A $3.5 million investment in education for young children was celebrated Saturday with the official ribbon cutting of Primrose School in Mt. Juliet on Belinda Parkway.
Primrose School franchise owners Andrea and Craig Turner hosted the grand opening event for Nashville-area and local families to tour their 12,000-square-foot school that added about 20 new jobs to Mt. Juliet and will serve more than 185 local children and families.
The school officially opened Feb. 24, Andrea said. Saturday's event was held to welcome the community to what is the sixth Primrose School in the Nashville area.
After the 10:15 a.m. ribbon cutting, children and their parents toured the premier school and were able to meet Elsa and Anna from Disney's "Frozen," Primrose friend Percy the Rooster, a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle and the Chuck E. Cheese mascot.
Fire Department of Mt. Juliet employees were also on site to show the youngsters the inside of a real fire truck. A caricature artist was also on hand for keepsakes.
Parents mostly focused on learning about Primose's exclusive Balanced Learning curriculum, which blends teacher-guided and child-initiated activities with emphasis on character development for children 6-weeks to 6 years old. Andrea and Craig also explained for students up to age 12, Primrose School offers the Primrose Explorers after-school program, "Further shaping young people for success in learning and life."
Primrose Schools Vice President of Education and Curriculum Development Dr. Gloria Julius attended the open house and said the learning program is "totally balanced."
"Most of the children are reading by kindergarten," she said. "Everything we do here has a purpose."
The young couple has two children of their own, and it was their daughter Makayla's, now 3, experience at the Hendersonville Primrose School that sparked their desire to open a school of their own, Andrea said. Their younger daughter, Aubrey, is 1 year old. However, it was when Makayla was 1 when they enrolled her in Primrose.
"Shortly after enrolling Makayla in a Primrose School, my husband and I noticed a transformation in her learning and attitude," Andrea said Saturday. "She was so happy when we picked her up in the afternoons and was learning and developing right before our eyes. I realized I wanted to be a part of her growth and bring the Primrose experience to other children."
Craig has a degree in finance, and Andrea is an occupational therapist.
"It was obvious to me Makayla was building a strong foundation for learning that she wasn't getting before," he said. "The combination of child-initiated play and teacher-guided activities that make up the Balanced Learning curriculum really allowed her to thrive. Her communication skills developed much quicker than they had prior to attending Primrose, and even at such a young age we could see she was developing a well-rounded skillset that would prepare her for future learning."
About two years ago they started on the journey to opening their own school. Andrea said Mt. Juliet was the ideal area to open a Primrose School.
"We saw how quickly the Mt. Juliet community was growing and recognized that children and families in the area were in need of high-quality early education and care," she said. "We moved to Mt. Juliet to fill this need and open our school after being longtime residents of Hendersonville."
While the school is large with several age-appropriate playgrounds, size-appropriate sinks, bathrooms in every classroom, and even their own chef, the owners explained the student/pupil ratio for all classes are lower than the state average.
"We ensure every child is receiving the support they need to reach their full potential, both inside and outside of the classroom," Andrea said. "Teachers have one-on-one, hands-on interactions with each and every child. In addition, Primrose partners with parents and creates strong relationships between parents, teachers and school leadership to ensure every child builds the foundation they need for future success. The school environment is very caring and nurturing to help foster a lifelong love of learning in children."
The infant rooms have a 1-to-4 ratio, the early preschool rooms have a 1-to-6 ratio, and the pre-K room has a 1-to-10 ratio, Andrea said.
The school features 11 private classrooms with wireless technology throughout, as well as three separate playgrounds.
"The equipment is specifically designed to help develop and grow their gross motor skills," Andrea said.
"Children will continue to develop their fine motor skills in the Primrose Patch, which is a garden on the school's property that enriches school curriculum with monthly gardening and nature study," Craig said.
There's an official Primrose Schools Safe School Plan with guidelines to ensure ongoing "safety measures (are) in place and parents and staff members are well prepared for emergencies," Andrea said.
Primrose Schools was founded in 1982 with more than 295 schools in 25 states.
"Our goal is for Primrose School of Mt. Juliet to better the lives of children and families in the community by providing high-quality early education and care and a safe and caring environment that nurtures a lifelong love of learning in children," Andrea said.
Writer Laurie Everett may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.