Alisha Gonzalez and Brenna McCann
Noah's Ark Child Development Center
1021 Hennepin Ave. S.
"Are those all yours?"
Believe it or not, Noah's Ark lead teachers Gonzalez and McCann get this question a lot, even with a buggy full of six babies of equal age.
Gonzalez's answer would be "No, only one of them." (That's her daughter Sofia, back left.)
You may have seen the teachers pushing the buggy along through the skyways, or leading a trail of rope-holding toddlers along Nicollet Mall when the weather is good.
Noah's Ark cares for infants to preschoolers, McCann said. Most are kids of Downtown employees, many from nearby Target Corp. Gonzalez said they sometimes pass by parents during their skyway walks.
The almost-daily walk is a high point of the job for McCann and Gonzalez. "It's good to get out," Gonzalez said. "Sometimes we're stuck in the baby room."
A lot of diaper-changing goes on there, which Gonzalez says is not a favorite part of the job. Other more pleasurable tasks involve feeding the kids breakfast, lunch and snack; play time; and nap time, which comes at least once a day for every age group.
Children arrive as early as 7 a.m., and some stay as late as 6 p.m. There are 80 kids on hand on an average day. The toddler-to-teacher ratio is 4:1, said Gonzalez.
Teachers work four 10-hour days, which "makes for a better work week," McCann said.
Both teachers said that there is not much turnover at Noah's Ark, a smaller organization with only one other location. McCann has worked there two years, Gonzalez five.
McCann, who is studying early childhood education, has 90 percent of her tuition paid through a University of Minnesota scholarship tied to her Noah's Ark work.
The daily walk can sometimes take longer than the planned hour. "We get stopped a lot," said Gonzalez. "Some people like to take pictures. Especially tourists, a lot of Japanese. They seem to get a real kick out of it."