For Brookline preschool and pre-K provider Little Children Schoolhouse, it has been a very eventful year in a journey that reaches across two continents. Co-owned by sisters Gladys Ruiz (Founder) and Lissy Rodriquez (Lead Teacher) since 2004, the early education center has built a strong community around its students and their families from its locations in Brookline Village.
Ms. Ruiz credits the experience she and her sister share as immigrants as the driving force behind that sense of community. As natives of Peru where much of their extended family remains, she and Ms. Rodriguez have a unique understanding of the importance of community, and purposefully built the school to be an extension of each child’s home and family life.
Starting from a single location offering childcare and early education programs, LCS now has three locations on Washington and Harvard Streets and is poised to grow again.
Preceding the latest round of growth are two very significant events for the school. Ms. Ruiz and Ms. Rodriguez were among those honored at the Immigrant Learning Center’s 4th Annual Entrepreneur of the Year Awards Dinner on May 7th. Since 1992, the ILC has been helping immigrants and refugee adults navigate their new homes in Eastern Massachusetts and help insure their successful adjustment. The sisters were nominated in the event’s Neighborhood Business Category. Among the evening’s highlights were the guest speakers: Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker and Massachusetts Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Jay Ash.
Just a few weeks later on May 29th, Little Children Schoolhouse hosted the graduation of their seventh pre-K class. According to Ms. Ruiz, the pre-K curriculum was created and added to the school’s program in 2007 for two reasons. First, the curriculum is comprehensive program focused on the development of critical kindergarten readiness skills provided in a nurturing environment. Second, after hearing the concerns of many LCS parents, it was offered as an alternative to public programs that carry the uncertainty of lottery-based registration.
While the graduation ceremony was a happy event, Lead Teacher Lissy Rodriquez admits it was also bittersweet. After so many years together, saying goodbye to the students and their families is hard. One highlight of the event and a reminder of the strong ties formed at the school was the return of two LCS alumni – now 11 and 8 years old, respectively – for the ceremony.
While it has been a very full year so far, there is no sign of slowing down for the sisters and their school. LCS will soon be moving to an expanded facility on Route 9 to accommodate their growing programs and admissions.
At a time when locally-owned businesses face a challenging economic climate and competition is often in the form of large corporations, in Little Children Schoolhouse Ms. Ruiz and Ms. Rodriquez have found an approach that benefits their business and students. It’s all about family.
— Catie Hayes