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Ovation Learning Center

Preschool And Childcare Gulfport 

Our mission is to acknowledge that there is not a mold that each child or family fits into perfectly. Ovation's vision is to prepare each child for future education without hindering their imagination and personality. Our students will flourish in the structure of our curriculum, yet relish in the fun of being a child. Getting your hands messy is required and knowing that M stands for Monet is normal. 

Gulf Coast Preschool with a Doctor Owner 

Decades ago, a young girl was asked to help in child care. It was small, but she was given great responsibility as a teacher’s aide. This girl found that she had a gift, and began babysitting for many families on the Coast. She began college to become a teacher, and worked other jobs but was continually pulled back into early education. After having her own son, she learned quickly of the need but her own school was only a dream.

Later, Brandy Mills became a childcare director working for others on their preschools, and their visions. But, she had her own ideas and her own wishes for the children of her community.


Mills finally decided to open her own school, picked out the land and was ready to start construction. Then Hurricane Katrina hit, and everything changed. After the storm, the Coast’s children had limited places to go, many were spending their days in campers, construction sites, and overcrowded surviving daycares. A building came open that was much too big for what she had envisioned for her own magical school. With the support of Mississippi State University and the Mississippi Health Department, she was encouraged to go ahead and open to fill the need. Soon, Ovation Learning Center, doors were opened for registration in December 2005, only months after the storm.


On February 1st, 2006, Ovation welcomed their first students. She found that they were struggling to deal with the trauma of living in the aftermath of Katrina. Mills joined Project Joy out of Seattle, as a trainer in play therapy for other early educators. The play was healing the student's recovery, and she began to hold sessions in her own school. Businesses suffered to stay open during this time, but she knew that the children being safe was all that mattered, even though the overhead was just too much. Soon, Ovation was the largest preschool on the Coast with the highest enrollment and became a Mississippi State model school for grants post-storm. In 2010, everything changed when the BP oil spill devoured the Coast job market. Suddenly, parents were out of work, the coast was suffering again and early education lost its importance. Mills decided to cut costs of her preschool, becoming the cheapest preschool on the Coast, while maintaining the largest building. This led to getting children back into the quality early education program that was becoming stronger every year.


With Senior Director, Jennifer Hickman, at the wheel, Mills was able to focus on needs that were out of her hands. Early intervention became a passion for the duo, yet there was no way that OLC could afford to bring on a person with that type of education. Mills decided to do it herself, returning to the University of Southern Mississippi to gain her bachelor's in Psychology. She fell in love with research, new methods, and the way that integrating her education into her preschool changed everything. Soon, when Hickman moved on in her career, Lanette Ladner took over as the Senior Director. At this time, Mills decided that the bachelors was not enough and went to get her Masters.


Ovation was struggling in the large building that was needed post-Katrina in 2012, so the decision was made to move to a smaller building. Once again, the building was not her idea, but it was cozy, warm, and safe. Soon, in the smaller school, Mills was able to focus on early intervention, foster child transitioning and special needs in a new way. Mills was hired to teach Child Development for USM, before graduating with her Masters. Ovation still held the first spot in priority. Always her baby, her passion, and the reason to keep pushing. With a Masters in Children and Family Science, Mills was able to understand the needs of her students completely and built a team that reflected those ideas and expectations. With limited space, Ovation stays full with a waiting list most of the year. Mills has one semester left before her classes are complete for her Ph.D. in Human Development and Family Science at Mississippi State University, the school that started it all. She is now teaching Graduate School for Wilmington University in Delaware and working on her dissertation. But, the ones that will benefit from this will be the students of Ovation.


Parents have always joked that Mills ran a tight ship, and that was before she was a Doctor. Ovation Learning Center will be the only preschool on the Coast owned by a Doctor. Having an early education advocate with this history is imperative to the children on the Gulf Coast. It does not always make it easy to own a school, since the children are the first priority at all times. But, now in her 13th year of graduating students ready to go off to big school, she seems to always find a way. Ovation is different because it is built on the belief that every child is unique, every child is a gift and the school is only as good as their teachers. Ovation’s teachers are some of the best in Early Education with extensive experience.

Ovation is welcoming in new students to take advantage of summer open spots. This group of students will have guaranteed slots for the always booked fall semester.



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What Our Parents Say....

I love Ovation!!!!!!!!

There is no other place I would want my children to be. The staff here is incredible, and respectful. The facility is nice, clean and spacious. Your child could also participate in other activities such as dance, tae-kwon doe and much more. Ovation is not just a daycare. It is a learning facility where your child will learn and grow.



Ovation has to be one of the best schools around. They love the children unconditionally. My child has changed so much since starting there in September. He has learned so much and I am truly thankful for them. The Director and staff treat us like family. Thank you so much for all you do! 


Local Treasure 

There are not enough words, As someone that is a true local. This is where you register your child, if you are lucky enough to get a spot in this center..TAKE IT. I cannot explain what Brandy, Jennifer, Leslie and So many other amazing staff have done for my two children. The owner listens and acts right away if there is an issue. Art classes, dance and we did it all. Not to mention after 5 years, my child was reading. There is a reason why the artists, teachers and military bring their children here..Because there is structure, creative time and intense education. Best part, they keep their prices so low, I do not know how Brandy does it...But, she gives those kids everything she can...and man it is priceless. And Ovation does things for the community, donating things to many of our raffles and sponsoring our oldest child's ball team. They are stellar members of the community and you should have the honor of them educating your child. It is something we are very proud of....Being the owners of one of the largest businesses on the coast, we know good business. These people, its all about the heart. You won't find that many other places. Stop.. you found your school. Good Luck! - 

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