Women Who Move West Michigan – 2021 – Special Section
The Goddard School – Knapp’s Corner
2911 Knapp St. NE | Grand Rapids, MI 49525 | 616-208-9292 | goddardschool.com
Whitney Mooney, along with her husband Sean, own the Knapp’s Corner location of The Goddard School, a trusted preschool institution with franchises all over the country, including several in greater Grand Rapids. Goddard Schools offer learning programs for children aged 6 weeks to 6 years.
When the Mooneys were expecting their first child, they toured several schools and centers where their daughter, now age 4, could be cared for while they both pursued their careers. After visiting one of the Goddard Schools, they quickly fell in love with it — so much so that they immediately started making plans to purchase their own franchise. While they prepared to open their location, their daughter attended another Goddard School and, today, attends the one they own and operate.
“We are a family-owned business, and the main reason we started this endeavor was to bring quality, early childhood education to this area,” Whitney says. “We were born and raised in Grand Rapids and see this as a way to give back to our community by educating our future leaders and people who want to stay in the city and contribute its prosperity.”
One of the features that attracted the Mooneys to The Goddard School is its play-based FLEX Learning (Fun Learning Experience) program. Based on research on how children learn best, and focused on building academic, creative, social, emotional, and physical skills, the curriculum and programming offer each child a well-rounded experience.
The Goddard Schools set themselves apart from daycare and babysitter scenarios, as well as similar early education institutions, in that their instructors are professional teachers, and their lead teachers are required to have a bachelor’s or associate’s degree in early childhood development or a child-related field. They’re knowledgeable in developmentally appropriate practices for the age group they’re teaching and they write their own lesson plans, as opposed to other schools where the director or corporate team write those plans. This allows for a more customized approach that is built on observance and fact-finding and, it means that they’re teaching to the children in their care and not just what is expected for a particular age group.
Most important is that the children are joyful, having fun, and interested in what they’re learning, which sets them up for success, boosting confidence and better preparing them for when they enter kindergarten.
From the parents’ perspective, there’s greater peace of mind. Paragons of cleanliness and security, Goddard Schools’ health and safety standards are above and beyond what licensing requires in Michigan and also what the CDC recommends at this time. They perform unannounced quality assurance checks to ensure staff is following procedures and protocols, and they also have high-tech iris scanners that prevent uninvited guests from entering the locked facilities.
It’s the combination of safety, nurturing, and education that allowed Whitney to continue to follow her career goals, before the Mooneys purchased and opened their own Goddard School. “I understand the struggle that moms have with the choice of staying home with their children or working out in the professional realm,” Whitney says. “I am passionate about providing parents with a safe space that allows their children to receive the same loving care that they would give. When my daughter attended her first Goddard School and I was working in hospitality, I felt supported, and I wanted to give that same support to other people.”
Whitney has a second child on the way, which has really reinforced the path that she and Sean are on as owners of a Goddard School. “What’s wonderful about this stage in our life is that we’re on the same playing field with all of the parents here,” Whitney says. “We’re going through all the same struggles with raising children and working, and I love that I can communicate and really relate with parents that way, too — as a peer.”
She and Sean understand how hard it is for parents to leave their young children. Making sure that they’re getting quality care while also achieving educational milestones is not just important, it’s crucial. Whitney finds great reward in providing this option. “Owning a preschool that enriches people’s lives, helps support parents, and creates a community is the best thing I could have ever imagined for my life,” Whitney says. “We love Grand Rapids and I want to instill that love in these children and encourage them to stay here and grow this wonderful city we call home.”