Today’s blog is a write up by Tracey Urquhart, Principal and Owner of Baby Steps Early Learning Centre, which outlines who she is and how Baby Steps grew from a DREAM to a successful school that provides children with LOVE first and EDUCATION second.
Get your popcorn ready and enjoy this inspiring story!
“Baby Steps is a dream come true for me!” – Tracey Urquhart
From the 1st day I entered my Grade 1 class, many years ago, there was no doubt in my mind that I wanted to be a teacher.
I was really blessed to have amazing teachers that have had a huge impact in my life. School was my happy place, my security, my stability and my second home. I had many role models and amazing teachers that have to be mentioned; Mr. Weiner, Mrs. Shepstone, Mrs. Pappin, Mrs. Zuza, Victor and Derryn Randal, Mrs. Lamont, Mr. Naude and Mrs. Westphal just to mention a few. These are some of the teachers I had at Primrose Primary School and Dawnview High School. These educators all played a huge role in shaping my thoughts on education and inspired me to make a difference one day.
Childhood is such a precious time where children need to be loved, nurtured, moulded, guided, praised and encouraged to believe in themselves and to reach their dreams.
I have always loved teaching. My need and want to open a preschool came after I worked at a private boy’s school in the area. I saw how excited these boys ran into class, so happy to be a big boy in Grade 1. Their joy was so short lived. So many of them were just not ready for Grade 1, and had to go for Occupational Therapy, Speech Therapy etc…, thus starting them on a negative mind set.
I was determined to change this as it was heartbreaking for me to see. I needed people to take preschool seriously and to bring professionalism into the preschool setting. I want every child that passes through my care to be more than ready for formal schooling. My children MUST have the edge. I was not sure how I was going to achieve this; it was merely a Dream at that stage, but I was determined to do so.
Seven years ago, my world turned upside down and I was at the lowest point in my life. This is when I realized that I was merely a vessel for God to do his work. He had a plan for my life and I had to trust in him. I have 3 beautiful children that where looking to me for strength and answers, and I was now all they had. This was motivation enough for me to turn my pain into power and use it to fulfill my Dream.
On the 1st of April 2015 Baby Steps on Kings Road Opened, a dream come true for me! Teaching is my true passion, being a businesswoman happened due to circumstances.
Given half a chance you will find me playing with the children, which is my daily fix! I feel so blessed to be surrounded by innocence and unconditional love on a daily basis.
Someone asked me the other day, “So how many schools do you want?”
This was a difficult question to answer as I never thought of having more than one. Again, a reminder that this is not MY plan.
How many children do I want to give this solid foundation and loving environment to?
As many as possible!
I grew up in Primrose in a very modest home. My Dream as a young girl was never to be wealthy; it was always to be the best teacher I could be and to make children feel happy and safe.
Baby Steps is an environment where each and every child is LOVED first and EDUCATED second. A happy child is a learning child.
Baby Steps on Kings Road filled up very quickly and after 2 years I could not take on any more children. I felt so bad turning parents and children away. Luckily the Riley Road property became available and was ideal for our second school. Baby Steps on Riley opened in January 2018 and after 2 years it has also reached full capacity.
2020 is going to be a busy year, with Baby Steps 2 Assumption opening in January and our 4th School opening in Linbro Park, Sandton in April on our 5th Birthday.
It has to be known that these OPPORTUNITIES presented themselves; I did not go looking for them. I strongly believe that things happen for a reason and that we meet people for a reason. Every opportunity God brings my way, I accept with open arms. If He brings me to it, He can bring me through it!
I believe in speaking positively over our children, our husbands, our families, our businesses, our educators and each and every child that walks through our school. We don’t always realise the power of tongue.
Mr. Knight said very casually to me one day, when dropping his daughter at school, after I told him we were opening our second school, ‘YOU ARE GOING TO HAVE FIVE”. It’s all his fault!
Empowering woman is a topic very close to my heart. All our staff members are encouraged to study and we continuously motivate each other to grow.
We have a teacher who started with us as a domestic worker. She is now a Teacher and has built her children a beautiful home. Another Staff member never thought she get a degree and qualifies at the end of 2019.
Looking after my staff is a huge key to the success of Baby Steps. I truly believe that if you take care of your staff, they will take care of your business!
The rapid growth of Baby Steps was not my plan and at times saddens me as it takes me further away from where I want to be, which is with the children. What makes it worth it, is seeing my staff thrive and more children benefitting from the service at Baby Steps. I feel really blessed and give God all the Honor and the Glory for the journey that he has taken me on.
I am unfortunately very competitive and driven. I will not rest until I know that Baby Steps is without a doubt the best environment for EVERY child!
Mistakes are made as we learn and grow, but they are only made once. I am constantly on the look out for any changes in education, development and technology; and I keep on top of health and hygiene issues.
Growing, evolving and improving needs to be constant.
One thing you can be assured of at Baby Steps is that your child will be receiving the very best!
To finish off, I have to thank all the amazing people in my life that support me on a daily basis. I could not have done this without the help of my amazing husband, Selwyn Urquhart.
I am so blessed to have the most incredible ladies in management (Boni Longhurst, Avril Yip, Taryn Koch and Melony Vorster) who work 24/7 to make sure that everything runs smoothly; and Anita Pereira, for looking after the accounts, which is not an easy task!
To all our current and future parents, thank you for entrusting Baby Steps to pave the way for your children to achieve their BIG DREAMS!
Lots of LOVE…
Principal and Owner Baby Steps Early Learning Centre
Tracey has an amazing vision for the children and the parents of Baby Steps, a vision that I can see shining through every day that I fetch my little peach from school. Words are only words until they have been put into action. Click here to take a look at her vision for Baby Steps.