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Contributed photo by Amy Weatherly / Signal Mountain Preschool is expected to open this fall in the old Olive Bean Natural Grocery and Cafe on James Boulevard.

Signal Mountain may have a new full-day preschool this fall if the owners of the former Olive Bean Natural Grocery and Cafe space are successful in rezoning the property at 1404 James Blvd.

The former cafe is currently zoned Community Commercial District, which does not allow preschools. Owners are in the process of rezoning it to Office District, a district that is actually more restrictive in terms of use but allows for the operation of a preschool, said Town Manager Boyd Veal.

The adjacent property is already zoned Office District, he said.

Amy Weatherly said she plans to open Signal Mountain Preschool, a curriculum-driven preschool in an academic setting for kids age 2 to Pre-K, starting this fall.

Only a full-day program, held from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., will be offered, she said.

The preschool has the capacity for 40 children, although Weatherly said she won't be maxing out the space. Students will be separated into 2-, 3- and 4-year-old classrooms.

The demand is so high in the area for a full-day preschool program that she already has 10 children waitlisted for this fall, she said.

Weatherly has a master's in speech pathology, and has worked with kids with special needs for 15 years as a speech pathologist specializing in pediatrics. That experience has given her the skills to adapt her curriculum for children's individual learning needs, making the program flexible for kids with ranging backgrounds, she said. Her curriculum also employs many techniques and strategies focused on language.

The idea to start the preschool came about when Weatherly moved to Signal Mountain this past summer from Dallas, Texas, for her husband's corporate job and she wasn't able to find a full-day preschool program for her 3-year-old daughter. When he was let go from his job just after the move, he started teaching geometry at Signal Mountain Middle/High School, freeing his wife to work longer hours while he watched their 12- and 15-year-old children.

"The job was a vehicle to get here, but since then all these doors have opened," said Weatherly. "It's such an exciting thing for us to be putting down roots in the community."

A second reading and public hearing for the rezoning ordinance, which passed unanimously on first reading, will be held during the town council's Feb. 24 meeting.

To learn more about Signal Mountain Preschool, visit tinyurl.com/SignalMountainPreschool.

Email Emily Crisman at ecrisman@timesfreepress.com.

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