Mindy Smith, director of the newly opened Primrose School on Olio Road, traded her 12-year climb up the corporate ladder for a ride she wouldn’t give up for all the promotions in the world.
After Smith and her husband relocated to the Fishers-Geist area from Colorado, they longed to find a nurturing childcare environment for their son like the one he enjoyed at a Primrose school there. When Mindy learned she was carrying their second child, the couple began to dig deeper. They inquired about the possibility of starting a Primrose school near their new home and learned that the corporate office had, in fact, already scouted out a potential location next to Fall Creek Elementary.
[kml_flashembed movie="http://youtube.com/v/GCamEDVfJJs" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]After talking with other franchisees and meeting the corporate staff, Mindy learned that 85 percent of franchisees are parents. She quickly saw what set Primrose School apart from all the other childcare options she had investigated. Everyone in the organization was genuinely passionate about kids. Mindy says this was a risk she needed to take for the sake of families throughout the Fishers-Geist community. So she opened a brand new Primrose School on Jan. 22 and has never for a moment regretted that decision.
What motivates this woman with four college degrees, who could choose any job she wanted, to pursue this new adventure? The answer is simple: Because it’s important. Children are important, and helping them grow and thrive in a loving environment is critical to the community. Oh, and the hugs help, too.
“Tough days are solved by a hug from a child,” she says with a smile. “You just don’t get that in an office.”
So how is running a school different from running any other business? “It’s all about the kids,” Smith says. “If we have a tough decision to make, we do whatever is the right thing for the kids.”
The main objective of Primrose is to bring together a safe, nurturing environment with engaging curriculum and resources to bring out the very best in children. The teaching philosophy marries two popular ideals – student-directed learning and teacher-initiated learning – and successfully blends the positives of each philosophy into a well-balanced approach. By allowing students to learn about things that interest them and, in addition, having teachers introduce new concepts and skills, Primrose schools are finding the kind of balance they believe accomplishes optimum results.
The proof is not only in the test scores (90 percent of Primrose students score well above national averages) but in the way that little Matthew Konrad explained his recent science experiment where a daisy “drank” colored liquid and disbursed color throughout his flower; or the way that Logan Callahan, Kaeden Smith and Hollie Bruggemeir happily explained what happened to the cream they had just whipped to make a dip for their strawberries.
Now that our mouths are watering at the mention of strawberries and cream, it bears mentioning that the food at Primrose is not run-of-the-mill cafeteria food. The school serves breakfast, mid-morning snack, lunch and afternoon snack, and food is served up family style. The day we visited, ravioli was on the menu, and the halls were filled with the smell of home-cooked food that would make any child – or teacher – smile!
In addition to subjects like reading, math, science, art, health and even computer training beginning at age three, the students are also learning the value of looking outside of themselves and giving back to their community. Each month holds a different outreach opportunity. In March, the children donated books to Christel House, a local charity that provides books to underprivileged children. Students learned the joy of providing what might be another child’s only book.
The April project encouraged students to do extra jobs at home for change, which they would bring to school and add to the Primrose Penny Pail, a colorful dinosaur bank that the children look forward to feeding each morning. The school’s accountant, Rider-Kenley, agreed to match whatever the students could collect, and the combined total will be donated to a local charity.
The childcare program during the school year is open to children ages 6 weeks through 6 years, and a summer camp will be offered during June, July and August for children ages 6-12. Curriculum for the preschool and the summer camp is developed by a team of people whose full-time job it is to create curriculum; teachers, therefore, have the luxury of focusing their efforts on interacting with the class. All resources needed to teach the curriculum are provided by the corporate office in Georgia, and additional amenities and resources can be requisitioned by teachers so they do not have to tap into their personal finances to fund classroom needs.
Enrollment is still open for all ages at the Fishers-Geist Primrose School, and a new school is scheduled to open this August in Carmel. Working parents in the area who have been hoping to find an option such as this for their young children can investigate further at www.primrosegrayeagle.com.