For 40 Years, Home Is at the Heart of House at Pooh Corner

by 
Daphne Dennis, for the Shuttle
Teri DiCesare’s daughter, Jessie, the inspiration behind Pooh Corner.

In a world that’s constantly changing, celebrating 40 years as a local business is quite an achievement. Meanwhile, House at Pooh Corner daycare in Germantown is turning the corner into its fifth decade under the same ownership and in its original location. In late June, the center marked the occasion with a reunion and anniversary celebration.

Teri DiCesare, the owner of Pooh Corner, was a young mother in 1979, living in a big house on East Walnut Lane. She had her Master’s degree in childhood education and was happy in her chosen career, but she found herself frustrated by the lack of reliable daycare available for her two-year-old daughter, Jessie. 

“Like most working mothers, I struggled with the necessity of leaving my child in daycare,” she recalled. “It was a dilemma that really hit home.”  

Home, the huge, three-story twin, was where DiCesare’s heart was, and what prompted her to take the giant leap of faith that changed everything. “I wanted my daughter to spend her childhood in a safe, nurturing environment where she could learn, explore, play and just be a kid,” she said. “Most daycares are in church basements or in storefront spaces with no opportunities for the children to experience the outdoors. I couldn’t find anyplace designed to meet children’s needs for freedom and a sense of security. Let’s face it — putting a cardboard cutout of Elmo in a window doesn’t make an uninviting space or a damp basement into a homey environment for children. That was when I had my Dorothy moment — that there really was no place like home.” 

Initially, Teri moved her family’s living quarters to the second and third floors, turning her first floor — with its side and back doors leading directly into the huge backyard — into a home daycare serving about a dozen local children of her daughter’s age. But word of mouth spread quickly, and within a few years, her house had become entirely devoted to the daycare. 

Today, Pooh Corner is bustling from top to bottom with children busy being children — socializing, playing, gardening, creating, and learning — all in a house that proudly maintains its roots as a home. The center employs a handful of teachers who have been there since the center opened its doors in 1979, and many former Pooh Corner students have chosen to enroll their own children. DiCesare calls these her “legacy kids.” Included in that category are her two grandsons: Luke, who graduates this year, and baby Noah, both children of the first Pooh Corner kid, Jessie.

For more information on House at Pooh Corner, check out www.houseatpoohcornerdaycare.com.