Happy Hearts Pre-School Success Story

Grow ECD Success Story | Shireen Jacobs | Happy Hearts Pre-School | KwaZulu-Natal

In 2017, Shireen Jacobs, a dedicated educator with 35 years of experience in the state education system, turned a heritage building in Greenwood Park into Happy Hearts Pre-School. Motivated by her passion for children and a desire to give back to her community, Shireen invested a portion of her pension to create a nurturing and enriching environment for children aged 18 months to Grade R.

“I wanted to give back to the community as our pre-schoolers were taught in garages converted into schools,” Shireen recalls. From a modest start with just six children, Happy Hearts now serves 65 children, supported by a committed team of four teachers and four assistants.

Motivated teachers, motivate children

Initially, Shireen faced challenges in motivating her staff and making proper use of the resources she had. 

“They were not eager to change their way of teaching and responded negatively to mentorship. THEN CAME GROW ECD. Together we changed their teaching style and they began using the resources responsibly. The team work is amazing.”

Grow’s free online and in-person training ensures all my teachers and managers are kept abreast with fun ways of imparting knowledge and skills to the learners. They receive certificates which motivates them to attend training sessions where they interact with mentors and other teachers or managers and further develop themselves.” 

A tried and tested curriculum was needed

Adopting Grow ECD’s 100% play-based curriculum was another significant milestone for Happy Hearts. The curriculum reduced the teachers’ workload and ensured a consistent, high-quality educational experience for the children. As part of the Grow ECD Small Business programme Shireen received the curriculum, the resources and the support to manage all aspects of the school.

“Prior to using Grow, our school had numerous resources and a curriculum, but the teachers were not using it correctly. Grow resources are neatly packed and labelled and each teacher has their own kit for which they are responsible. It’s cut down on my work load,” says Shireen. 

Now teacher’s do not stress looking for activities to do with the kids. They have become super confident and handle their lessons with enthusiasm. We have a teacher’s guide and lessons are explained online too. They have resources on hand and prepare on the Friday for the week ahead. There is a relaxed, happy atmosphere. We work as a team.”

Preparing Little Hearts for Big School

“The curriculum and classroom kit make sure all our children are exposed to different skills and concepts like patterns, data handling, sorting, geometry, sequencing and so much more which are skills needed for formal schooling,” Shireen remarks. “The kids are unaware they are developing and learning skills they will need in big school, all while playing.”

Shireen proudly shares, “Our children are confident happy and relaxed. They have fallen into the routine with ease. They thoroughly enjoy the resources and the activities that accompany them. Many parents have commented positively on their child’s growth.”

Almost all ECD owners have a heart for children but Grow ECD has taught us to have a head for business too!

“Through the Grow ECD Giraffe App, I have my whole school’s information at the tip of my fingers on my phone – finances, attendance, assessment, curriculum, training modules and so much more which I can access at any time. All the templates to run a successful business are obtainable on the app. 

Grow has numerous webinars to constantly empower us and also offers mentorship and friendly committed trainers to assist me. They come out to assess teachers and managers which encourages us to always do what we are supposed to do at all times. The positive feedback motivates us and keeps us on our toes.

My school has grown tremendously. We had to turn parents away in January which has never happened before.”

Although Happy Hearts has not yet achieved its goal of a 5-star rating, the progress made so far fills Shireen with pride and optimism. “I’m absolutely ecstatic and proud. It’s a joy to see the teamwork and work being done in the classroom and mostly the happiness of my babies,” Shireen says. The partnership with Grow ECD has not only enhanced the educational quality but also provided the tools and support needed to manage the school effectively.

Grow ECD’s Small Business programme includes: 

  • A play-based and NCF-aligned curriculum 
  • Classroom kit of educational equipment
  • Online, interactive teacher’s guides 
  • Business and education mentoring 
  • In-person training