Here’s our first guest blog from summer intern Ariana Wolk, who interviewed Grace, age 79, about her lessons for living. Grace learned to never give up on a dream while creating a pre-school for young children. Thanks, Ariana!
Grace raised her children in Brooklyn, where she still resides with her husband. Throughout childrearing, Grace embedded the importance of education in her children’s minds, and encouraged them to use family trips as inspiration for school reports and assignments. Grace’s strong belief in education led her to found a school in her neighborhood.
To this day, Grace is the principal of the school and actively works with the children to ensure they receive the highest education possible. Grace’s early struggle – but ultimate success – in getting the school up and running is a testament to the willpower she exemplifies.
Grace ran into a few obstacles along the way. Despite the setbacks, her desire to provide a place of enrichment for children helped her overcome the struggles. Grace told me:
Do not let anybody tell you you can’t do it. If you feel you can do something and you’re positive about it, whatever the business is, if you believe in yourself and you think you can do it, you will do it.
And Grace didn’t let anyone tell her she “couldn’t do it!” When the building she wanted for her school was too expensive, she figured out a long-term payment plan with the landlord. When the city objected to the use of the building, Grace went to directly to the mayor and got his permission. When Grace found out she needed more education to run the school, she went back for her masters degree. Her belief in herself and desire to start this school led her to take action and build the establishment that still exists today.
Grace’s determination deemed benefits for the entire city of Brooklyn. Grace explained:
It took me five years to get out of debt. But I didn’t care. I got my school. It was licensed and it was the best thing I ever did…If you were going to buy a house today and you wanted to make a school out of it, you would call downtown and use the precedence of my school! I set a precedent in the whole city. Now anyone who wants to turn a house into a nursery school just needs to follow what I did and the city can’t deny them.
Grace also emphasized the need to choose a career for its intrinsic rewards: “You have to love what you do. You cannot be in any business if you don’t have a feeling of fulfillment and it’s only for money.” She told me that the feeling she receives when her three-year old students begin to read is defined as fulfillment. She does not work for the money—instead, she does it because she loves it. And Grace truly practices what she preaches. Just as much as she loves instilling information in young children, she also enjoys enriching herself, and learning new things. After her first initial bachelor’s degree, grace went on to receive a Ph.D.
If that is not genuine love for education and her profession, then I don’t know what is!