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Big dreams for young minds

Teacher and daycare provider Mary Rotter plans to open Laker Prep Preschool, a preschool with after school daycare services, this fall in Detroit Lakes. She said it will be the first in the area that provides both services under one roof.

"Big success starts small." That's the mantra Mary Rotter will go by when she opens up the very first Prep Preschool in Detroit Lakes.

Rotter is a graduate of Detroit Lakes High School, and has been a kindergarten teacher and reading specialist for the past 10 years in St. Paul.

"But now that we're starting a family, we wanted to be an area that's good for raising children."

So, she is packing up her husband and 1-year-old son, and heading back home with a big idea.

Rotter plans to open Laker Prep Preschool in the fall in a facility located in the Industrial Park, near BTD and Snappy.

So what exactly is a Prep Preschool?

"It's an all day, every day preschool, which also offers after school care. So, it's a preschool/daycare all in one," says Rotter.

This one-stop-shop will be privately owned, but its schedule will closely follow the Detroit Lakes school's.

"We will concentrate on giving children the tools they need to succeed in school in a good, safe, high quality preschool."

Laker Prep Preschool will have a playground outside and one inside the 2,500 square feet facility. The cost of enrollment is $170 per student, per week.

The price includes meals, snacks, field trips, daily literacy and math lessons.

Although Rotter says she is not closed to the idea of half-time students, she hopes to have as many full-timers as possible.

"I really believe in consistency for these children. It helps us to be able to give them everything they need so that they can grow to their full potential and be ready and confident entering kindergarten," she says.

The school will be open to preschoolers who are one year away from being eligible for kindergarten.

Rotter hopes she will have around 20 students, which is a typical preschool class size.

She will be the certified teacher, and once she gets over 10 students, she will then hire an aid to help out.

Rotter says she is the only licensed daycare center registered in all of Becker County, and she believes she is filling a real need in the community.

"I think a lot of parents really need this one-stop-shop because it isn't always easy getting off work to bring your child to pre-school, picking them up, bring them to daycare, and then getting back to work."

Rotter says academics at a young age is so important, not only for the children, but for our society.

"Statistics say if every child were actually ready for kindergarten when they entered school, it would save the state of Minnesota millions of dollars every year. I think we can help that."

Rotter is taking enrollments now, and she will be holding an open house May 20 and 21.

Her plan is to open the week after Labor Day.

If you are interested in finding out more, you can log on to her website at