Our Story

Years back, just like any other parent who is looking for a good daycare I too was on search a good daycare for my son so I could go back to work. I was planning to pursue my research profession at the University of Washington. Soon I realized finding daycare wasn’t easy. There were long wait-lists and it was hard to get in. But one day I finally got a spot in a school. I was excited to get him enrolled. The first few days was hard for him. He was crying a lot and finding it hard to adjust. I thought my son would soon get used to the place. Then something really scary happened that made me completely switch directions.

 

911 Call

It had been a couple of weeks I was getting myself geared up to go back to work. It was mid-morning and I got a call from the daycare where my son was enrolled. They said that my son was sick and a 911 call had been initiated, he had been taken to Evergreen Hospital. I went running to the hospital where my son was taken. I was told that the teacher had missed a child in her classroom and she had gone running to the playground and realized that the child had passed out on the playground.

Day Care Experience

After that, I decided to stay home with my son a little longer. I gave daycare another try after a couple of months later. Again, he was falling sick quite often. After a couple of episodes of my son falling sick I decided to inform the child care that he wouldn’t attending. It was bright sunny day. I entered I noticed it was pitch dark in the class. I was told there was a power outage. Now I realized there was no natural light coming into the classrooms. There had always been a lot of artificial light that illuminated the place.

 

Opening up my preschool/ daycare

I wanted to create a learning center which was welcoming for the children. As a mom, I knew exactly what I wanted for my son. I got an Early Childhood Certification and I opened up my family run preschool/daycare with few children. I got a lot of educational materials for the children to explore. We explored science, astronomy, geography, reading and math through fun and interactive ways. During our circle time, apart from the regular rhymes and stories we also read the encyclopedias. We worked on fun stem projects and learnt about different cultures. My family loved to travel. I talked to the children about my travel experiences. I also showed the little artifacts that I bought from my travel. I had kid size clothing for them to try on and learn about different cultures. The children also got experiment different international cuisines. The children got involved in food preparation. They ate better and enjoyed being in involved in food preparation process. I created a unique curriculum with a combination of Montessori, Reggio-Emilia style and customization of my own. We tried to keep the place clean and disinfected so children did not fall sick often.

Soon friends and neighbors came and wanted to put their children in my preschool/daycare. They loved the space I had created for the kids. Friends and neighbors realized how much their kids were learning and how much they loved to come to school. Often times, they did not want to go back home and some even wanted a sleep over. I did not make a lot of money. It was also a time when a recession had hit hard in our lives. Some parents in my school had gotten laid off. Some wanted to take their children out of the preschool because they were finding it harder to pay for them. So, I decided to help. I told them even if I did not get paid they could still come to my school. They were my kids now, I did not want to miss them.  More than the money I earned, I loved them. At the end of the day the smiles on their faces, their silly jokes and their naughty mischief were all that I remembered and enjoyed it thoroughly.

 

Newly renovated space

After several years of running the preschool/ daycare successfully in my residence. I wanted to buy a place and run the preschool but I couldn’t afford it. The house I was using for the preschool was needing some major repairs. So, I decided to renovate the space and add some room. The only way to make it happen with a low budget was get involved in the process. So, I signed myself with the city as a general contractor. I supervised the project 7 days a week. Sometimes my day started as early as 5.30 in the morning and ended as late as 10.30 in the night. Managing the project was a challenge. It involved civil engineering and project managing skills and lots of experience which I did not have. Every time there were issues popping up and I had to make decisions.  Sometimes I had no idea how to fix the problem I was faced with. I just researched and went ahead with sheer faith in my heart. The hardest job was to motivate the contractors.  

 

I invited the State licensor from the Department of Early learning to visit the facility. To make sure all the state requirements were met in the newly renovated facility, all the electrical outlets are tamper resistant and all the smoke and carbon monoxide alarms had to be hard wired.  We added beepers to the doors and security cameras for the safety of the children. The renovated space had lot of natural light and hardwood floors.

 

After we renovated the interior space we ran out of money. The exterior was a mess, filled with leftover lumber and debris from the construction. I handpicked all left overs sorted them and posted them on Craig’s list. I worked on the landscaping myself with some help. Finally, after whole year of renovation all the efforts paid off the place looks beautiful. We finally opened our school, Orion Kids,

(a Montessori school /daycare) for business in August 2018.

Shantha Pathak.

Founder of Orion Montessori, Kirkland.

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