Tiffany Ford launches schools and teaches educational entrepreneurs to do the same.
Philadelphia, Pa. – One of the biggest, longstanding historical debates in American history has been that of education, especially as it pertains to underserved, minority communities. However, educator, entrepreneur and consultant Tiffany Ford, known as “The Childcare Guru,” believes she has the answers to giving urban youth the academic spark they need to flourish. Now, she is giving other educational entrepreneurs the recipe for success so they too can spark change in their communities.
A native of Philadelphia, Ford has worked passionately in the fields of childcare and education for the last 15 years. She is the owner of Little Leaders Learning Academy, co-owner of Stages Community School, and the founder of Leaders and Legends Performing Arts Academy, which teaches jazz, tap, ballet, modern dance, drama, karate and vocal classes in southwest Philadelphia. Ford’s curriculums have thrived since 2009, offering both students and parents exposure to various resources and setting them up for success. That success, however, has not come without its challenges.
“The biggest issue is with early learning and how many people think it’s an option, not a necessity,” Ford said. “They think that teaching children self-regulation skills is an option, but children need that even before they enter school. Parents need to understand the need for early education. It’s good for them as well.”
As a child, Ford experienced what many inner city youth on the south side of Philadelphia experienced – gun violence in her neighborhood, as well as domestic and drug abuse in the home. Through the performing arts, she found her outlet, dancing for many years and competing in oratorical competitions. After college she went on to work in social services, and later earned a Master’s Degree in Psychology with a minor in Childhood Development.
Reflecting on how the performing arts helped her to endure trauma, to express herself and to develop confidence, she found her motivation to open her own childcare and performing arts centers, beginning in 2009.
“My child welfare background showed me what children need for safety, welfare and growth,” Ford said. “Sometimes kids need an outlet, especially when you have a lot of chaos happening in the home. School should be your safe place.”
Ford frequently saw truant children and how the lack of family structure and routines impacted them. She decided that it was crucial to identify ways to reach the families before the children got older. Her schools offer non-traditional learning programs, and what is referred to as a “creative curriculum,” to keep the youth excited and engaged about learning. Ford is also a vendor of PHLpreK, the free quality Pre-K program launched by the Philadelphia Mayor’s Office of Education.
“In Philly and in other urban centers, the lack of exposure is what hinders students. I wanted to make sure that I connected with parents and exposed them not only to educational resources, but to social resources as well,” she said. “We have a lot of violence and shootings, but when we take the kids and work with their interests and work with what they want to do, there is major progress.”
Today, Ford is helping other aspiring educational entrepreneurs to launch and scale their own childcare centers and schools. As a result of her success and the powerful reputation she has established within her own community, she receives inquiries from across the country. Ford wants to ensure that children across the country can receive the support that they need, as other leaders utilize her expertise and guidance in the areas of early learning, lesson planning and curriculum development. Not only that, she helps entrepreneurs to get the proper licenses and certifications, as well as understanding how to build a workforce that understands the vision and executes in order to garner the desired results.
“Overall, my goal is to truly impact lives and elevate our communities by preparing our youth to be successful and to be the future leaders of our society,” Ford said. “If I can help other entrepreneurs who are passionate in making a difference to launch their own schools, I think we will start to see a very positive trend in education.”
Follow Tiffany Ford and her work on Instagram at @tiffany_thechildcareguru. Also, learn more about Little Leaders Learning Academy at www.littleleadersphilly.com and Legends Performing Arts Academy at www.leadersandlegendspac.com. To schedule an interview or to gather more information, contact Ivan Thomas of Intrigue Media Group at 202.904.4790 or at [email protected].