto the path of a purposeful career. She’s extremely proud to mark 10 years in the business.
HURDLES TO SUCCESS
Sanchara was born in a small village called Ituni, Linden, located in region 10 (Upper Takatu, Upper Berbice).
For the first seven years of her life, she lived with her grandmother before relocating to Georgetown to live with her Uncle, who was an Officer in the Guyana Police Force stationed at the Police Headquarters for next nine years.
At the age of 16, Taneka was reunited with her mother and went to live at a settlement in Better Hope.
Due to unforeseen circumstances, she was unable to complete her secondary education, as she needed to work to help her mother provide for her younger siblings.
Based on the trajectory of her life back then, Sanchara admits that she never saw herself having a professional career let alone operating her own preschool.
She admits “not being able to finish school, I believe I was at a disadvantage… it was later that my passion for children and other things fell into place.”
Despite her dim circumstances then, Sanchara found comfort and ease in the Church. She spent a lot of time in church and Sunday school. She was actively part of the youth activities, playing roles in skits, dances, and tours. It was also during this period of her life that Sanchara met her husband, Anand Sanchara, and not long after they started a family.
With the unfolding of a new chapter of her life, Sanchara enrolled her first two children Anthony Sanchara and Younica Sanchara, into Crystallites Play Group.
It was during this time that she met Cristine Bandu, (the owner of this playgroup), whom she described as a powerful Christian woman who imparted a lot of wisdom to her. She spent a lot of time at the preschool helping out and talking about the Bible with Mrs. Bandu.
Mrs. Bandu soon invited the curious young mother to her church, and she got baptized and started working in the church’s Sunday School Department.
Along with her, there were a few caring and compassionate people who assisted her in teaching Sunday school. It was during this period that the young Teacher also discovered she had a creative flair.
In her little apartment where she lived with her husband and two children, Sanchara came up with brilliant ideas, one of which included building the Ark of the Covenant out of boxes and mop sticks for a church activity
“It was a day to remember,” she said. After this, there were plenty of additional opportunities for her to create items at school and church. And from these experiences, she discovered her skills for making crafts and being creative.
Given her involvement in the work of the playschool, Mrs. Sanchara participated in many activities with her children and received an appreciation certificate from the school.
When they graduated and went to nursery school, Sanchara continued her active role and was elected to be the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) President of Better Hope Nursery School. Most of her days were spent there, assisting, supervising, and learning from the teachers and Head Mistress.
Sanchara then ventured into Montrose Primary School where she took up different positions in the school. She became a bible school teacher where she taught the children of Montrose primary school every Wednesday at lunchtime from the year 2008– 2010.
In 2010, Mrs. Sanchara relocated to Parafaite Harmonie with her family to live in their new home in the newly opened housing project on the West Bank of Demerara.
Her two children were then enrolled in the Parafaite Harmony Primary School. In this same year, she became the first Bible School Teacher at that school, and she taught a few hundred children once a week.
She began to gain recognition because of this, and a few parents would contact her personally seeking prayers.
The Better Hope Assembly of God (her former church) saw this as an opportunity to open an outlet through her building. The children and parents of the neighborhood were interested in attending Sunday School, which soon turned into a church.
Mrs. Sanchara began receiving requests from members of the church, parents of the primary school, and other members of the community for her to care for their child or children. This, along with her previously discovered passion for children, motivated her to establish her own school.
She was pregnant with her fourth child at the time, nevertheless, she challenged herself to finish part one of her childcare course.
This was done between May and September of 2011 at the University of Guyana, where she graduated with distinction.
She further went on to complete the childcare part 2 with Alpha Foundation College between May to September 2013 then after she graduated with honors.
Her certificates were then submitted to the Regional Board of Education with the Child Protection Agency in Region Three requesting permission to open a daycare.
Approval was granted after completing the guidelines given, and Unique Play School and Day Care was fully established.
Unique’s Play School and Day Care, now officially known as Unique’s Play School, Day Care, and Nursery Programme, was named after Sanchara’s only daughter, Younica , whom she cherishes.
The Proprietor also made it a priority to accredit all of her achievements to God, which is why the school is rooted in religion and is recognized as a Christian-based private school.
The initial uniform pattern, the school’s emblem and badge, the school’s motto, the school’s prayers, the school’s mission statement, vision statement, aims/goals, and philosophy are all well-known components of the institution.
