Alright – so today we’ve got the honor of introducing you to Barbara Richardson. We think you’ll enjoy our conversation, we’ve shared it below.
Alright, Barbara thanks for taking the time to share your stories and insights with us today. Let’s start with the story of your mission. What should we know?
The story behind our mission is to serve children 2 to 5 years of age a deserving and quality early childhood education that will bring value and success in their future.
Barbara, before we move on to more of these sorts of questions, can you take some time to bring our readers up to speed on you and what you do?
I am a retired banker from the financial industry. The call for me to open an Early Childhood Education facility was a something that I honestly ran from. I remember in my early teens I would baby-sit children for many parents so they could go out on a ‘date night’, which was also a way for me to make money. During my career I found myself teaching adults in the banking industry, and during that time I also mentored and coached the youth at the local church I attended. I come from a family of school-age and college educators. Apparently during my young age I had always thought that is what I should do. During my career I had always felt a tug within my spirit to work with the young children and youth, therefore I became a mentor. After I retired, I knew what I was called to do and opened Children of Life Academy in 2013. A place where kids can be kids with a high focus in academics, Christianity, social and emotional skills for kindergarten readiness. Our Academy provides quality education, a place where children are loved, nurtured and treated as an individual. The families we serve are involved in the development of their children and are very proud to be a part of our Academy. I am most proud of how our children excel once they are enrolled and watch them blossom into a mature young scholar. By the time they graduate the majority are at 1st grade level. We are ranked on yelp as the top 10 preschools in Eastlake!
What do you think helped you build your reputation within your market?
What built my Academy’s reputation are the parents. Because of our foundation, the parents had high expectations from us, and we deliver over and above year after year with our students. This speaks volumes because the children come from all walks of life, they have very unique personalities, and their own individual learning abilities. We have always and continue to focus on each child individually for their own personal development and growth. I have repeat parents who have a baby and wait until the child reaches two and comes back. We have many families that stay in touch, they stop by with their child who graduated several years ago to say hello and let us know how well the child is doing in elementary school.
Can you share a story from your journey that illustrates your resilience?
I am determined to have the right staff for my students. The unfortunate I have learned is a high level of turnover in Early Childhood education and at times I felt like giving up. My number one priority is to always think of the children’s need for a loving and friendly environment and the parents needs for their children to attend a place to learn and grow, not play all day. Therefore I continue to persevere in this area to search for the right fit, which continues to be a struggle especially more so now that we are in a pandemic, this area can be a deterrent if you allow it to. I have a mission and a vision for all of God’s children who come through our doors to be successful in life.