Lake Tahoe native buys Dayton preschool, battles through virus

Cheyanne Neuffer
Owner of Dayton Valley Learning Center, Christina Davis (formally Christina Richardson).

Christina Davis was born and raised in Lake Tahoe. She graduated from George Whittell High School in 2006 and went on to complete a degree at University of Nevada, Reno.

After college, she worked as a stock-market fraud investigator in San Diego. Well into her career, she realized her passions were rooted in childcare since high school when she was the activity leader at Tahoe Beach Ski Club off Ski Run in South Lake Tahoe.

Davis felt her career was meaningful, but it didn’t light up her world like childcare.

In January 2020, Davis bought a preschool in Dayton, Nev. Dayton Valley Learning Center is a preschool and has before and after school programs. It has a capacity for 97 children with 17 staff members. Two months after opening, the coronavirus pandemic hit.

Dayton Valley Learning Center had a 20% drop in enrollment. During this time, Davis’s primary goal was to keep all 17 staff members working their usual 40-hour week schedule. To keep staff she started giving tasks like cleaning rotations to ensure hours could be kept.

Davis saw parents losing their jobs and parents were afraid to bring their kids to the care center. Davis said she could have laid off nearly 50% of her staff but did not want to.

Davis wanted to make sure the preschool stayed open so children were guaranteed a meal and supervision so parents who were “essential workers” could go back to work.

“This shows what a key role childcare is in the economy lifecycle,” Davis said.

Davis partnered with Lyon County School District to provide 30 meals two times a week to children. Davis also got Dayton Valley Learning Center labeled as an emergency childcare provider which means any essential workers who needed childcare could reach out to the preschool. Davis said she gave families with essential workers a priority for placement.

“Childcare has never been looked at from this perspective,” Davis said.

As things open up, Davis said she has seen an increase in enrollment. Davis has implemented new sanitation protocols for the center and implemented safe child drop-off procedures. Dayton Valley Learning Center offers care for children ages six weeks old to 5 years old and also offers beforeand after school programs for children ages 6-12 years old.

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