We designed The Grove School to reflect what we believe is missing in preschool today–a true balance between education and fun. We represent the joy of learning. We’re giving children a stimulating and positive environment, with the right resources and access to fantastic teachers.
To make this possible one of our key commitments is to recruit and train the highest-caliber teachers. Our people are passionate, energetic and motivated to leave an indelible print on children so they’ll come out of our school prepared to be future leaders in what they do. There is a strong culture of empowerment throughout our organization, and especially at the teacher level.
Because of this, we’re creating positive memories as opposed to just educational experiences. If we do our part, children will carry these memories throughout their lives.
The last week in February marked our grand opening celebrations at both Cary and Plano. I had the privilege of attending both events, which made for an exciting, energetic, and (slightly) exhausting week! The schools were in top-notch shape, the faculty was energized, parents were wowed and children were laughing, playing, running, stretching, dancing, and posing (for yoga, that is).
The one word that truly embodies the spirit of that week for me is passion. Every single person who has become a part of our community has done so because they are passionately invested in what The Grove School stands for. Take Dr. Shefali Parmar for example, one of our parents who is also a pediatrician. She spoke at The Grove School of Cary about the importance of children’s health, and gave other parents a great list of things to do for their children to ensure an all-around healthy lifestyle. As I listened to her workshop, I found myself taking notes to use at home for my daughter.
Another great example is Stephanie from Stretch-n-Grow, who at The Grove School of Plano took children through a set of exercises and an obstacle course, all while teaching them the names of various muscle groups. I loved hearing the class of 3-year olds pronounce “trapezius” in unison!
Or, take Ms Ali at The Grove School of Cary, who I personally watched scrape the ORTs from her plate into a bin for composting, and then recycle her plastic plate. Talk about passion!
To me, meeting these folks just helped to reinforce that we’re all here not because it’s a job, or because it’s a convenient place to take our kids. We’re here because we all truly believe in a similar set of ideals, and are passionate about living them out (personally, professionally, or through our children). Of course, I’m no exception. While traveling, I managed to successfully adhere to my diet which consists of lean meats, fruits and veggies, and specific fats (and excludes grains, gluten, legumes, dairy, and heavy starches – check out the Paleo Diet). I also managed to seek out a local CrossFit affiliate, where I train back home 5 times per week. My coworkers gently kid that I’m obsessed.
It’s was great to spend a week amongst such passionate people. But most importantly, it was great to see children getting such a great educational experience at the school. When we sought out to build The Grove School, our goal was simply to create the best preschool a family could ask for. After being there and witnessing such amazing educational experiences, I can confidently label The Grove School “best” in any category.
Over the years, Knowledge Universe has had the privilege of partnering with hundreds of thousands of young children as they’ve enjoyed their first experiences in community involvement. Through various charitable campaigns, these children, their families and the teachers in their classrooms have raised awareness and millions of dollars for a variety of local and national organizations.
People often ask us about when children are ready to serve their communities. While all children are different, we think starting them earlier is not only developmentally appropriate, but key to building a foundation of giving that will last through childhood and into adulthood.
Research tells us (and our own experiences have confirmed) that children who participate in charitable activities benefit in many ways:
- They experience a sense of connection to their communities.
- They develop social responsibility.
- They become aware of diversity in their communities.
- They learn about cooperation, problem-solving and citizenship.
- They learn about cause-and-effect.
- They build confidence in knowing they can make a difference.
Starting small is key to introducing community service to your own child. Recycling at home is a great way to incorporate community service into your daily routine. Something else parents can do to encourage volunteerism is to volunteer, themselves. Spend time at your child’s school, and engage your child in conversation about community service.
With today being Martin Luther King Day, the tragic situation in Haiti, and this country and the world still languishing in a difficult economic climate, there is a keen focus on charitable activities and need; you might find right now to be the perfect time to introduce your child to the rewards that come from giving back.
Oh, and our families at The Grove School will have numerous community service opportunities throughout the year. A focus on volunteerism makes up a significant part of the connective tissue between The Grove School, the children and families we serve, our educators, and the communities that we are so excited to be a part of.
See you out in the community!
By now you have undoubtedly seen footage from Haiti, where a major earthquake on January 12th caused catastrophic damage throughout most of the country. The death toll could reach into the tens of thousands, and survivors were left with an almost universal lack of access to emergency medical care, clean drinking water, and shelter. As many as two million children are affected.
Knowledge Universe is supporting relief efforts through two Portland-based, international relief organizations: Mercy Corps and Medical Teams International (formerly NW Medical Teams). We have made contributions to these organizations’ efforts to assist children in the aftermath of this natural disaster.
KU is also working to deliver thousands of articles of children’s clothing to aid groups in Haiti, in keeping with the company’s long history of supporting organizations that provide for children.
Please leave a comment if you have any questions, concerns or want to talk more about our efforts to assist with this devastating tragedy.
With all the buzz around the first two Grove Schools opening in Plano and Cary, it may seem a bit funny to be thinking, “where do we go next?” Well, that’s our style at The Grove School. We’ve always been forward thinkers, and are always looking ahead to new opportunities.
That said, we’re now looking at cities all over the US to try and find that perfect “Grove School fit,” and we’d love your help in deciding where to go. We’ve created a link under the “Connect” area in the upper right corner (look for the Suggest a new Grove School link) that allows you to send us an email with your suggestions.
