Jessica Spada and Bonnie Smith have a lot in common.
They both spent years in preschool, they both grew up in New York City, and they’ve known each other for over a decade.
But the bond that really holds them together is a shared passion for creating an environment in which children begin to develop their basic skills and confidence at an early age.
So, it shouldn’t be surprising that they’ve become partners in a business that allows them to do what they love to do the most: raising Arizonans, if you will.
Spada and Smith are celebrating the first anniversary this month of their ownership of the Magical Journey Learning Center in Ahwatukee, which has been in existence since 2012.
They both say that when they discovered the center in 2017, they knew they had found something that they could work together – do what they are most passionate about.
“It’s a lifelong dream for me,” said Spada, who lives in Gilbert with her husband and two children, Daniel, 8, and Madelina, 4.
âAfter entering Magical Journey, I knew this school had something special to offer the community with various weekly enrichment providers such as Art, Growth Mindset, PE, Music, Movement and Combined Spanish Classes to a small class size, individualized attention, certified teachers in every class and a general passion for educating young children, âexplained Spada.
âIt reminded me of all the reasons I went into early childhood education and the level of education I experienced in various schools throughout my career in New York and North Carolina. . “
Spada has a Masters in Early Childhood Education – working with children up to 2 years old.
She began her career 20 years ago as an associate teacher and rose through the ranks to become a preschool teacher, vice-principal and finally principal.
“I have worked with children all my life, and seeing the world through a child’s eyes and being able to share these monumental and overwhelming experiences with them and their families is priceless,” she said. declared.
âCreating an environment and program that embraces and develops key life skills and self-help, builds confidence, a sense of community and gives back is essential to developing a well-rounded person,â he said. -she adds.
She and Smith even worked together for five years running an early childhood school in New York City, until Spada decided to run another school.
Fate brought them together in Arizona a few years ago.
They decided to try and buy a school “that matched our mutual early childhood education philosophy,” Smith said on the centre’s website.
She too was impressed when she discovered Magical Journey.
âTheir love for children and education was evident in their classrooms,â says Smith. âTheir program went beyond the basics and included life learning skills, such as ‘mindfulness’ and community projects.
With a current enrollment of 60 children, Magical Learning Center offers a program for Preschool, Preschool, Kindergarten, and Grades 1 and 2.
âWe are now accepting 2 year olds in our preschool room,â said Spada. âWith low ratios and three teachers in this space, we can continue to give this individualized attention to every child. We redesigned our preschool and preschool classrooms with new furniture, materials and defined learning centers such as art, math, science, library and dramatic play areas to name a few some.
âWe have introduced computer classes so that our Kindergarten, Grade 1 and Grade 2 students are prepared for their next steps after MJLC. We have also enhanced and enhanced our after-school curriculum and summer camp program with hands-on and engaging activities that continue to motivate and inspire children throughout the day and summer. She added.
He also teaches young people to give back to the community.
âOur Lend a Hand program teaches children to be kind, considerate and give back to the community,â said Spada.
The kids donated snacks to the Kyrene Resource Center, visited the Feed My Starving Children’s Mesa Food Wrapping Center, and created other community projects.
âWhen you make all of this part of your daily schedule, you create well-rounded individuals who become lifelong learners and genuinely care about the world around them.
The school has also spawned a second business, called Lunchkins, which offers bullied parents the option of ordering lunch for their children even if they are not enrolled in school.
The menu not only offers daily side dishes of fruits and vegetables, but also offers gluten-free and vegetarian choices.
Spada said she was grateful for where she ended up in Arizona, calling Ahwatukee an “amazing community.”
âWhen you have teachers and parents who really care about their children’s education and come together for the greater good,â she said, âit’s magic.â
Information: Magical Journey Learning Center, 1241 E. Chandler Blvd., Ahwatukee. 480-699-6552 or magicjourneylc.org