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A Look Inside Nu Building Blocks Infant Center and Preschool

"Rebuilding America One Child at a Time" | The slogan of Nu Building Blocks Infant Center and Preschool is proudly displayed in the Reading Center. Staff members say it is a continuous reminder of who they are working for.
Audio Slide Show | Patricia Hardy and Larry Solomon, founders and owners of Nu Building Blocks, talk about their school and passion for educating children.
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By Schuyler Kenney

“Rebuilding America one child at a time.” This is the slogan Patricia Hardy and Larry Solomon, founders and owners of Nu Building Blocks Infant Center and Preschool, have created to guide their passion for the education of young children. Their slogan is displayed across the wall in the Reading Center of Nu Building Blocks, where students and staff alike can be reminded of why education and service are so important.

Hardy and Solomon are both natives to Los Angeles. They are married with children of their own, but they are foster parents as well. Before starting Nu Building Blocks, Hardy ran a child center and day care out of her own home. Now in the last 11 years, they have raised six families as well as their own two kids.

“I have a passion for children. People just need to take a moment with them to say hi and tell them everything is alright. Small things can mean a lot to small children,” Hardy said.

After running a successful program out of her home for many years, Hardy wanted something bigger. In 2007, Hardy and Solomon found an opportunity to open a preschool on Jefferson Boulevard. The couple came across a vacant building, where a Lock and Key had recently gone out of business after 55 years. Renovation began in July 2008, which took about a year a half. Nu Building Blocks opened during the summer of 2009.

Today Nu Building Blocks has nine full-time staff members and offers childcare and early education to infants and preschoolers.

“We teach strong science and math skills and most importantly reading,” Solomon said. “We’ve implemented a lot of proven programs, like the My Baby Can Read program and the A-BeKa program.” Both programs are designed to teach young children to read through phonics. The couple has even installed a reading corridor that stands four feet off the ground.

“We found out that if kids are four feet off the floor, they are supposed to learn to read faster and retain more. So we built it,” Solomon said.

The kids are served breakfast in the morning before they start their lesson at 8:30 a.m. Depending on the day, this lesson can include reading, writing, math, science and even cooking. Hardy and Solomon want to incorporate as many aspects of daily life as possible in an effort to create a “well rounded” student.

“Everything they do is a learning experience. They may be cooking, but at the same time they are doing math,” Hardy said.

Although Hardy and Solomon have a clear passion for children, they say running a school like this is not an easy task. Parents drop off their kids as early as six o’clock in the morning and pick them up as late as six o’clock in the evening.

“We get a lot of parents that work downtown and drop their kids off here because it’s a safe location and a secured site,” said Solomon. Hardy says their ultimate goal, along with providing a quality education to the children, is to provide a safe and trusted place where parents can drop their kids off.

“We try to create a trust relationship with the parents, but first we have to get the kids to trust us and to feel safe in our environment. Sometimes the kids end up crying because they don’t want to leave. We love that,” said Hardy.

Nu Building Blocks is the product of two people who share a love for children. Being born and raised in Los Angeles, they understand the importance of providing education, support and direction to inner-city kids. “A lot of these kids are deprived of a lot of things, education being one of the most important,” said Solomon. Their goal and hope is that their teaching and support can lead these children to a better and brighter future, which starts with college.

“All of the stats show that if a kid starts off reading in pre-school, he or she has an 80 percent or better chance that he or she will finish college. Thus, here we are. We’re rebuilding America one child at a time. That’s what we’re doing,” Solomon said.

Kids at Play | Three preschoolers sit together in the Nu Building Blocks Play Center.

Free Time | Several students talk amongst themselves after a lesson at Nu Building Blocks.

Infant Center | A child shows off his toy in the Infant Center in Nu Building Blocks.