A Philadelphia native uses her passion for the arts to give kids the academic spark they need to thrive inside and outside of the classroom.
Tiffany Ford, also known as “The Childcare Guru”, is owner of Little Leaders Learning Academy, co-owner of Stages Community School and founder of Leaders and Legends Performing Arts Academy, which teaches students jazz, tap, ballet, the modern. dance, drama, karate and singing lessons.
Through its companies, Ford provides parents and students with a variety of resources to help them succeed. She has worked in child care and education for over 15 years.
“The biggest problem with early learning is how many people think it’s an option, not a necessity,” Ford said. “They think teaching kids self-regulation skills is an option, but kids need it before they even get to school.
“My goal is to make sure that parents who have children in early educational settings understand that their involvement is essential to ensuring student success,” she said.
“I specifically wanted to focus on the downtown population because there is a great need for resources within that demographic and I wanted to be the person to provide that information to them,” Ford added.
Ford Daycares follow the Pennsylvania Early Learning Standards, a research-based program that uses assessment, instruction, and intervention in early care and education programs.
“We have a state-qualified curriculum that allows us to draw Pennsylvania Learning Standards, which are all the things kids need to know to be successful in kindergarten,” Ford said.
“We are able to assess children using state-qualified assessments,” she added. “We make sure we have our parent conferences and we also make sure the parent engagement is there. All of this helps parents engage with their children from an early age so that they can stay with their child throughout their school journey.
As a child, Ford developed an interest in the performing arts and began dancing at the age of three. Her passion for the arts led her to open her own daycares and performing arts centers, starting in 2009.
“I danced into adulthood,” Ford said. “I actually attended Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts.
“For me, dancing was my outlet,” she added. “It was a way for me to express myself and my way of releasing myself when things weren’t going well. I just felt that the students I worked with needed that same outlet.
Ford Schools offer non-traditional learning programs and what is called a “creative curriculum” to keep young people excited and engaged in learning.
Students at Stages Community School and Leaders and Legends Performing Arts Academy have an age range of six weeks to 13 years.
“I’m very connected with arts teachers, principals and teachers, so I hired the most qualified people to teach our students,” Ford said. “The children are in class all year round.
“In the middle of the year, we do our mid-year production, but at the end of the year, we put all the programs together and do a big musical,” she said.
“In the past, we’ve done ‘Cinderella’, ‘The Lion King’ and ‘The Wiz,'” Ford added. “This year’s musical will be an original production. We will specifically address the impact that COVID has had on our children. »
Ford, 37, is from Southwest Philadelphia and attended Philadelphia public schools. She worked in social services before becoming an entrepreneur.
She is an alumnus of West Chester University and a provider of PHLpreK, the free, premium pre-K program launched by the Philadelphia Mayor’s Office of Education.
“For our infant and toddler program, anyone can enroll,” Ford said. “However, our preschool program is affiliated with the Philadelphia Pre-K program.
“For this you must be a resident of Philadelphia and prove that you are a resident,” she added. “Children must be at least three years old by the time of September 1 and we can admit them to kindergarten.”
Ford also uses his time to help other education entrepreneurs start their own daycares and schools.
“I meet with clients daily to help them create their business plans,” Ford said. “I help them identify their five- and ten-year goals and from there we create a plan to get there.
“The biggest piece of advice I give to people looking to get into the childcare industry is to make sure you have a passion for children because if you don’t, it’s not is not the domain for you,” she said.
“The most successful child care centers are those where management has a passion for children and people,” Ford added.