About HKDC

A nurturing, trustworthy, clean and developmentally appropriate environment.


I began working with children in high school. I took Early Childhood courses and volunteered at our local childcare center. After school I worked at a program as a group leader for school-age children. It is during this time I realized that working with children was my passion and calling in life. I went on to attend college and worked at a childcare center as a floater. This was a great experience because I got a chance to work in all classrooms. I have over twenty years of experience in Early Childhood Education and have worked in several large childcare facilities. I have gained valuable knowledge from each center and feel that they have all played a part in helping me become the educator that I am today. While I am thankful for each experience I feel that I have finally found my home here at Happy Kids.

I believe strongly in preserving childhood and place a great emphasis on the importance of play.

On the weekends you will find me cheering my little one on at soccer games and enjoying time with my family.

Christy Dicksey
Director of Happy Kids Development Center

I began working at Happy Kids Development Center in 2005. My roles have been many during my tenure here at HKDC. I have been an assistant teacher in the Nursery and the Two Year Old classroom. When I received my North Carolina Credentials I and II for Early Childhood Education, I took the position of Lead teacher in the Toddler classroom for three years. I worked with Miss Rhonda, the owner, for many years and I received hands on training from her. It gives me great pleasure to care for each and every child here at Happy Kids. I truly love my job!  I think the best part of my work is getting to go into each classroom and interact with the children. They amaze me each and every day, from the things they say to the complex ways they play. I know that a good foundation is important. Happy Kids is just that and I consider myself lucky to be a part of such a successful program for children.

Misty Richard
Assistant Director, Happy Kids Development Center.

Our Curriculum

Reggio Emilia – Inspired Philosophy

What does it mean to be “Reggio-Inspired?” The Reggio Emilia approach to early childhood education was developed from a city-sponsored educational system serving children up to age six, in a town in northern Italy bearing that name. The Reggio Emilia educational system is commonly recognized as one of the best programs for young children worldwide. International study groups of educators from around the globe journey to Italy annually to get a first-hand glimpse of this exceptional philosophy in action. Because in Italy this approach is integrated into the fabric of the local government, community, and its people, it cannot be replicated exactly in the United States. However, to be “Reggio-Inspired” is to adopt the core values and beliefs of this approach to educating young children. Such principles include:

The Image of the Child
We view every child as strong, capable, independent, curious, and full of imagination. We empower children to think, question, investigate, explore, and help navigate the journey of learning.

Emergent Curriculum
Teachers observe and document the interactions, discussions, and fascinations of children. By developing learning opportunities from these observations, the curriculum “emerges” from children’s interests and ideas.

Project Work
Our educators deliver this emergent curriculum through project work, which allows children to explore these areas of interest in detail. Teachers are thoughtful about introducing a broad range of opportunities, from art to music to early language, math, science and nature experiences, in support of the project. By exploring projects of children’s interest in great detail, children are excited by the learning process. This enthusiasm for knowledge, combined with the ability to experience project work in detail, will foster a predisposition for “life-long” learning.

The Role of the Teacher
The teacher is viewed as a partner in learning, with the children. By listening, observing, and documenting children’s work, the teacher is equipped to guide children’s learning experiences, and “co-construct” knowledge.

The Role of the Environment
The environment of the school (its classrooms, common spaces, and playground) is viewed as the “third teacher.” The environment should be a reflection of the children, teachers, and parents who live and learn there. It should be thoughtful, imaginative, enticing, and respect the image of the child.

Parental Involvement
Learning takes place not just within the school, but also at home and throughout the community. We encourage parents to participate in project work, special events, and the daily life of the school. We seek an integrated learning community, where teachers, parents, and administrators work together to meet the needs of the children.

By documenting the children’s work through photographs, video, written word, displays, etc, teachers tell the story of the children’s early childhood experiences.  Every child has their own ePortfolio, consisting of artwork, photographs, information related to developmental milestones, and more . Lesson plans, project boards, and Daily Highlights explain the work of the children, and communicate the life of the school to the community.

Conscious Discipline
Here at Happy Kids Development Center we use Conscious Discipline in our classrooms as a tool for classroom management and social/emotional learning. Dr. Becky Bailey is the developer of Conscious Discipline and is also the founder of Loving Guidance Inc., a company dedicated to creating positive environments for children, families, schools and businesses. Conscious Discipline is based on current brain research, child development information, and developmentally appropriate practices. Conscious Discipline addresses the adults emotional intelligence as well as the child’s. It empower’s the adults to consciously respond to daily conflict, transforming it into an opportunity to teach critical life skills to children.

The Seven Powers for Conscious Adults

The Foundation of Safety

  • Power of Perception- No One can make you angry without your permission.
    • Goal: Take responsibility for our own upset and, in turn, teach children to be responsible for their own behavior.
  • Power of Unity- We are all in this together.
    • Goal: To perceive compassionately, and offer compassion to others and to ourselves
  • Power of Attention- What we focus on, we get more of. When we are upset, we are always focused on what we don’t want.
    • Goal: To create images of expected behavior in a child’s brain.
  • Power of Free Will: The only person who can make a change is yourself.
    • Goal: Learning to connect and guide instead of force and coerce.
  • Power of Acceptance- The moment is as it is.
    • Goal: To learn to respond to what life offers instead of attempting to make the world go our way.
  • Power of Love- See the best in others.
    • Goal: Seeing the best in others keeps us in the higher centers of our brain so we can consciously respond instead of unconsciously react to life events.
  • Power of Intention- Mistakes are opportunities.
    • Goal: To teach a new skill rather than punishing others for lacking skills we think they should possess by now.

Happy Kids Development Center

Philosophy of Discipline

Happy Kids administers an Authoritative-style of discipline.  We set and maintain reasonable, fair limits and closely supervise and monitor the children’s activities. The environment is warm and nurturing with realistic expectations from children of different ages. Our philosophy is that of persuasion, not force. Our staff is trained to use developmentally appropriate discipline strategies. These strategies focus on teaching, not on punishment. Reasons are communicated in simple clear words. Directions to the children are given in a reasonable but firm manner by the staff. This helps children achieve competence. The most basic need for children is safety and security. An authoritative caregiver who uses positive discipline strategies in discipline encounters helps children feel both psychologically and physically safe. The caregiver clearly communicates rules that say, “There are natural consequences for all actions.” “Good choices and Bad choices.”

We speak to children respectfully and do not degrade or demean them. Children take responsibility for their own actions when they have good role models of self-responsible behavior. Our staff is non-judgmental when working with the children in their care.

The center’s long-range goal in guiding children is to help them achieve self-control. We want them to regulate their own behavior and to behave appropriately in school for many years to come. Children develop the ability to regulate and control their behavior when they interact with warm and supportive adults who use positive discipline. Positive discipline strategies help children learn to regulate their behavior because they model self-control, clearly communicate their expectations that children will show age appropriate self-control, give specific information on how children control themselves and to recognize and encourage children who act in an age-appropriate manner.

Social interaction helps children gradually become less egocentric and more empathic because contact with other children and adults exposes them to ideas different from their own. The ability to see things from another perspective is a cognitive developmental skill that begins to develop in early childhood but does not develop automatically. One of our goals as early childhood educators is to help children develop authentic self-esteem and a core of personal values that guides them to believe in the rights of others to dignified fair treatment. Competence, confidence and a sense of worthiness are the cornerstones of positive self-esteem. It takes time and effort to use positive discipline strategies, and children who experience positive discipline view themselves as worthy of an adult’s time and effort.