John and Yaroslav met 22 years ago in DC while Yaroslav—who was born in Russia—participated in a cultural exchange program. They fell in love and eventually John, a native of New York, moved to Russia. In 2002, they decided they wanted to live in the United States. The process proved difficult for Yaroslav because at the time John could not sponsor him since same sex marriage was not legal. Ultimately, Yaroslav had to go back to school and he eventually found a company that sponsored a work visa. Eventually they would marry once same sex marriage was legalized in 2013. They soon decided to start a family and with the help of a surrogate mother had fraternal twins. Today at almost two years old, Claire and Violet are now part of CentroNía’s early childhood education program.

Claire and Violet have been at CentroNía for six months now. John and Yaroslav are very happy to see their daughter’s accelerated learning and growing in the CentroNia early learning enviroment.

“Everyone at CentroNía is welcoming and accepting,” Yaroslav says. “From Moma the beloved security guard, to the receptionists, and teachers everyone makes us feel comfortable. We want our daughters to go here as long as they can,” said John.

John, Yaroslav, Claire, and Violet pose with Santa during Christmas season last year.

John and Yaroslav are not the only ones who are happy to be at CentroNía. Their daughters Claire and Violet have adjusted very well. At first they recall their daughters crying a lot whenever they would get dropped-off at school. Now they have a very different problem: their daughters want to stay at school instead of coming home! While this new independence makes Yaroslav a little sad, it’s reassuring to see that Claire and Violet are safe, happy, comfortable, and truly loved at CentroNía. They remember one time their daughter got sick and was taken to the hospital. Her teacher, Ms. Gildy, took the time on a Saturday to contact them to be sure she was doing better. This quality of care is what John and Yaroslav have come to expect from CentroNía.

CentroNía is providing much more than love, John and Yaroslav have witnessed progress in their development too. Before they started the program they were not speaking. Now they are starting to speak and even a few words in Spanish! Ms. Gildy has also been working on their fine motor skills—now they love to draw and make art. Claire and Violet are also learning to express their emotions, such as happy, angry, and surprised. They love it when their parents read the book about emotions.

As their daughters keep growing John and Yaroslav want to find a bilingual school where their daughters can continue to learn Spanish. For them, Spanish is a very important language to learn in the United States and they think this will be helpful for Claire and Violet later in life. Research shows there are many benefits to bilingualism/multilingualism, so at home they try to speak Russian while their daughters learn Spanish and English at school.

CentroNía is diverse and John and Yaroslav are happy to be part of a community that embraces their family and values all cultures. While they wish CentroNía extended beyond early childhood education, their hope is to create lasting relationships with the parents and staff they meet while Claire and Violet continue to learn and grow.