As a child, Adela Taboada, co-owner with her husband, Victor, of The Primrose School of Ashburn, loved to play school. She set up her dolls as if they were students, laying out lessons and conducting classes for them, but it took her some time to embark on her teaching career. With an undergraduate degree in computers, Taboada started her professional life in the corporate world. She continued working as she and her husband welcomed five children, but found herself frustrated by the lack of quality care for them. She wanted “a good place” for them, somewhere that nurtured both their affective and intellectual development. Instead, she found herself working with her kids at night to compensate for what they were not learning during the day. The experience rekindled Adela’s childhood passion for teaching and motivated to get her teaching degree.
“I absolutely love, love, love the profession of teaching,” says Taboada. Working at every level, from high school math to kindergarten, over her 20-year career, Adela has seen what works with kids and what does not. During that time, she compiled a mental list of what she would do if she had her own school: fresh lunches, character development, addressing the full measure of kids so that they are learning through movement and play as well as work. When the Taboadas decided to pursue this long-standing dream of providing a good place for young children, they found a kindred spirit in the Primrose Schools.
The Primrose Schools is a nationwide company that specializes in educational child care. The company’s 250 schools are run by individual franchise owners who adhere to the company’s curriculum, staffing and operational standards. At the heart of Primrose Schools is its copyrighted Balanced Learning Curriculum which combines the child-directed approach espoused by Maria Montessori with the teacher-directed learning found in a traditional classroom. Incorporating current research on the brain and child development, the Balanced Curriculum guides teachers as to what they teach while encouraging creativity in how teachers meet those guidelines. Also of crucial importance to Primrose is its emphasis on character development. Concepts like friendship, generosity and honesty are as integral to the company’s curriculum as colors or shapes.
For the Taboadas and their director, Heather Pearl, the corporate culture of Primrose perfectly aligns with their personal passions surrounding kids and education. The Ashburn school offers infant, toddler and preschool programs as well as full-day kindergarten and after-school care; each based on age-appropriate developmental milestones in all areas. Knowing that brain synapses are nurtured through connection, the caregivers in the infant program focus on gentle movements and tactile experiences. Toddlers learn basic sign language to facilitate and nurture the idea of communication. Older children work in literature-rich environments to strengthen communication skills and develop academic fluidity. Embedded in the curriculum are connections with physical movement, foreign languages and technology.
Both Taboada and Pearl praise the corporate support they have from Primrose and exude a professional confidence that comes from knowing that each initiative, each program is in the best interest of kids. Adela cites the support she has had in rectifying a pet peeve of hers from her teaching days. She was always dismayed that the school cafeteria served highly-processed, nutritionally empty food to students. Currently, she employs an on-site chef who makes fresh snacks and lunches for students – turkey meatballs for lunch, baked pears as a snack. This summer, the school had its own garden and used its harvest in their meals.
The moment you walk into the Primrose School of Ashburn you get swept up in its vibrancy. The decor welcomes children and winks conspiratorially at parents as if to say, “Who would have thought cleanliness and organization could feel so comfortable?” Open only since January, staff members have already worked their magic on the building, letting their enthusiasm for educating kids and the corporate support they receive to do so gleam everywhere. That enthusiasm suffuses the facility, felt even as you leave the campus. There, as you leave the parking lot, a road sign painted a kindly grayish white like your grandfather’s hair announces “We Care About You. Please Buckle Up.”
Jessamyn Ayers writes and lives in Loudoun County with her husband and two children. Her perfect day includes some combination of reading, writing, running, working her dogs and baseball. In addition to her fiction writing, she maintains the blog "The Curveball Contingent" (curveballcontingent.blogspot.com).