Writer / Ann Craig-Cinnamon
Another school year is upon us, and with it comes analysis of the job we, as a community, are doing in educating our children, especially at a preschool level. Are we properly preparing them for what lies ahead in their schooling? We spoke with several experts in the field of preschool education for this special section on education.
The Goddard School
The Goddard School is an early childhood education provider with more than 460 franchised schools in 36 states and hundreds of markets, including the Indianapolis area, reaching more than 65,000 students. For 30 years, the Goddard School has taught children from 6 weeks to 6 years old. Their slogan is “Learning for fun. Learning for life.” Each Goddard School is individually owned and operated.
Megan Greek has owned and operated her school, the Goddard School City Center in Carmel, for four years. She says her catalyst for buying a Goddard School was her own three children. “My two younger boys still attend my school, and my measure of every classroom is whether I would be happy with my own children attending. My oldest son graduated from our Pre-K program two years ago and has been very successful,” she says. “I believe his time at The Goddard School was great preparation for elementary school. We are an incredibly nurturing school that believes children must be happy and safe before they can learn.”
Greek says that teachers are their most important asset. “The Goddard School is different from other schools in that all of our Lead Teachers hold a degree in Education. Families can be assured that this is a career choice for our teachers, and it lends more professionalism and investment to the classroom,” says Greek.
West Carmel Goddard Schools’ on-site owners Lynn and Joe Newkirk have owned their school for four years. They, too, say they appreciated the benefits The Goddard School offered their children. “When we ask parents what makes The Goddard School in West Carmel different, we consistently hear ‘the teachers,’ says Lynn. “Plus, our school also offers a unique outdoor experience with the Eco Lab, Gardens and Outdoor Classroom, in addition to the age-appropriate playgrounds.”
Lynn says parents are attracted to the West Carmel Goddard School because it offers a safe, loving and nurturing environment with a wide variety of enrichment programs, including STEAM learning activities that allow children to explore Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Math. “We know The Goddard School prepares children for future success,” she says.
Established in 1982, Primrose Schools is a national system of accredited private preschools that provides early education and childcare experience for children and families. Primrose has 350 schools in 29 states, including Indiana. Primrose Schools live by the motto, “Forging a Path That Leads to a Brighter Future for All Children.”
Leslie Brezette and Ron Habenicht have been the franchise owners at the Primrose School at Anson- Zionsville since 2010. Their school
accepts children from 6 weeks to full day Kindergarten and before- and after-school care. Leslie, who has a master’s in Education and taught for eight years in the Hamilton Southeastern Schools District, says her passion for early education brought her to Primrose.
“I continue to be impressed by our exclusive balanced learning approach. What makes it different from other such schools? Our people, our commitment to service excellence and our exclusive Balanced Learning approach,” she says. “Balanced Learning is a comprehensive approach that nurtures intellectual, creative, physical and social-emotional development through an inquiry-based early learning cycle that encourages discovery through questions, exploration and creative problem-solving.”
Scott Smith and his wife, Mindy, own and operate both the Primrose School of Carmel and Primrose School at Gray Eagle. They opened Gray Eagle in 2007 and Carmel in 2010. Both Smiths have multiple degrees in Mechanical Engineering and in Business. In moving from Colorado, where their son was enrolled in a Primrose School, to Indiana where there were no Primrose Schools, they eventually decided to open their own. Scott says it quickly became the most rewarding thing they had ever done.
“We were not only able to provide this great learning environment for our own children, but we were also able to partner with hundreds of families to give their children the same loving and educational experience that we wanted for our own children,” says Scott. “We operate our schools with the ‘do what’s right and the rest will follow’ mantra. The children are always our top priority.”
Scott says that early education is important. “Research consistently shows the importance of early childhood education on a child’s future success. During these years, children actually develop what we refer to as the ‘electrical wiring’ of their brains. The connections that get used are strengthened, and those that are not used are pruned away. At Primrose, we are continually keeping children engaged, active, curious and challenged in a way that helps them develop a strong neural network,” he says.
Julie and Bryan Bowman are the owners of the Primrose Schools at WestClay, Bridgewater and West Carmel. Julie, with more than 12 years
of teaching experience in Hamilton Southeastern Schools, including as principal of Sand Creek Intermediate School, and Bryan, with an engineering and business background, say that Primrose is different. “Primrose curriculum is a balanced learning approach which is research-informed. It combines renowned early learning philosophers like Montessori, Piaget, Gesell and Vygotsky and also includes some best practices in current development studies,” says Julie.
“Learning should be fun and engaging for children.” They point out that Primrose offers Primrose Curriculum which includes eight different learning domains, plus social, emotional, physical, creative, cognitive and character development. Primrose also has proprietary programs encompassing music, art, gardening, life skills and foreign language, which were all created exclusively for Primrose Schools.
Eye Level Learning Centers
The parent company of Eye Level was founded in South Korea in 1976 and began franchising in the U.S. in 1991. Eye Level was ranked #89 in Enterprise’s Franchise 500 in 2011. The Eye Level Math and English programs are based on the philosophy that successful learning takes place at the eye level of your child.
Rushyanth “Reddy” Yellala is the Eye Level of Zionsville Center Director and has owned the learning center for nearly a year. Reddy says Eye Level has been providing high-quality individualized math and English curricula for 40 years. “Eye Level Learning Centers offer individualized math and English programs that enhance students’ critical-thinking and problem-solving skills while building confidence and self-directed learning habits. Self-directed learning does not mean that the student learns alone. It simply means they ‘direct’ their learning. They take charge of it,” says Reddy. “Eye Level Math and English programs are based on the philosophy that successful learning takes place at the eye level of your child. By understanding the unique learning needs of each student, our instructors are able to set appropriate goals and tailor the curriculum to help the students attain them.”
Carmel Eye Level Center Director Sath Annamalai opened that center in 2014 because of a personal need. “I was looking for an after-school program for my kids where they look at the student level and provide the academic coaching when they need it, plus workbooks, and Eye Level came on top of my list. It is affordable and a primer program at an affordable price.”
Traders Point Christian Schools
Traders Point’s mission is to challenge and educate students within the framework of a biblical worldview while leading them to a personal faith and transformed life in Jesus Christ. The vision of Traders Point Christian Schools is: TPCS will prepare and equip students to reach their highest individual potential and impact the world for Christ.
Ryan Gallagher, Chief Advancement Officer at Traders Point Christian Schools, says they are the only private K-12 school in the northwest corner of the greater Indianapolis area. “Our school offers 21st- century facilities with small class sizes and a low student-to-teacher ratio, which allows us to educate each student according to their individual needs while enjoying the benefits of utilizing the space to grow relationships. We’re like a tight-knit family.”
He says the Traders Point programs teach and enrich even their youngest students. “Children grow by serving others. They learn by seeing the world through a different lens and feeling the satisfaction of making an impact,” he says. “Our students are enriched by experiences that enhance and build upon what is taught in the classroom.”