Parker-Chase Teacher Wins Prestigious Award and Talks About the Teachers Who Inspired Her

Quinecia Styles Smith’s education journey began with a roadblock that might have discouraged her from pursuing an education. But today, she is an award-winning teacher at Parker-Chase Preschool in North Peachtree City, Georgia after the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning named her as a Scholar of the Year.

The award, which is in its 20th year and includes a cash prize supported by the Georgia Foundation for Early Care + Learning (GFECL), recognizes outstanding college students enrolled in an early childhood education program who simultaneously work in education.

“When you are a teacher by day and scholar by night, it can be challenging to achieve the right balance,” said Carrie Ashbee, Executive Director of the GFECL. “We hope these awards are a small way of recognizing the amazing commitment and dedication these early education professionals have to their students and families, both now and in the future.”

For Quinecia, the award was both an honor and a reminder of how she became a teacher.

‘You Can Do It!’

When Quinecia started kindergarten, she had a speech impediment that made it difficult to express words.

“The words would just come out jumbled and sometimes blended with each other,” Quinecia explained.

At her kindergarten outside Atlanta, officials put her in a special needs class and gave her an individualized education plan (IEP). Her first experience in school was already becoming more about what her limits were, rather than what her potential could be. But that started to change when she met the first of three teachers who would transform her life.

Kim Stegall was a speech teacher who worked closely with Styles-Smith when she was 5 and 6. Through encouragement and positivity, Quinecia’s speech began to improve. Most importantly, she was gaining confidence and knew that she could make progress.

“She really invested time in me and made the effort to help,” Quinecia said.

When Quinecia reached the third grade, her speech issues persisted. But she met the second teacher who make change her life: Vicky Cash.

“She always told me ‘You can talk! You have so much potential, you just have to work hard.’” Quinecia recalled.

Ms. Cash was right because Quinecia quickly excelled. By the 6th grade, she tested into her school’s gifted program. And by high school, she had overcome her speech issues so well that she was in her school’s thespian club, performing dramatic monologues in front of live audiences. By the time she graduated – with honors – Quinecia was even considering an acting career.

‘Change the Stars’

But then the third teacher made an impact: Jeff Roper.

Mr. Roper, one of Quinecia’s high school teachers, always encouraged students to do things that would help others and change the world.

“He would say look for ways that would change the stars to make somebody’s life better,” Quinecia said. “I realized that it was teachers who made me feel important, validated, and empowered. That’s when I knew I wanted to be a teacher.”

Today, “Miss Nene” as her children know her, is the lead teacher for 3 and 4-year-olds at Parker-Chase Preschool in North Peachtree City, one of Endeavor Schools’ newest campuses. She has been teaching for eight years and is studying at West Georgia Technical College with plans to specialize in inclusion therapy, so she can help children who have similar circumstances to her while growing up.

“I want to be the one who children look back on and remember as somebody who changed their stars,” she said.

The Endeavor Schools team has no doubts she will do just that.

“We are so honored to work with a teacher like Nene who is devoted to each child and actually sees their potential,” said Danielle Millman, the Chief Growth and Experience Officer at Endeavor Schools. “She is an incredible teacher who is an inspiration to our community. She truly deserves this honor, and we are so proud of her and her achievements.”

For Quinecia, the award is an honor, but it’s also a reminder about the necessity of hard work.

“It means that I have to continue doing everything I’ve always done to get to this point,” she said. “I want to try harder and be more motivated to reach the next level. My next goal is to pave the way for my students to accomplish the same kinds of things. It’s a lot of pressure, but it’s also really special.”

 

Endeavor Schools Acquires Heritage Montessori, One of the First Montessori Schools in the U.S.

Endeavor Schools is proud to announce the acquisition of Heritage Montessori, a trio of traditional Montessori schools in Southern California with a rich history that goes all the way back to Dr. Maria Montessori herself.

Heritage Montessori was founded in 1962 by Qudsia Roston, whose mother, Maria Peerzada, was a teaching student in Dr. Montessori’s first training class in India during the 1930s. As a child, Roston was one of Dr. Montessori’s pupils during the time the renowned pedagogist was conducting research for her book, “The Absorbent Mind.”

Roston went on to become an influential Montessori educator and founded Heritage Montessori, one of the first Montessori schools in the United States. Today, Heritage Montessori has three locations, including Huntington Beach, Lake Forest, and Newport-Mesa. All three campuses are beautifully designed to enhance the Montessori experience for children up to third grade, and the staff at each school consists of highly trained Montessori guides who are passionate about children’s education.

“The Heritage Montessori schools perfectly embody our mission, which is to provide children with a stellar education that helps them grow in all facets of life,” said Endeavor Schools CEO, Ricardo Campo. “The schools have a rich history and impressive track record that highlight the talent and dedication of their amazing staff.”

Heritage Montessori will continue to be led by Executive Director Dr. Alexandra Magliarditi, a trained Montessorian who started as an assistant teacher at Heritage in 2013.

“We are very excited to be a part of the Endeavor Schools family,” Dr. Magliarditi said. “Endeavor Schools understands the benefits of a Montessori education and we are looking forward to working with their team to continue providing children with a superior education inspired by Dr. Montessori’s philosophy.”

With the addition of Heritage Montessori’s three campuses, Endeavor Schools now owns and operates 64 schools across the United States as the company continues to provide innovative, high-quality education programs to children of all ages across the nation.

