"Firebird Nest" off to an exciting start

John B. Crane
Devils Lake Journal

DEVILS LAKE – Christa Brodina had a knack for identifying problems and finding solutions as a lifelong educator. From her eight-year experience as a teacher and principal in Langdon to her more recent history as a director at Lake Area Career and Technology Center, Brodina developed an ability to not only work with kids but with young mothers and fathers, too. 

Over her nine+ years working in Devils Lake, Brodina recognized the persistent need for available childcare. And Brodina had personal experience to back up this claim, too – when Brodina moved her four kids to Devils Lake two years ago, her youngest was still in need of daycare service. The problem, however, was finding one with an open spot. 

By the sheer luck of the draw, an opportunity arose. As Brodina worked on changing a student’s schedule, the student’s mother came in and, by mere coincidence, worked at a daycare and was able to get Brodina’s youngest into the program two days shy of the first day. 

“I think it is a crunch in our community,” Brodina said. “Now, over the last couple of months, more stuff has opened because a lot of places have closed, too. So, I think it is still a need in this community. If you want to have a community that is growing and vibrant and bring in young teachers, you have to have a place for those children to go. Otherwise, we lose teachers because they quit and stayed home to take care of their own children because they had no daycare options.” 

To Brodina, another solution was desperately needed. 

"Firebird Nest" officially opened its doors on Sep. 27.

And so, “Firebird Nest” came into being. Located next to Devils Lake Public School and on Lake Region State College property, the cheerfully yellow-colored center opened its doors on Sep. 27. The building initially acted as a foster and boarding care center. 

The facility’s functions are wide-ranging. On the one hand, the facility will give young mothers and fathers in school the opportunity to stay in school and check on their kids between classes or during alternative parenting sessions. On the other, it provides an avenue for Devils Lake Public School employees to keep their younger kids during the day. Pre-school will also be available. Then, to top it all off, early education majors at Lake Region State will have the opportunity to enroll in internships and develop an in-person teaching experience at the site. 

Brodina, who acts as the head administrator of the facility, is excited about what is in store. 

“It has been fun,” Brodina said. “I am originally a high school and marketing teacher, so it has been fun for me to see it all come through. I am thinking we are going to have our first alternative baby here shortly. That sounds like it might come this way. It will be fun once we get up and running and get things moving.”

Once the program begins to fill up toward its licensed 50-kid capacity, the building will become livelier with laughter and happiness. Jordan Holtz, a coordinator at the facility who does everything from working with parents to making meal runs, is also eager for the new program’s future. 

“I just enjoy the kids and their stories, happiness and their hugs when I walk in the room,” Holtz said. “They get so excited when they see me.” 

For the sake of uniformity, the program will follow the same session as Devils Lake Public Schools. While the option for summer school has yet to be decided, Holtz believes the new program will allow her to connect with kids and become better accustomed to working out program logistics. 

“I want to become stronger at what I am doing,” Holtz said. “Being a coordinator is new for me as being one of the heads. But, I think I will do well with it.” 

As the baby cribs begin to fill up and the toys from the various storage closets begin to get used, Brodina believes the program will give families an opportunity they might not have had previously. 

To Brodina, it is all about family support, from one mother to another. 

“I had four children in five years, so daycare was such a need at our house for me to continue to my job and go back to school,” Brodina said. “To get where I am, I am just happy I can give this opportunity to some other family and give them an opportunity where they can trust dropping their children off, and they will be safe and well taken care of. It makes them do their job better in the long run. I am glad we can offer this. It is really exciting for me to see all this come through. It has been a long time of planning and a lot of work. It is a lot of fun seeing it happen.”