Every move matters when you’re paving the way
Women face unique challenges and barriers as they work to pursue their dreams. That’s why The Greenhouse and the St. Pete community are dedicated to supporting business owners this Women’s Small Business Month and every day with impactful resources for entrepreneurs, dedicated support, community partnerships and more.
For Women’s Small Business Month, we’re highlighting women entrepreneurs who pursued their dreams of launching a business and found success through dedication and hard work, like Jenifer McKee, founder and owner of Academy of Learning, Inc.
This week we are pleased to highlight clients within our child care provider industry. The economic impact of child care matters because they help drive our local economy. When parents can access child care, they are more likely to enter the workforce and stay employed; ESPECIALLY when our community has amazing and professional providers that go above and beyond to ensure parents are left with the peace of mind that their children are safe and well cared for. These St. Pete women owned businesses keep St. Pete IN BUSINESS!
Meet Jenifer McKee with Academy of Learning
GH: Tell us a little about yourself and your business!
JM: I have owned and operated Academy of Learning, Inc. since May 1980. I have three adult children, who grew up around the preschool and have worked at the business on occasion over the years. My late husband and I partnered together to offer a high-quality early learning experience to our area. I have a BA degree in Elementary Education from the University of Florida and am continuing my education through on-line classes.
GH: What inspired you to start your business?
JM: As a student at University of Florida, I worked summers at a local preschool and fell in love with this age. After graduation, I taught 1st and 3rd grade but found that my true passion was early childhood!
GH: What was it like starting your business for the first time?
JM: Scary, exciting, overwhelming! Because we were purchasing an existing school, we were not able to be on site during business hours prior to the completion of the sale. However, it didn’t take long on that first morning to feel very comfortable and confident. Meeting our children and families was very exciting. We are still in touch with many of the children from then and we are serving some of their children now!
GH: What is your experience being an entrepreneur in St. Pete?
JM: I have found being in the Early Care and Education field in St. Petersburg is wonderful. The majority of owners are women and we have formed supportive relationships with each other.
GH: What advice would you give to other women who are looking to build their businesses?
JM: Reach out to other like businesses and try to partner with them. Don’t worry about competition.
GH: What are your future goals/plans for Academy of Learning?
JM: Over the years I have become very interested in Nature Based play. My goal is to bring the concept to my school. We are hoping to raise funds and have volunteers help us develop our play area into an outdoor classroom. We have also been approved to use some of our revitalization grants for this project. We learned how important outside activities were during the Covid years. I would love to offer children the opportunity to play in mud, learn about native plants and enjoy the beauty of the great outdoors.
MORE ABOUT ACADEMY OF LEARNING
Academy of Learning, Inc is a Gold Seal Accredited Program and family owned and operated for 40 years.
555 40th Street North
St. Petersburg, FL. 33713