On the 3rd of April 2012, Unique’s Play School and Day Care was proudly declared as open and completely operational.
The now renowned school started off extremely small with only four boys, by the names of Nathaniel, Omari, Infann, and Julieann along with one caregiver, who was Sanchara.
However, due to the lack of preschool facilities in the new housing scheme of Parfaite Harmonie, the school quickly gained recognition, and through recommendations, it began to grow rapidly.
By the month of September of that same year, 10 students were in attendance at the school, and by January of the following year, that number increased to seventeen students. The school went on to host its first graduation on the 29th of July 2013.
With each new class of students over the following few years, the school began to establish its own traditions.
The school strives to provide each child with a well-rounded experience, from Mashramani festivities, Easter hunts, and cultural appropriation days to summer splash fundraisers, Christmas tree light-ups, and Christmas parties. In the year 2014, the school had its first collaboration with Ms. Marva Hestick, the owner and founder of Alpha Foundation College, with whom Sanchara has a strong business and friendly relationship.
They did a few courses at the school, these included: sewing, cake decorating, and floral classes, which were offered to the parents of the school and other members of the community.
In the year 2016, the Ministry of Social Protection Agency in collaboration with the Child Protection Agency issued licenses to only 13 preschools in Guyana. Among them was Unique’s Play School. This was a huge accomplishment for the school, and it marked the start of a new era of growth and advancement.
The school offers four methods of teaching with the aim of helping young children grasp information.
Sanchara explained, “We teach them orally for children who are able to learn faster, we teach them through the books for children who can grasp easily using the books, we offer the tabletop activity where children grasp faster from the table, then we have the video teaching for children who learn better that way. We evaluate our children to see the best way to teach them because no two children learn exactly the same.”
Mrs. Sanchara also creates educational books for the students of her school, this agenda grew over the years and now she is able to publish her work.
The books are being distributed to regions Three, Four, Five, and Ten to assist preschool teachers in their school academia. Apart from this, Mrs. Sanchara has shared her creative ideas for preschoolers as the host of a television programme.
In 2017, Mrs. Robin Saith Martain, Head, Marketing and Sales at TVG channel 28, approached Sanchara, she was looking for cooperation to launch the Kids Today Leaders Tomorrow (KTLT) TV Show.
She was offered the role of host after being interviewed and led the show’s craft segment. The show was fantastic and aired across the country, as one of Guyana’s only local kids’ shows. The programme was temporarily halted owing to the COVID-19 outbreak. However, it was through that platform, that Sanchara got the opportunity to work with the Guyana Bank of Trade and Industry (GBTI) by teaching craft at their annual summer camp through the KTLT TV show.
The Bank was so impressed with her job that they hired her for three consecutive years.
She is appreciative of every experience she has had since it has allowed her to improve both professionally and personally.
As a result of the exposure, the school launched its online platform with the creation of its Facebook page “Unique’s Day Care/ Play School & Nursery Program”, and the YouTube Page “Unique’s Play School, Day Care & Nursery Program” Instagram Page.
Unique’s Play School is known for using its platform for good and giving back to the community. Evidence of this can be seen every year at Easter time when the school shares Easter hampers with 10 unfortunate families in the community and at Christmas when the entire school body visited an orphanage to bless the orphans with gifts.
Another instance of the school’s love and generosity was shown on the 3rd of August, 2019, when the preschool owner, along with her Assistant, visited an all-girls orphanage for an entire week to do craft and fun activities with them, and that same year, she visited the care for the elderly home, where she engaged them in many fun and creative craft activities.
Mrs. Sancahra also hosted online parental courses under Alpha Foundation College. This served the purpose of reaching out to parents during the pandemic to share knowledge on how to teach their child at home. This was done on October 3rd, 2020.
This year, Mrs. Sanchara created sensory books which offer young children activity-based learning instead of traditional teaching methods which sometimes prove difficult for young children to grasp information.
“What we have realized is that not all children will grasp information from the textbook, but we find ways to provide an activity for them and they are more interactive and they are able to learn at a faster rate,” she said.
With all the acquired knowledge, Sanchara continues to carry her school to higher heights and implements innovative techniques in her teaching system, which guarantees effective learning and development for each child.
With a determination for excellence and a stellar team by her side, the Teacher and preschool owner is happy to celebrate 10 years of service to her community and those that have entrusted her with their precious little ones.
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