Freeman Holds Graduation for Learning Center’s First Class

Cap & Gown Ceremony for Students Heading for Kindergarten

Image Credit: Freeman Health System

(Joplin, MO) – Wearing caps and gowns, ten graduates came to the stage to receive their diplomas. But these graduates aren’t heading for medical school or college — they’re going to kindergarten! It’s graduation day at Freeman Learn Center (FLC), and parents are proud.

“Freeman Learning Center has given my son an opportunity to thrive in a loving environment while creating the foundation needed for his education,” said Jessica Liberty, Freeman Health System Manager Infection Prevention & Control. On Thursday, July 28, her son, Liam graduated with 10 other students, getting a certificate and handshake from Freeman Health System President and Chief Executive Officer Paula Baker.

“Freeman Learning Center is much more than a daycare center,” said Baker. “It offers structured play that engages children to help them grow intellectually, emotionally and socially. The vibrant environment is designed to stimulate children’s minds and foster a sense of curiosity and wonder.”

“They have integrated core concepts into his daily routine by intentional ‘toys,’ said Liberty. “This has allowed him to play and learn at the same time. His behavior disorders have added a level of complexity to his care, but the expertise and educational background of the staff at FLC have made this the very best fit for my son. We truly couldn’t have survived the last few years without FLC. They are intentional, compassionate and loving to my son.”

Freeman Learning Center opened in August 2020 welcoming eight children at the start from infants to five years old. The number of students has grown to 105.

“We use an educational program called The Creative Curriculum that provides continuity from one age group to the next,” said Freeman Learning Center Director Josh Sharp. “The children transition smoothly as they grow and progress, moving from the baby room to the one-year-old room, all the way up through the five-year-old room.”

Parent Brittany Garrett said the FLC learning environment is optimal for all children, and staff treat children with respect while balancing all personalities and emotions the come with caring for children.

“We have loved all the varieties in learning. Not only the ABCs and 123s, but the outdoor explorations, center play time and all of the wonderful crafts!” said Garrett. “I wish we had one more year, but all good things come to an end and new adventures begin! Thank you for loving, caring and growing our baby girl!”  

“We opened Freeman Learning Center not only to provide an exceptionally rich learning environment for preschoolers but also to make their parents’ lives a little easier,” said Baker. “As a working mother, I understand that a work-life balance can be difficult to achieve and the logistics of childcare can sometimes be daunting. Our vision for Freeman Learning Center is to simplify and improve the lives of our staff, and to alleviate some of the stress involved with driving back and forth to daycare.”

Parent Erica Messner works in Patient Accounts at Freeman and said finding the right childcare for your children can be a difficult process, but after touring FLC, she knew staff were as invested in the children as parents are.

“I know the people caring for my children while I’m at work are dedicated to keeping them educated, fed and safe,” said Erica Messner, Freeman Patient Accounts. “They often go out of their way to ensure the children’s needs are met. I will always be thankful for Freeman Health System offering childcare to their employees and for the wonderful Freeman Learning Center staff who love my children like their own.”

Baker said in the future, Freeman Learning Center will be adding care for older children and an after-school program as well.

About Freeman Health System:

Locally owned, not-for-profit and nationally recognized, Freeman Health System includes Freeman Hospital West, Freeman Hospital East, Freeman Neosho Hospital and Ozark Center – the area’s largest provider of behavioral health services – as well as two urgent care clinics, dozens of physician clinics and a variety of specialty services. In 2020, Freeman earned dozens of individual awards for medical excellence and patient safety from CareChex®, a quality rating system that helps consumers evaluate healthcare providers. U.S. News & World Report named Freeman Health System the Best Hospital in Southwest Missouri for 2020. With more than 320 physicians on staff representing more than 80 specialties, Freeman provides cancer care, heart care, neurology and neurosurgery, orthopaedics, children’s services and women’s services. Additionally, Freeman is the only Children’s Miracle Network Hospital in a 70-mile radius. For more information, visit


Lisa Olliges, Media Specialist
Freeman Health System

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