I’m Jennifer Bower, and This is My Way…

My Way series asks entrepreneurs, experts, and influencers to share their shortcuts, workspaces, routines, and more. Have someone you want to see featured or questions you think we should ask? Email [email protected]
VIEW ALL

****************************************************************************************************

JENNIFER BOWER
Founder/Owner
BeanTree Learning

43629 Greenway Corporate Drive Ashburn, VA 20147
(571) 223-3110
5003 Westone Plaza Chantilly, VA 20151
(703) 961-8222
www.beantreelearning.com

****************************************************************************************************
Born and raised outside Houston, Texas, Jennifer Bower graduated from Texas A&M University with a degree in accounting in 1984. She worked for an oil and gas company in Houston for two years before moving to Atlanta, GA. She was the Associate Headmaster, The Lovett School, Private PK-12 school from 1986 to 1996, and the CEO and President of a childcare group in Atlanta from 1996 to 2003. She is the founder and owner of BeanTree Learning since 2004.

One word that describes your workplace:
Nurturing

Tell us a little about your background and how you got here.
I graduated from Texas A&M University with a degree in Accounting. Soon after that, I joined the education industry and have been actively working for the education of children for over 33 years. After having my son, I struggled to drop him off at childcare and worried about him until I picked him up. Moving to Northern Virginia, I was fortunate to build BeanTree Learning and take advantage of the opportunity to create an educational school for young children that is based on love, family, and commitment to each child’s success.

Take us through a typical week.
I’m actively involved in both our BeanTree locations, splitting my week between the two schools. I especially enjoy being in the schools in the evening when parents aren’t in so much of a rush, and I can take time to talk with them and sometimes share a story about something that happened with their child during the day. In the evenings, I love having time to take my two border terriers, Rex and Zoe, for a long walk, have time on the piano, or catch up on email and correspondence.

What apps, gadgets, or tools do you rely on every day?
Although my son thinks I am crazy not to have an iPhone, I rely on my Android to keep close touch with the school directors and friends and monitor our BeanTree Facebook account.

What is the best and worst decision you’ve ever made?
The best decision had to be making a move from Atlanta to Northern Virginia to transform my vision of what a school for young children should be, into a reality. The rewards from this decision have been immeasurable as I have watched some of my students from the first year in 2005, graduate from high school, and start their college careers. Knowing that BeanTree had a small part at the beginning of their educational success is truly amazing.

Has your industry changed over the years? Good/bad?
The early childhood industry has continuously changed over the years and mostly for the better. Recently, the focus on emotional wellbeing has proven to be incredibly productive. Teaching children how to self-regulate is as essential as teaching them how to read and write. We have made great strides in helping children learn how to regulate their emotions, stay self-motivated, solve conflicts, and achieve goals. These core abilities improve their focus and master the content of our curriculum.

How did you get your first break?
I took a position shortly after college with a PK-12 private school in Atlanta. In the interview, my supervisor told me he was planning on retiring in the next two years. I took this as an excellent opportunity to get ready and take his position upon his leaving, which led to an eventual position of Associate Headmaster and an incredible ten years at the school.

What advice do you have for someone trying to get into your industry?
Do it for the right reasons! BeanTree’s success is partly due to the focused attention we give to building a family and community within our school first. Our directors and teachers focus on each child’s happiness and success, and on supporting our parents through addressing their needs, providing advice, and ensuring that they know their children are loved, safe, and academically challenged. Our teachers believe that every child in our building belongs to every teacher – this fosters a beautiful environment and has been the reason for our reputation and success in the community.

What are the most critical factors parents should consider when choosing a school or early childhood education provider?
Parents should look for appropriate teacher to child ratios, adherence to state licensing standards, curriculum goals, and qualification of directors and staff. However, my advice to parents is to always listen to their ‘gut’ when choosing. Once parents are satisfied with the offerings, safety, etc., the most significant part of the decision is how they “feel” about their visit. They should sense a warm, caring environment with sincere friendliness and a welcoming feel.

What woman inspires you, and why?
My older sister! She’s impressive and accomplished, and my best friend. She has raised three children, and they are all successful, motivated, and kind individuals. She is a mechanical engineer and has a high-stress job, travels extensively, and manages her home and family while always taking the time to call and check on me and make sure she knows what is happening in my life. She’s genuinely selfless and always gives me excellent advice and makes me feel like I’m so special to her!

Who are the people who help you get things done, and how do you rely on them?
Our Director team is phenomenal. I rely on them to take care of all the day-to-day issues and responsibilities, but also to respond to parents, teachers, and children as I would. I am incredibly fortunate to have such a talented team that extends my vision of our philosophy and mission to every day in our schools.

Do you take Posh timeouts? What do you do when you want to forget about work?
COOK! My passion outside of BeanTree is cooking. I love to research new recipes and try them. I find the process of preparing food very therapeutic. I recently decided to undergo a seafood gumbo from scratch. Five and a half hours later, it turned out not to be much of a ‘timeout,’ but it was delicious!

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
The best advice came from a former boss – make decisions based on what is best for the child, not on who is pressuring you, what’s the most profitable, or what’s the easiest. If all your decisions revolve around what you believe is the best for the child, you’ll always be able to justify them – especially the unpopular ones.

****************************************************************************************************

My Way series asks entrepreneurs, experts, and influencers to share their shortcuts, workspaces, routines, and more. Have someone you want to see featured, or questions you think we should ask? Email [email protected]