CEO Gail Johnson Leads Rainbow Station’s Expansion through Careful Planning and Execution
GLEN ALLEN, Va. – There is a spectrum of options for working parents in search of quality early care and education. However, in the arena of comprehensive early childhood development, leadership, emergency backup care, and summer recreation, Rainbow Station has no competition.
Headquartered in Richmond, Virginia, the Rainbow Station brand was conceived and refined by CEO Gail W. Johnson and a passionate and dedicated leadership team with over 187 years of combined experience in the children’s education sector. Beginning her career as a pediatric nurse, Johnson identified a shift that was occurring in society. More women were joining the workforce in the 1980s, and were then left to find suitable care for their children.
“I wanted to make a genuine difference in people’s lives,” she said, recalling the nexus of her concept. “Although early education wasn’t a new field, I noticed a lack of businesses that provided comprehensive care, education and a focus on developmentally appropriate practice.”
Johnson also recognized the stress that unexpected illnesses placed on both parents – illnesses that create the dreaded “whose job is the most important today?” conversations as well as the lack of services available for children with special health care needs.
Launched in 1989, Rainbow Station not only provides the world-class, proprietary PLAYWORKS® curriculum-based learning for children from birth through kindergarten, but also delivers the industry’s most unique and differentiated wellness element: the Get Well Place, a haven for mildly ill children whose care needs otherwise would necessitate a missed day of work for mom or dad. The Get Well Place is staffed by a pediatric nurse and accepts mildly ill children with colds, flu, gastrointestinal illnesses, etc.,-- all conditions that are regularly excluded from school or other out of home arrangements.
“I wanted to challenge a family’s perception of what early learning truly means on both academic and personal levels,” Johnson said. “It was also very important to me to provide the necessary support for parents with ill children and those with chronic health conditions.”
Rainbow Station expanded in 1996 to include a unique school age program that teaches children key decision-making skills and is designed to promote freedom and choice. Within this separate facility adjacent to Rainbow Station’s original facility (now reserved for preschool children), the company constructed a miniature indoor community where children can actively engage in academic activities and learning opportunities with supervision and support. This inclusive community is called The Village at Rainbow Station, and its low faculty-to-student ratio guarantees that children from 5 to 14 are engaged in fun, brain-stimulating activities.
Throughout her career, Johnson has been committed to innovation. She became intrigued by a magnet school that successfully integrated educator, author and entrepreneur Steve Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Successful People into its curriculum. Her passion for leadership connected with this approach. She was convinced that the key principles in Covey's The Leader in Me module could be taught to students of any age, and integrated them into the Rainbow Station curriculum. In doing so, Rainbow Station became the first preschool system in the country to teach these concepts to preschoolers, thus establishing the brand as a place that not only focuses on getting children to kindergarten but also preparing them for success in the 21st century. This emphasis on 21st century success extends to all programs—not just the preschool: The Village, The Get Well Place, and Camp Blue Sky.
The latest innovation at Rainbow Station is the creation of Camp Blue Sky, which will debut this summer at its Virginia locations. Drawing from the Covey-inspired leadership tenets, the camp will seek to present children ages 5 to 13 with a unique away-camp experience in a day-camp setting with a fast and furious delivery of the planned activities and curriculum.
Today, Rainbow Station is nationally recognized as the only early learning institution that offers such a premium suite of services. There are 10 Rainbow Station campuses located in the United States, including franchises in Indiana, North Carolina, Texas and Virginia. In January of this year, Rainbow opened the first of what is anticipated to be 110 schools in China. All franchisees, domestic and international, are committed to Rainbow Station’s vision of excellence and the desire to partner with teachers, nurses, and parents to promote the success of each child enrolled in their schools.
With a primary concern on establishing a solid foundation, Johnson focused on perfecting the Rainbow Station methodology before seeking wide-scale expansion. The result is smart growth and a polished, professional operation that provides the highest quality experience for its children and their families.
“We could have pushed the number of Rainbow Station franchises sky high, but we wanted to grow the right way. We wanted to ensure the highest quality experience for our families and franchisees,” Johnson said, noting that the brand sold its first franchise location in 2000. “The time for us to grow has come, and we’re prepared to do so – both in the United States and abroad.”
What distinguishes Rainbow Station from all other industry options is the opportunity for potential investors to purchase a brand with four distinct value propositions through a single franchise agreement. The company’s franchise disclosure document reflects that the total investment in a domestic Rainbow Station franchise ranges between $ 750,000 and $1,200,000 based on a project cost of $5,000,000 to $6,000,000. An $80,000 franchise fee is included in that range estimate.
ABOUT RAINBOW STATION
Rainbow Station is the nation’s premier provider of early education, school age recreation, emergency backup care and leadership development. Its comprehensive approach to building the future one child at a time incorporates Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, and teaches each of these tenets throughout its programming as part of its The Leader in Me initiative. Curriculum-based learning using the proprietary curriculum, PLAYWORKS®, is offered for infants through private kindergarten as well as programs for school age children. The Council on Accreditation (COA) provides accreditation for the programs at each Rainbow Station. Each Rainbow Station features the Get Well Place, a facility within the campus staffed by a pediatric nurse that accepts mildly ill children. Additionally, Rainbow Station created a school age program called The Village, an interactive learning environment based on freedom and choice where children can receive tutoring, complete their homework and engage in active play before and after school hours. Its latest innovation, Camp Blue Sky, a dynamic summer camp concept, debuts this summer at its Virginia locations. To learn more about the leading early education franchise, please visit www.rainbowstation.org.