(Above, left to right) Ed Engle, Clinton Township Building Inspector; Josh Tejkl, Premier Bank Commercial Lender; Kevin Cornish, Village of Clinton Manager; Kyle Clegg, son of Tracy, Kaitlyn Zeller, daughter of Tracy, Basil Greenleaf, Clinton Township Supervisor; Mark and Tracy Pilbeam, owners of Friends and Family Daycare; Bronna Kahle, State of Michigan House of Representatives for District 57; Matt Dilley, General Contractor; Mark and Becky Goedert, General Contractor; Tim Swope, State Daycare Licensing Agent
By Mike Walters
June 13, 2021: Clinton, MI -- The long anticipated new childcare center in Clinton -- Friends and Family Daycare -- officially opened its doors Sunday with a grand opening ceremony at the newly remodelled building at 11701 Tecumseh-Clinton Road in Clinton Township.
“I’m impressed with the whole setup,” said Betty Oesterling, a former Clinton Elementary teacher. “From an educational aspect, there’s a lot that will attract kids.”
Oesterling, with her husband Howard, expressed amazement over the transformation to the building, which they once owned. Originally a chicken coop, the structure was converted into a union hall for workers at Lenawee Stamping, according to Howard Oesterling of Clinton, who then bought the building and converted it into a rental hall that he dubbed “Where Friends Meet.” The building remained a rental hall and changed hands a couple times before being purchased by Tracy and Mark Pilbeam.
After months of work, inspections, and more hard work, the Pilbeam’s vision became a reality.
“It’s always been a dream of mine to open a center and to be able to help many more families,” said Director and Owner Tracy Pilbeam. “Plus, my daughter, Kaitlyn, is studying early childhood education, and it’s my dream to set it up so that one day, when I retire, Kaitlyn will be in a position to take over my legacy.”
For Pilbeam, choosing to invest in Clinton was an obvious choice.
“I have always loved Clinton,” she said, “and I have felt that there was a huge need for a daycare center in Clinton. My Center is perfectly located for families traveling to work outside of the Lenawee County area.”
“It’s really great to have a new business. It’s something Clinton needs,” said Clinton Township Supervisor Basil Greenleaf. “I’m really happy they chose Clinton Township. Mark and Tracy invested a lot of money and have faith in our community to do such a project.”
Pilbeam brings almost 30 years of experience to the business, including four years of work in a Montessori setting. Her goal is “for each and every child to excel in their individual classes and curriculums and to prepare each child with a very structured and sound foundation to begin their young lives with and to build off from for many years to come.”
Pilbeam has her staff set, anchored by Amber Flores of Britton, who has worked 3 years in home child care with Pilbeam and who now heads the infant care room with Kennedy Sinks and Riley Marken as her assistants.
“It’s gonna be a big change from the home child care,” said Flores.
The toddler room lead teacher is Kristen Williams of Adrian, who has been teaching since 2017. Kayla Harvey of Clinton will be her assistant teacher.
Jordan Campbell of Manchester is the pre-toddler teacher.
In the preschool room (ages 3 to 5 years), Elena Mooningham is the lead teacher. She has an associates degree and over six years of experience in childcare. Hannah Duval of Blissfield will be her assistant. The pair will also operate the summer latchkey program, according to Duval.
“I’m excited,” said Duval. “I’ve been waiting for it to open.”
Official hours of operation for Friends and Family Daycare are 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.