Women do incredible things. This section features the stories of women who are a part of the Southeast Missouri community by way of living here, being from here or passing through. We hope these stories inspire you to connect with others and that they encourage you to be who you are in the world. We need you and your unique gifts.
At Little Oaks Learning Center in Oak Ridge, Rachel Seyer and Emma (Hemmann) Rohde are living their dream of owning and operating their own daycare together. The pair have been best friends since they met in kindergarten at Oak Ridge School and say they are like “sisters in the best way.” They feel like they are a part of each other’s families.
“I don’t remember a time that we weren’t always together,” Emma says.
The friends say they have talked about opening their own daycare since they were in middle school and have collected toys for it throughout the years. Emma studied child development at Southeast Missouri State University; Rachel earned her associate’s degree in education. They both worked at different daycares before working together at a daycare in Perryville, Missouri. This, they say, was helpful because they could work on their business plan for their own daycare during the children’s naptime.
Their dream started becoming reality during the summer of 2018, when they met with a SEMO representative to create a business plan and started talking about loans with a bank. The land along Highway D that their daycare now sits on came up for sale, and they built their building, opening for business in May 2019. Now, they have 13 children who attend from Oak Ridge, Perryville and Jackson.
With the kids, the pair says they emphasize play and working together and also have storytime and make craft projects. They enjoy spending time with the children and watching them grow, and love that they get to watch their nephews, who also attend the daycare, grow. They are excited about each of their own children getting to attend the daycare someday.
“It’s the same thing every day in a way, but it isn’t,” Rachel says. “The kids make it interesting, the things they say.”
The pair say that from the first day they opened the day care, they have fallen into a groove with their roles there; when one of them gets finished with mopping or cooking, they’ll jump in to help the other. It’s not surprising, since it’s not uncommon to hear the two finish each other’s sentences.
Rachel starts the thought. “It’s so weird, but–”
“–it just goes,” Emma finishes.
In addition to spending time with the kids, they also love getting to spend their work days with each other.
“You know, people are always like, ‘Oh, after elementary you aren’t going to be friends or after middle school or high school,’ and it’s like we knew [they were wrong],” Rachel says.
Emma agrees, while she plays with one of the smallest children at the daycare. “Who gets to work with their best friend?” she says.