Story and photo by Daniel Friedman
Sisters Genna Batycki and Allyson Tewers opened Natural Choice Academy for infants through pre-K after each had completed years of experience in education. Genna taught junior high and Allyson had taught at and directed a preschool. In addition to offering daycare and a preschool curriculum, Natural Choice focuses on being environmentally conscious. The choices Genna and Allyson made include natural and organic meals, air purifiers, organic cotton for all sleeping surfaces, low-VOC (volatile organic compound) paint to improve air quality and use of all-natural cleaning products.
They also have an organic garden where colorfully painted beds are sprouting an array of vegetables. Children at Natural Choice will undoubtedly learn to like Swiss chard, among other greens. Each day, a cook prepares all-natural organic snacks and lunches, which are served on reusable plates, not disposable ones.
To reduce paper waste, they have an electronic fingerprint scanner to log in children as they arrive and depart. The state will allow the use of electronic records as long as they are backed up and are available when an inspector comes.
The day I visited, Genna had been nursing 6-week old Braxton. Allyson’s daughter Peyton gladly posed for pictures while playing with blocks. Allyson also has a son Hayden (5). It is convenient to work where your children are also at school — a definite perk that comes with running your own school.
The environmental choices these mompreneurs have made are an extension of the lives they lead at home. Many of the families who bring their children to Natural Choice already lead green a lifestyle and families exchange tips and suggestions on the green choices they make. They might know of a place to buy recycled products or the pros and cons of different brands of non-disposable diapers. Genna and Allyson have had parents ask for a Natural Choice Academy closer to where they live and work, indicating that demand is solid for a parents who believe in sustainable, environmentally aware lifestyles.
And yes, they get along as siblings. All decisions are made together and they enjoy being a team, saying they have always been close and are best friends. One tip Genna has for would-be mompreneurs: “Really research your budget and stick to it. There are a lot of things we want to do but we have to take baby steps.”
But the best part of owning and running a school are the pay-offs that don’t show up in the accounting reports. Parents bring their precious children and trust them to take of them. Says Allyson,”You get to see their first steps, hear their first words. When they come in here at 5 weeks, and leave at 5 years, they are totally different. We get to be part of that and see that, and it’s a lasting memory.”
Natural Choice Academy is having an open house from 9am to 1pm on Saturday, Nov. 5. Visit the website for more information and to RSVP.
If you know of a Valley mompreneur we should feature, write to firstname.lastname@example.org.