• Joe Pace

Granite State of Mind, #21: Appleseeds Day School, Exeter


He has more hair now.

On October 15, 2001, I was midway through my first term on the Board of Selectmen in Exeter. At our meeting that night, we heard a proposal from Warren Henderson and the Rockingham Economic Development Commission regarding a Community Development Block Grant from the state to help support the opening of a new child care center on Hampton Road. As a Board we endorsed the application for the roughly $300,000 grant that the REDC subsequently loaned to this startup enterprise. Appleseeds Day School would open its doors some six months later, creating 20 new jobs and providing early childhood education options for more than 100 children in the community. At the time of the meeting, I was 26 years old with no children of my own, and no real intention of acquiring any in the near future, but I did know that more jobs and more child care capacity were good things for the town.

Fast forward to summer 2008, nearly seven years after the meeting. I was midway through my third and final term on the Board, but a whole lot had changed - Bobby was six months old and Sarah was headed back to medical school. We were able to enroll Bobby at Appleseeds, where he would spend much of the next two years. He was always happy there (that's one of his "class pictures" attached to the post) with the warm, generous, caring, and competent teachers and staff at Appleseeds. I also enjoyed how close to home the school was, strapping Bobby into the jogging stroller for the morning mile-and-a-half runs from home each morning during my earliest running efforts.

Had we not begun our exile in summer of 2010, he likely would have remained there, joined by his younger brother Xavier, until old enough to head to kindergarten. More than once in the years that followed, navigating the sometimes impersonal universe of military child care, we found ourselves wishing the boys were back on Hampton Road. I have to give credit to Kelly Standen and Katie Gilmore Rose for their hard work, vision, and passion in following their dream. I know my kid is just one of thousands who got off to a great start at Appleseeds. More than fifteen years later, what began as your idea is still a robust and vibrant contributor to the local community and economy. It's a great example of what private-public partnerships can do, of how state and municipal governments can help entrepreneurs leverage resources to create jobs and deliver needed services. Worth noting - Appleseeds long since repaid that original loan in full, and those funds continue to circulate in the region helping grow new business ventures. Man, I love a success story.

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