Can I share a story with you all that you might not know about?
Can I share just a small piece of the Young Scholars story.
Young Scholars Academy was officially labeled in 2000 with its original founders Jane and Geoff Germano. Geoff was a Lt. Colonel in the United States Air Force and Jane a college graduate with a background in teaching. These two had the crazy idea to start a childcare program since children of their own were not doable.
In 2001, Jenn Winters (my mom) came with all 3 of us kids in tow into Young Scholars and as you guessed it, the rest is history. Jenn moved up from a teacher’s aide to classroom teacher, to assistant Director, and then Director. I remember getting ice cream money from Mr. Geoff and trying to protest in front of Ms. Jane’s office about how I didn’t like the afternoon snack or the planned field trips for summer. (I know, the nerve.)
The Germanos & Winters worked side by side to grow the business and eventually even built the freestanding building we’re in now, we used to be in a strip mall! Can you believe that? We moved into this building in 2008- recession year, great idea, right?
(For those of you who are history nerds, our old location is now an appliance store off Austin Bluffs!)
Here’s the thing and why today is such a big piece is YSA history.
10 years ago today one of Young Scholars original founders Mr. Geoff passed away. He had been fighting medical issues for years and was finally able to live in peace. I was just a teenager, but I remember the day vividly.
Jane was devastated, he was gone too soon.
Jenn was stressed and sad. The recession was still very clearly impacting small businesses. I remember during those days she would come home and say she needed 20 minutes before she could “mom.” Looking back on it now I also see why she was mad I forgot to take the chicken out of the freezer.
I went to work at 16 and finished high school online. The family was stressed, and I was that kid that just had to help even if it was working as a teacher’s aide in one of the classrooms.
With the passing of Mr. Geoff taking, its toll, I remember Jane asking my mom to lunch one day. Jane wanted to close Young Scholars for good. The finances were an array, the stress was too much and obviously, Jane struggled to run a business she had originally founded with her husband. She talked about severance packages, how she planned to do it, and the timeframe.
Jenn begged. Begged for the opportunity and freedom to turn things around. After buying in and becoming an official partner of the company a fire had been lit under her.
I quickly finished high school online and got my group leader status as quickly as I could finish the classes. I had to come in and help keep the family business alive. Then the rest of my family followed, my dad quit his job of 20 years to help, my siblings also came and worked when their schedules allowed it. It took all of us to keep the doors open. There was a long road ahead.
The only way we could stay afloat was to get more children and we had the opportunity to do so with army childcare (Child Care Aware.) However, we could only accept this program and the grants that came along with it if we were NAEYC accredited. (National Association of The Education of Young Children) say that ten times fast. Jenn requested a meeting with the rep many times, and she was turned down. Turned down, dismissed until one day we weren’t. (Thanks Ms. Judy!)
Now we still had to get accredited, and we did, like scored 98% overall on our accreditation visit. That’s major, props to 2014-year-old us!
The fire that was lit went far beyond making a paycheck. Not only did Young Scholars keep their doors open, but we’re also actually able to impact families and this community. All of this happened because Geoff took a chance on a little teacher’s aide with a couple of kids.
I like to think that he looks down and smiles at the impact one idea has had on a community. I don’t know about you all but I just can’t imagine a life without Young Scholars in it.
I wonder what these kids would be like if they didn’t grow up here. Would they be a little less spicy? Possibly (ha) but I absolutely love that this is their home. Would their lights have been dimmed if there weren’t given the opportunity to fully shine? I love that they feel so comfortable being who they were meant to be.
I’m bawling and can’t believe it’s been ten years. Cheers to you, thank you so much for changing the lives of so many families.
Young Scholars Academy “Lifer” (seriously, I’ve been here since I was 4!)