Do you think your home town would be a good match? Send us an email and tell us why. (We WILL read them!) Then encourage your neighbors to check out our website and do the same. If we get enough interest in a specific area, neighborhood or town, we’ll take notice. If we decided to put a Grove School in your town, we might even ask you to sit on our community advisory panel to help us get the school up and running!
In our future locations for The Grove School, we’re looking for a communities with:
· Families dedicated to making a difference
· Parents who value a top-notch, extraordinary preschool education
· Best-in-class teachers and educators who want to work for an innovative school
· People who value healthy living, environmental sustainability and volunteerism
If you haven’t noticed, we want to be part of a community, in every sense of the word. We want to create meaningful relationships with children, parents, businesses and governments to truly build – together – the best preschool possible. Sound like the place you live? Send us an email and tell us about it!
This year, my hope is that families who enroll their children at The Grove School will understand and appreciate the teaching that occurs here and the rich educational experiences our curriculum offers. It’s really all about how we’re using the environment and technology to prepare these children for the world they will live in.
I also hope to see a connected and flourishing community in each of the schools. More than just a preschool, The Grove School is a place for parents to connect, teachers to share best practices and for children to develop long lasting friendships.
Long term, I see us developing a larger community of schools across the country. Where families and teachers are able to interact digitally, socially and environmentally so we can create positive social experiences for children. If we do that, we’ll become known as one of the truly unique opportunities for the children and families we serve.
If I may be so kind as to say it, I’ve really enjoyed bringing The Grove School to life.
First a bit of background about me. I’ve been an entrepreneur in the education space for 18 years and have always enjoyed creating innovative and progressive organizations that focus on the needs of families, as well as children and their cognitive, social and emotional development. And so when I was asked to run The Grove School, I got excited about bringing together the right people, formulating a great team and moving from concept launch.
We have many fantastic people in our organization who have extensive educational experience. We also recruited top talent for specific skill sets. I asked around about individuals who were the most progressive, who would contribute substantively to a new brand and bringing it to market, and helping us move forward successfully.
Then I handpicked all seven people for our original team. I invited them and gave them the challenge. I told them this wasn’t a team where you can attend meetings and not contribute. They would truly frame and shape a wonderful new preschool experience.
With the team in place, we looked at best practices and got ideas from educators with 7-10 years of experience. We asked them about the challenges in early childhood education, and what would be the right way to proceed. We took that insight and formulated the school you see today.
There was also an aha moment. I remember a team meeting where I looked around the room. Everyone was contributing really great ideas and there were a lot of what-if questions. It was then that we decided not to put any barriers on our thinking. We knew we had the right people in the room and resources to make all of this happen.
That was the turning point. I realized this was unique and would resonate with families. Given the social and environmental consciousness of families today, we could align with their core values. We could truly extend what children are learning in their homes into a preschool environment.
There is nothing in life that compares to being a parent–both the highs and lows. My three and six year-olds are an ongoing source of astonishment and a daily reminder that patience is a hard-earned virtue.
Working in a company devoted to children’s education gives me the privilege of connecting my work with deep personal values. The opportunity to build a school from the ground up is a project that has captivated a number of us for years.
The immense change that we’ve undergone in recent years as a society has brought a new focus, perhaps a strengthened set of values. The school emerged out of a small team’s energy to build a new kind of educational community. This is the time for The Grove School.
It’s a place devoted to each child and helping them understand their place in their community and the world. To fostering a community to support these children. And to combining special teachers with a learning plan that gives each child the best start possible. I just wish there was one in my neighborhood!
An advantage we have with The Grove School is the ability to leverage the resources of a national expert in child development and education. Knowledge Universe is our taproot, that strong, central root that anchors a tree. Because of our relationship to them, we can be the nimble offshoot that grows quickly and purposefully in response to the needs of our neighborhood schools and the families we serve.
Knowledge Universe has cared for and educated more children than any other single entity in the country, and while we learn something new every day, we know children and education.
Hundreds of thousands of children have learned their colors and shapes, how to read and write, and been prepared for their academic careers at a Knowledge Universe center or school. We’re so proud of that fact, and we are very much looking forward to sharing those important milestones with the children and families of The Grove School.
I came on board with The Grove School in July 2008. Ty Durekas, our president, sent an email asking me to be part of a small, diverse team of people to develop a best-in-class early education brand. I was enthusiastic from the start and jumped at the invitation. As the parent of a young daughter, I recognized that there was a large opportunity to fulfill a need among parents.
Also, rarely do you get the opportunity to help build something from scratch. So often in your job you’re picking up where other people left off, or focusing on transforming something that’s already in existence. It’s been such an amazing experience to truly build this concept from the ground up, where we’ve had such freedom to make it the way we’d like to.
To make sure our concept resonated with parents, we did three research studies. We found that there was a segment of parents who were interested in an exceptional early education offering who wanted high-caliber teachers and staff, very clean and organized facilities, and so forth.
Additionally, we saw that these same parents were very interested in a focus on health, specifically clean air and water in the schools, exercise incorporated in the curriculum, healthy food options, etc.
Finally, through our own research, as well as through overall market trends, we saw that there was an increasing focus on environmental sustainability. By looking at other preschool offerings, we knew that no provider was currently offering such an integrated concept. So, we talked with parents about the idea (once again), and they loved it.
Pieces of The Grove School concept have changed slightly over the past year, but the core idea has remained the same. It’s all about the convergence and tight integration of a healthy mind, body and planet across all facets of the school–from the curriculum to the staff to the facility.
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