To learn more about Heritage Montessori and its fascinating history, visit www.heritagemontessori.com.

How Our Dallas-area Teachers Beat the ‘Texas Freeze’ with Dedication and Teamwork

Thristina Courtney, the School Leader at Parker-Chase Plano.

With summer temperatures now scorching the country, the Texas Freeze seems like a distant memory to some. But back in February, the sudden shock of extremely cold temperatures in Texas wreaked havoc across the state, causing damage to thousands of schools, some of which have yet to recover.

Two of our own schools were shut down for three months: Parker-Chase Preschools in Plano and Carrollton. Those schools are now fully re-open, but some of our Dallas-area teachers recently reflected on how they managed to handle the crisis and continue providing children with education by working together as a unified team.

“I was amazed at how the schools pulled together during this time to continue providing care to the children and families we serve,” said Cheryl Partida, the Regional Director of Operations in Texas for Endeavor Schools.

The Texas Freeze was a wintry rampage. Wind turbines froze, causing millions to lose power. Pipes burst, causing flooding in thousands of buildings. And authorities later found that nearly 200 people lost their lives, mostly from hypothermia.

By February 14, millions of Texans were dealing with the Freeze’s effects. And Thristina Courtney, the school leader at Parker-Chase Preschool in Plano, rushed to her school to check its status and rescue Steve, the classroom pet turtle.

Steve was just fine. But the school was not. What happened in thousands of schools across the state also happened at Parker-Chase Preschool in Plano: The power was out, and busted water pipes caused flooding. Surveying the damage, Courtney’s heart sank.

“Our school has always been so lovely and bright,” she said. “But now it was dark and just lost.”

Before students could return to the building, all damage had to be repaired. Immediately, Courtney looked for a way to provide education and childcare for her 82 children.

Focusing on the Children’s Well-being

Barb Sagehorn, the School Leader at Carpe Diem Private Preschool in Frisco

Working with the Endeavor Schools’ support team, Courtney arranged for all the children and her staff members to be temporarily transferred to Carpe Diem Private Preschool in Allen, located about nine miles north. Hers wasn’t the only Endeavor school that had to be temporarily moved to a new location. Parker-Chase Preschool in Carrollton had to be moved to Carpe Diem Private Preschool in Frisco (Endeavor Schools has a total of 11 schools in Texas, including six in the Dallas area. Fortunately, only two schools had to be moved to temporary locations after the Texas Freeze).

But doing so wasn’t easy. Even though the distance between the two schools was just a few miles, the logistics of getting dozens of families to “move” to a new school was challenging. From communicating to and ensuring families about the move to adhering to state preschool standards and Covid guidelines, Courtney and the Carpe Diem team had to do something they never did before. But instead of buckling under the stress, they worked through it.

There are four Carpe Diem Private Preschools in the Dallas area: Allen, Frisco, Richardson and Southlake. Although each employee works for the same company, their work rarely overlaps because each school serves a different community. That all changed when four schools had to be temporarily combined into two.

With the student population of four schools rolled into two campuses, there were many challenges, such as communicating with parents about the changes, maintaining separate classrooms and entrances for the students, making sure enough supplies were available, re-arranging school day schedules, and much more.

Preschool employees’ days can be difficult enough, but this was different. Nevertheless, the school staff at Endeavor’s six Dallas-area schools were up to the extra challenges by focusing on a common goal: providing care and education to children.

“We really grew closer as a team by getting to know each other and helping each other out,” Courtney said. “We all care very much about our children and that brought us together and helped us overcome all the challenges that were in front of us.”

Barb Sagehorn, the school leader at Carpe Diem Private Preschool in Frisco, which played host to Parker-Case Preschool of Carrollton, praised all the teachers who made it possible to continue giving care and education to almost 200 students.

“It wasn’t easy, but our teachers are professionals who know how to adapt,” she said. “They were focused, resilient, and took great care of their children during a difficult time.”

Repairing the Damage and Moving Forward

Ken Jones, the Vice President of Facilities and Security at Endeavor Schools

The teachers at the Dallas-area schools weren’t the only ones tasked with challenges. Ken Jones, the Vice President of Facilities and Security at Endeavor Schools, had to act quickly to fully repair the damaged schools.

Based in Atlanta, Jones immediately went to Dallas to oversee the emergency response to get the schools up and running as soon as possible. However, there was a severe lack of labor and materials in Texas at the time. To get the job done, Jones flew in a team from Atlanta and brought in materials from around the country.

“The best decision we made was not to wait in line for local mitigation and construction companies to free up to respond to our massive loss,” Jones said. “A mitigation and construction team that we have a longstanding relationship traveled 800 miles with tractor trailers full of tools and construction supplies from Georgia. Their support and expertise were critical in helping restore our schools to reopen for our staff and families. We learned that valuing vendors as our true partners and treating them with grace, courtesy, and respect creates longstanding bonds that are there for you when you need your partners most.”

The Texas Freeze caused close to $300 billion in damage across the state, according to a study by the University of Houston’s School of Public Affairs. Our schools weren’t spared from the Texas Freeze, but in a little more than three months, all of our Texas schools were back to normal. And due to the hard work, dedication, and perseverance of Endeavor’s teachers, children and their families were able to continue receiving high-quality care and education without missing a beat.

“We really love what we do, and we love our children,” Courtney said. “Now we’re able to continue doing so knowing that we have a support network – through each other and through Endeavor Schools – that will always be there for us when we need it.”