From 1992 to 1999, the organization, which had four schools, operated from a two-story brick office building on Erwin Street in Cartersville. Jo Kirchner, president and chief executive officer of Primrose, remembers the day the founder, Paul Erwin, decided to relocate the corporate office to Cartersville.
“Paul and I met for lunch in Cartersville to discuss where we should move our main office. I don’t remember the exact restaurant where we ate, but it was in the downtown area,” she said. “Paul suggested we move to Marietta and I said, ‘Well, why not here? This is a charming, lovely town.’ Paul agreed and we got in the car and drove one block from the square. We saw an office building on the corner with green shutters just like the ones on our schools and the name of the street was Erwin, just like Paul’s last name. It felt like one of those moments that you never forget. We moved in not long after that and stayed until we outgrew the building seven years later.”
During its time in Bartow County, the organization added 26 schools. Currently, Primrose has franchised nearly 300 preschools in 21 states and educates the children of 40,000 families. The school offers early childhood education beginning at infancy through kindergarten, as well as after-school care through the third grade.
Bob Benowitz, executive vice president of operations for Primrose Schools, said one of his fondest memories of the Erwin Street days was during the 1996 Olympics.
“I remember when the Olympic torch was coming through Bartow County and being brought down Main Street. We had a party for all the franchisees. We all walked down to Main Street dressed in our vests and watched the torch go by. It was a very significant moment for me,” he said.
Kirchner said there are two philosophies used in early childhood education. One says that children learn through play, while the other suggests children learn through structure. Primrose’s founders, Marcy and Paul Erwin, combined the two perspectives and incorporated a strong values-based learning.
Primrose conducts a Bracken assesment of all its 4-year-olds at the beginning and end of the year. Last year, Primrose students scored in the 90th percentile. The assessment is used by private preschools and elementary programs across the nation.
“Research shows 90 percent of a child’s brain growth and development occurs before age 5,” Kirchner said. “Early literacy, math and science abilities are formed during this time, but more importantly so are the child’s interpersonal skills. Most of who a child will be in life is formed by this time.”
Primrose, like many providers of education, have embraced Science, Technology, Engineering and Math —STEM— focused curriculum. However, Primrose incorporated art into the concept.
Kirchner said, “We are going to embed some interactive exploratory projects created by major universities into our curriculum. We want children to have a love for creativity and risk taking, which comes from working in groups or individually to discover and explore.”
The two-day conference will include a team building event and planning for next year’s activities and curriculum.
“Coming back to Cartersville for our meeting feels like we are coming home, in a way. We are very excited to show our newest corporate members a place that we consider part of our organizational heritage,” Kirchner said.