About This Episode
In this uplifting edition of Natural Pod LIVE, our CEO, Bridgitte Alomes, chats with the wonderful Jerzell Pierre-Louis. Jerzell, the Owner and Founder of Sprout and Bloom Early Education Centers in Columbus, Ohio, shares about her journey as an educator, the passion it took to get there, and how staying true to her values is at the core of every meaningful success.
What inspired you to be an educator?
I remember when I was a child myself, a neighbor owned three childcare centers and I saw what a positive impact they had on our community; it’s something I never forgot. So when the job I had, and which I loved, didn’t work out due to very unfortunate circumstances, I revisited that idea of caring for children. That passion of ‘how can I make a difference’ led me to where I am today and having these two amazing centers.
“It’s about helping others, being their support; the passion is knowing I make a difference. I treat each child that comes through the door as if they’re my own.”
What do you think are the most successful aspects of Sprouts and Bloom Early Education Centers?
I think the culture. I started by creating a culture of integrity because that value is very important to me. I am a nurturer by nature, and that shows itself in the way I treat others, I want to support the female educators at the centers to be the best they can be and also to fulfill their own ambitions. That level of support then gets reflected down to the children. Every day by staying true to our values and in a place of integrity together, my team and I work towards every single child thriving and being best placed to thrive in the future.
“I wanted to create centers where children could thrive, but also the educators. I wanted to give women a voice and a space where they can meet their own personal and career goals.”
I still say I want to be the ‘United Nations of childcare’ and I think we are, everyone is welcome. We create a place of community where all in our diverse community of Columbus feels welcome. We nurture this community in many ways: for example once a month we look after all the children so parents can be together. We’ve started parenting education for first-time parents, where we bring in nutritionists and nurses, we even brought in an advisor to help families with their financial goals.
Our success is in supporting the young learners, the educators, the parents and the community as a whole.
Is it passion that has allowed you to grow your childcare centers?
I think it is passion yes. I want to know I’m making a difference, and I want to keep building and growing. At a community level, I do think it’s still quality childcare that is most needed, and there are a lot of children to serve. During the pandemic, lots of childcares closed, so I want to build my business and childcares’ but I want to collaborate with others in the community.
I want to share advice with those who are also starting childcares, so rather than being competitors we’re serving the community together.
When it comes to setting children up for success I think they need diversity and open conversation around them. Children really need quality care; they need their basic needs met before any learning can happen. They need to feel nurtured to then feel confident in themselves. When they feel loved and are fed and properly cared for, then they can take risks and can then learn and flourish.
The passion I have for caring for children really does keep me moving forward. And I’ve learned to use every tool available to me, whether that’s female intuition, a gut feeling, financial data, or marketing metrics, I use every tool available so I can be confident in my decisions. Part of that growth is also saying ‘actually I don’t know’ rather than having all the answers. My key personnel don’t have to do things the same way as me but they do need to share those same values of integrity and care. We make sure we have very open communication and I do everything I can to support my educators so they can shine.
Staying true to my values means I know I’m doing the best I can and am providing good leadership.
What advice would you give others either wanting to follow their passion, or who are feeling stuck?
The advice I’d give to others in either of those situations is – center yourself and ask ‘where do I want to be in 3 years, 5 years, and 10 years?’, and then make a plan as to how you can achieve what matters to you. It’s really about mindset and getting clear on your own values and staying focused on what’s important. So nurture that mindset and ask for support. Align yourself with others that are already doing what you want to do. Plus it’s amazing how many people are available if you just ask!
Thank you Jerzell for sharing your thoughts and experiences around what it means to follow your passion.
About Jerzell Pierre-Louis, Owner/Founder at Sprout and Bloom Early Education Centers
Jerzell Pierre-Louis worked as a middle school teacher, educational consultant, advocate for increased access to early childhood development resources, and served as Director of Education and Youth Services for The Columbus Urban League. As a mother of three, Pierre-Louis relates to the needs she hears from other parents and delivers parent-focused education because she understands that every parent wants what’s best for their child, but could use all the support possible to put that to action. Jerzell is the owner and founder of two early education centers, Sprout and Bloom, and is passionate about positively impacting the lives of children within her community.
About Bridgitte Alomes, Founder and CEO of Natural Pod
Bridgitte Alomes is a thought leader dedicated to better environments for play, learning and collaboration using sustainable furniture. In her work with Natural Pod, she has helped create over 15,000 learning environments throughout the world. She’s engaged over 40,000 educators through her workshops and presentations and has been dedicated to creating play-based pedagogy and sharing the importance of the learning environment design. Bridgitte also serves as President on the board of the Green Schools National Network, creating broad-based initiatives and successful strategies aimed at fostering healthy, sustainable K-12 schools across the United States.
About Natural Pod™ LIVE
Natural Pod™ LIVE has been created for, and by, our incredible community of educators, students, architects and anyone with a stake in creating better learning spaces and experiences. It’s an online streaming talk show where we interview education leaders who are sharing their personal stories behind the challenges and opportunities of creating exceptional learning environments. Join us as we explore the new approaches for what’s possible in the future of education with the people who are making it happen. This is your opportunity to learn directly from them about the challenges and successes and how they are approaching this work.