Joni McElveen and Jill Blair are sisters and partners in the childcare industry, along with their longtime friend, Janis Doan. Joni began working at Creative Children’s Center as a Pre-K teacher, and Jill soon joined her. Over time, Joni was promoted to Director, and together with Jill, they handled the day-to-day operations of the business.
The owner of the daycare gave the sisters free rein to run the business as they saw fit, and they both identified with the idea of entrepreneurship should it present itself. The owner unexpectedly sold the center, and the new owner made significant changes, which led to Joni and Jill’s departure. Many parents were unhappy with the changes and sought out Joni and Jill, including one in particular, Janis Doan.
The three of them formed a team and decided to open their own center. It took six months and many prayers, but on November 14, 1994, the door opened to Noah’s Ark Early Development Center. On that Monday morning, the center was at 80% capacity, and Noah’s Ark began its journey. Over the years, they have added two more facilities that have recently sold. The main location in Forney on FM 1641 is still under Jill, Joni, and Janis’s ownership and remains true to the Christian values for which they stand.
Jill, Joni, and Janis never imagined that 20 years later, they would own a thriving network of childcare facilities. In all things, they have relied on their faith in God to guide their hands and decisions.
Noah’s Ark celebrated 25 years in business in November of 2014. During this time, the three friends have become incredibly close, encompassing their children, and now grandchildren.
None of the success enjoyed by Noah’s Ark would have been possible without the incredible contributions of many wonderful employees, as well as so many families that Noah’s Ark has had the privilege to serve.
I have been employed with Noah’s Ark for over 20 years and have served as Director since 1998. I began my career working with children when I was 20 years old. Prior to my daycare career, I worked within the Forney Independent School District for five years.
I’ve been married for over 37 years to Kenneth Sanders, and we have six wonderful children and 11 grandchildren. My love for children and my strong desire to help them is what inspired me to become a foster parent. As a family, we love taking our children, grandchildren, and foster children on camping trips. These trips give our family the opportunity to enjoy each other’s company. During my spare time, I enjoy reading and watching movies.
My passion has always been to help and serve children of all ages. This passion led me to pursue a position in Early Childhood Education. Since I became the Director at Noah’s Ark, I’ve been very active in the field of education and maintain my training through continuing education classes. This training allows me to assist our staff throughout the year.
As an Early Childhood Director, my goal is to provide a safe and happy environment for each child enrolled at Noah’s Ark. We want to stimulate the physical, intellectual, multicultural, social, and emotional growth at their own pace. My staff and I offer loving care that focuses on each child as a unique and wonderful individual, and in doing so, we build their self-esteem and teach them how important it is to respect yourself and others.