Brushy Creek guides were unsure of their future, but training renewed hope, restored their school
Earlier this year, Higher Ground Education acquired a new school in Texas, naming it Guidepost Montessori at Brushy Creek.
The school had been active in the Cedar Park community for four years. There were 20 staff members and over 100 students among nine classrooms. The parents and teachers were close. But unexpectedly, the head of school announced her retirement and that the school would be under new ownership soon.
“We knew we needed change,” says Jessica Reyes, lead guide in a toddler classroom. “But we didn’t know if we were going to have a job anymore. We were all in survival mode!”
“It was very stressful,” adds Leela Mare, lead guide in Nido. “We were a very strong community and very close as teachers.”
They needed support, reassurance, answers, and guidance, and they found it all with Guidepost Montessori.
Tight-knit family at Brushy Creek
Along with a close friendship among staff, the guides at Brushy Creek had built a wonderful affinity with the parent community over the years. They looked out and cared for the guides as one would a friend, so when the acquisition was announced, the parents united and made it clear: They wanted each of the guides to be ok.
“They were so concerned for all of us,” says Lizbeth Salinas, another lead guide with the toddlers. “They didn’t want any of the teachers to leave!”
“In all the rooms, they would ask us, ‘How are you doing? Are you being taken care of? Are you guys ok? What can we do?’ ” Leela adds. “We would always say, ‘Yes, we are good. Guidepost is taking care of us!’ ”
That care began with one-on-one conversations and clarity. The management team from Guidepost first came to Brushy Creek to answer any questions “without hesitation,” Leela says. “They were very reassuring, and they made us feel very comfortable.”
“I only asked them one question,” Leela adds. “I said, ‘What do you expect from us?’ And they responded with a smile, ‘Embrace the core values of Guidepost.’ I will always remember that, because I got out a notebook, wrote it down right there and thought, ‘Ok, I can do that!’ ”
(Above photos) A before and after of the classrooms at Brushy Creek. (Main photo up top) Lizbeth Salinas (from left), Leela Mare and Jessica Reyes are guides at Brushy Creek.
Training leads to ‘new perspectives’
Immediately after, five of the guides were sent to Dallas to observe other Guidepost schools and train with the Prepared Montessorian team.
“It was two weeks of intense training,” says Leela. “But it made me change my perspective so much! I had always just been changing diapers and feeding the children, and that’s important, too. I was taking care of them very well, but they deserve more than that. And I see now that I’m not just a servant. I am an educator who guides the child toward their independence and supports them as they grow and learn.”
Jessica says all the guides returned from training invigorated, optimistic, and eager to get back into their classrooms.
“We added flower arranging, hand washing, and we made our own little work stations for the children,” she says.
Leela adds that the renovations of the classrooms were a significant adjustment for her, but she saw many positive changes in her infants.
“We no longer had highchairs or pack-n-plays, we took down gates that separated the napping area, and, you know, these were comforts for the teachers! And they were all gone!” she smiles. “I was worried about all these things before training, but I now have a seven-month-old in my classroom who can concentrate for up to 15 minutes, and that just tells me that the babies are more comfortable and interactive in this beautiful new environment.”
“Our children are thriving and have made such a difference,” she says. “It’s so wonderful. Before, I could only do work with the children for 20 to 30 minutes before wanting to throw in the towel just because of how it was run. But now, we can easily go two hours working quietly with our toddlers. It’s just a miracle.”
Lizbeth adds that watching one another interact in their own new classrooms is inspiring.
“We work so closely as a team and help each other a lot,” she says. “We talk every day about why we did this or how we tried that, and even if it’s not a part of your plan, we want to collaborate and be helpful because we know each others’ kids well and just want to see all the children thriving.”
Help is always available
After less than six months with Guidepost, Brushy Creek has completed all renovations and is on their way toward 150 enrolled students by the end of the year. They just opened their first elementary classroom, and Leela says “everything has changed” now that they are a part of the ever-growing, worldwide Guidepost family.
“Our old ways are completely gone,” she says. “We use real plates and real materials, and everything is for the right age. Our younger children are now learning from older children, which they love. Everything we are applying right now, we learned from Guidepost.”
And Jessica assures that the learning continues as well.
“Even after the training, we still have help whenever we need it,” she says. “The Prepared Montessorian teams helps a lot, and their resources are amazing.”
Lizbeth says they return to the Prepared Montessorian videos at least once a week.
“And we no longer fear whether we are doing something wrong, because we can just watch the video and be like, ‘Ok, this is exactly how I should show the student!’ We trust that there is always somebody there to help us.”
“Guidepost took the time to teach us,” Jessica adds. “In any of our jobs, we never had that before.”
Happy teachers, happy families
Not only do the guides at Brushy Creek feel empowered, the parents have noticed a positive change in the school as well and are delighted to keep the school’s family together.
“We have parents in our Nido classroom wanting to use highchairs less or wanting to buy smaller tables and chairs for their home, because that’s what their child does at school,” says Leela. “And that’s great! We want to empower our parents as much as possible.
“Whenever something new happens in the classroom, we get excited, we are excited about Guidepost, and that makes our parents happy. They will say to us, ‘Are you happy? Are you doing well? Ok, then we are happy, too!’ ”
Leela says she not only feels like their school is “a million times better,” but that everyone now feels taken care of and a part of something special.
“We have always had this heart,” Leela says. “We love our children, and we are all hard workers. We brought that to Guidepost. But Guidepost gave us the knowledge and the support we needed. We love it so much.”
To learn more, visit Guidepost Montessori at Brushy Creek.