About Us

Child First Curriculum

We understand every child is unique and grows at their own pace. We nuture their strengths and encourage their growth.

Mission Statement

To ensure the health, safety and well-being of each child in our care while also creating a loving environment to learn and grow.

Our trained and qualified staff teach through a theme-related, goal-oriented program. We provide each child the opportunity to develop intellectually, socially, creatively and independentaly. We also work on positive self image, courteous behavior, and respect for one another.

If you are interested in knowing more, please contact us, we would love to further discuss our curriculum, goals and programs with you.

• Meet Our Staff •


Welcome To The Small World!

I am Julie Jacobson Heaton the Owner and Director. I was born and raised here in Idaho Falls. My mother and father (Carol and Jerry Jacobson) were both educators and convinced me that becoming a teacher was the best profession around (they were right!)

I attended BYU-Provo and Ricks College (BYU-I) but completed my Bachelor of Arts Degree at Idaho State University in Elementary Education in December of 1985 and just a few months later had my 3 rd child. It was at that time that we found this fun old hospital (Spenser Hospital, the first official hospital in Idaho Falls/Idaho Falls clinic) and decided to turn it into The Small World Child Care Center (May of 1986). I continued my education receiving an endorsement in Special Ed in 1988.

What a journey and rewarding experience it has been. The past 28 years have brought such joy and happiness, as well as the normal challenges, to my life. Not only was I able to raise my four children here, along with many others, but now I also get to have my grandchildren here and children of children that attended years ago. My daughter has always said, “What better occupation is there than to be able to play with and make a difference in the life of a child. I agree!

Assistant Director/Discovery Club Teacher

Hello, I’m Melissa Heaton Ferguson. I was born and raised here at The Small World, well almost. My mother, Julie Heaton, opened The Small World in May of 1986 and I was born in September, an hour and a half after she left work. I attended The Small World from that day on.

In 2005 I graduated from Idaho Falls High school then attended BYU-I for the next two years majoring in Recreational Leadership and a minor in dance. In 2007 I got married and moved to California. We moved back in 2008 and I again returned to work at The Small World.

I have worked with all ages and am currently the Assistant Director and Discovery Club (after school program) teacher. I have three wonderful and challenging little boys who have also been raised here by an amazing staff. I love working with the parents, staff and children and watching them grow and develop. Each and every child is so unique and different. They bring such joy to my life. Thanks for lending us your children.

Our Classroom & Teacher Standards

Caring & Passionate

The teachers at The Small World are passionate about your child’s happiness, growth and development, and provide a safe, secure and nurturing environment that cultivates self-esteem. This is more than a job for our teachers. It is an opportunity for them to share their passion for life while they inspire, engage, and motivate the desire to learn inside each and every child.

Highly Trained Teachers

Every teacher is enrolled in the Idaho Stars professional development program. This program requires each teacher to complete 15 hrs of training per year in the field of child development or early childhood education. Together we take class, learn, and apply the concepts we have acquired. Our teachers are dedicated to developing your child’s individual needs.

Small Class Size

Our low student to teacher ratios allow teachers to focus on the individual learning styles and needs of each child in our center.


My name is Jolene Hartleben. I was born, raised and attended school in the Rigby, Idaho area. I spent 2 years at Ricks College (BYU-I) in Elementary Education. From 1984-1986 I served an 18 month mission in Minneapolis, MN for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

In the fall of 1986 I returned to MN and was employed in child care until 1991. In the fall of 1992 my husband and I returned to the Rigby, Idaho area. I continued to work in childcare centers. In the spring of 1994 I began working at The Small World.

I have had many positions: Preschool teacher, Discovery Club (after school) teacher, Driver, and Chef. I am currently the cook (chef) and do after school drives.