Caribou day care provider reflects on 30 years of serving children

10 months ago

CARIBOU, Maine — Taking care of children is not an easy task, but for Theresa Dube, it’s the work she feels meant to do.

Dube is nearing 30 years of operating Theresa’s Daycare from her home on Washburn Street in Caribou. Along the way she has served at least 250 children, many of whom are now grown and have children of their own.

No matter what generation you’re talking about, children’s imaginations never cease to impress her, Dube said.

“There’s never a dull moment, I can tell you that,” Dube said, as six of her current daycare children played in the next room. “They always surprise me with all the different ways they can play.”

Dube’s journey began in October 1993 when she was 26. She had recently given birth to her oldest daughter, Renee, and knew she wanted to be a stay-at-home mother. But Dube, who had earned a degree in elementary education, still liked the idea of working with children.

So she started her own day care. 

“I had one child at first because I had my newborn at home,” Dube said. “Then things started happening very quickly. After four months, I had a full house.”

Like a lot of home-based day cares and larger centers, Dube usually has a long wait list of children, which sometimes can extend past a year. She currently cares for 10 children who consider her home to be theirs in many ways.

Over the years Dube has strived to be a trusting adult to the children for whom she has provided care. Even when children misbehave, Dube knows that patience goes a long way in helping them learn.

“They know that there’s no name calling or lying here. They clean up after themselves when they’re done eating and ask to be excused,” Dube said. “You have to be patient and know that they’re kids. They’re going to break rules but that’s how they learn.”

CARIBOU, Maine — July 29, 2023 — Theresa Dube (center) poses with two of her day care children, Addyson, 8, (left) and Annabel Ginish, 6, before the Caribou Cares About Kids parade. Dube has operated Theresa’s Daycare in Caribou for nearly 30 years. (Melissa Lizotte | Aroostook Republican)

No matter what happens, Dube remains compassionate and caring when talking with children, said Pam Ginish of Caribou.

Ginish’s daughters Addyson, 8, and Annabel, 6, both began attending Theresa’s Daycare not long after they were born.

“She’s very caring. She treats all the children like they’re her own,” Ginish said.

Ginish and her daughters recently joined Dube’s current children and more than 30 of her alumni for the annual Caribou Cares About Kids parade. Dressed in Theresa’s Daycare T-shirts, the group waved to a crowd of thousands while riding a potato-themed float. They later won “Best Theme” for their float.

For Dube, the best part was reuniting with children who have grown to adults. Even today, her alumni reach out to her as teens or adults for advice or just to catch up, she said.

Or when they’re teenagers riding their bikes and need a little bandaging up. 

Dube recalled one teen boy who had not been in day care for years but remembered exactly where to go when he needed help.

“One day he came by and said, ‘I fell off my bike and need a Band-Aid,'” Dube said. “So I cleaned him up and off he went.”

Another one of Dube’s favorite memories involves the “Dube Bus.”

Years ago, Dube found out that some of her day care children were getting in trouble during the hourlong bus rides before arriving at her house. To eliminate the children’s wait time, Dube picked them up after school.

“It was a little blue van and when the kids saw it, they would holler, ‘It’s the Dube Bus!'” Dube said.

For former day care children like Ethan Albert, 20, of Woodland, Dube’s compassion shows in the ways she mentors children.

“Kids need a lot of shaping. I know when I was a kid I could be needy but [Dube] always listened. She puts kids first,” Albert said.