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Meet Yessy Beltrán of The Language Grove Community Preschool in North Hills and San Fernando Valley

Today we’d like to introduce you to Yessy Beltrán.

Yessy, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I have been in the Early Education field for over 25yrs. I studied Child Psychology in undergrad and went on to pursue a master’s degree in Early Childhood Education. During my undergrad studies, I became very interested in various methods/approaches to teaching young children. I became more and more intrigued by the Reggio approach and decided to go to Italy and participate in the Reggio Emilia Educators tour. I was impressed and felt this teaching approach resonated with me and my own educational beliefs. While completing my master’s program I became a mom for the first time and immediately felt that the Reggio Approach was the best approach to follow both at home and in the classroom with the young children I worked with. When my first daughter turned one year old, I began to look for a school that offered us an environment that was composed of language immersion, nature, and not academically pushy. I was not interested in pushing her to learn concepts that she was not developmentally ready to understand. Instead, I wanted her to learn through play and hands-on-experiences. I wanted her to develop a love for learning.

I toured around 10-12 schools all the way from the valley to the westside. Many schools offered us some of the components I looked for but were completely out of our budget. Others promised us many things but did not deliver. I always felt most schools cater to the children but neglect the parents. With this real struggle of being a first time mom, full time Director at another school, and having separation issues, I became more and more concerned about where would I place my own daughter? So, with this real struggle, I took on the challenge of finding a location to open the school of my dreams for my first born daughter. I was lucky enough to have found a place that offered lots of nature and a big space for children to explore outdoors in various weather conditions. I was lucky to have found this at our current location. We opened the doors in 2010 with two children (one of them was my own daughter, Isabel). We started with one classroom and slowly opened the second one and then the third one. We are licensed for 45 children and currently have a small waitlist and over 70 families enrolled.

Our program offers three major components to children and families. We are the first full Spanish Immersion program to open in the valley. We are a nature/play based program that offers children the opportunity to learn through play. Children in our school explore outdoors daily and in all weather conditions. We teach through hands-on experiences and never force children to sit and trace anything in order for them to have the opportunity to explore outdoors. Children must be outdoors (gardening, playing with mud, exploring, engaged in various games, practice yoga, music, and socializing, etc.) at all times. This is their right! We intend to make families feel welcome, comfortable, and part of the community as much as possible. It was always my intention to make sure the staff are happy, cared for, and supported. All these components combined create an environment that is both safe and happy!

Opening this school was definitely out of my own need to find a safe, happy, welcoming place for my own daughter and our family. So, since I never felt I found it in the many schools I toured, I decided to create it for her. I thank my daughter for the inspiration and determination she built in me. She was definitely the first tester to all spaces and materials.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Hiring and retaining professional, highly skilled educators is also a challenge. I seek educated individuals who are truly invested in the Early Childhood Education field. In recent years I have noticed that people seeking a job in this field often don’t really understand what is required or the demand for the job. Most individuals think of Early Education as “Daycare” and not as and education field.

I understand that great company culture and staff recognition are also critical components in achieving a high level of employee retention and organizational success. For this reason, I try my best to offer as many benefits and support to our staff as possible. Employees want to feel appreciated, acknowledged, and rewarded for a job well done. We strive to offer competitive salaries and benefits to meet the daily living demands of our employees as well as other benefits and incentives. In addition, our safe and welcoming environment helps staff feel happy, productive and appreciated for all that they have to offer.

Please tell us about your business.
Our business is a Spanish Immersion School that serves families with children 18 months to 5yrs. I’m the Founder and Director. I oversee the entire operations of the school from staff meetings, training, supplies, curriculum, administrative duties, tours, enrollment, etc. with the assistance of my two wonderful administrators.  In addition, I’m an adjunct professor at Los Angeles Mission College, where I have to opportunity to share my passion for the field by teaching Child Development courses to prospective teachers.

One of the things I’m most proud of about our school is the community we have built and nature/play based curriculum we follow. Children only get one childhood and it should be protected by all adults around them. As a society, we are too busy and don’t usually stop to enjoy family time, give children an opportunity to play, explore outdoors, and or simply enjoy their childhood. We tend to be too tied up with competing with others, tend to push children too much too early. This in return tends to make children unhappy and have other problems such as depression, suicidal thoughts, obesity, get involved with drugs and alcohol, etc. Children need time to socialize, relax, and be happy.

What sets us apart from others is our approach and environment. We are passionate about nature and play, we offer a full immersion program that provides children the opportunity to explore in nature/play based environment while learning Spanish. How awesome is that!!!!

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
I honestly do not feel there is something I would change. I think that every obstacle I encountered on the way has helped make me a better Director/business owner and make the business and myself stronger. I have learned from every experience that challenged me and I have reflected on what I can do differently next time.

Contact Info:

  • Address: 9550 Haskell Ave.
    North Hills, CA. 91343
  • Website: www.thelanguagegrove.com
  • Phone: 818-892-7100
  • Email: office@thelanguagegrove.com

Image Credit:
Gloria Flugum

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