Client Name: Jessica Clark & Susan DeMont
Business Name: Namaste Montessori School
Business Website: https://namastemontessori.net/
Location: Goffstown, NH
SBDC Advisor's Name: Taryn Fisher
They’re not the typical paths one might expect, but for Susan Demont, Owner of Namaste Montessori School and her daughter, Jessica Clark, Elementary Educator and now part Owner of Namaste, the path makes perfect sense.
Prior to discovering the Montessi way, Susan worked as a waitress when Jessica was little, so she could stay home with her during the day, but once Jessica was old enough, Susan found more permanent work at a Montessori School. That’s when she fell in love with a Montessori style education. Jessica shares, “both my parents really valued education. My dad went to Colby College, and so he really valued having it. That was always number one. So, I think that driver for our family was really important.”
Susan loved Montessori education so much that she went on to open her own, Namaste Montessori School in Goffstown almost 20 years ago. Jessica did not immediately join the family business, opting instead for a career in politics and lobbying. That all changed when she became a mother. “I realized the value education was going to have on her life. And so, I started to just spend more time here and was like, ‘Wow, this was really amazing.’ And so that started my journey,” recalls Jessica.
Jessica started out as her mother’s assistant, but when she too fell in love with the Montessori philosophy, she went all in and received training to teach elementary education for ages six through twelve. This change allowed Montessori to expand, opening the elementary program. Today, Susan runs the preschool and Kindergarten, while Jessica manages the elementary.
What Jessica loves about the Montessori philosophy is how it allows children to discover their independence. It follows every child where they are yet requires academic excellence at the same time. Jessica notes that common misconceptions about Montessori are that it’s either total freedom, or complete structure, when in fact, it is not. Rather, she helps children plan their day of learning. They choose math and language, but they're inspired from the curriculum to go into a study. Jessica shares, “It makes children love learning, which I love being part of, because as long as they're curious, they’ll be lifelong learners.”
Namaste Montesorri became connected to NH SBDC as they sought a facilitator to help them in their strategic planning efforts. They were paired up with NH SBDC Business Advisor, Taryn Fisher, and Jessica and Susan were thrilled. “I really felt like they were thoughtful about that partnership,” says Jessica. “She has a lot of the same values, but also the same business experience in education, so she came in knowing the language.” With Taryn’s corporate background, she delivered the structure Namaste needed to move forward in their strategic planning.
Namaste’s strategic planning process involved Namaste leaders, staff, and parents. The personalities and backgrounds were diverse, but with Taryn’s professionalism and experience, she seamlessly worked with them all and found ways to maximize everyone’s abilities to contribute.
Since then, Namaste’s relationship with Taryn has only evolved. “It has turned into such an amazing relationship that is supporting the overall strength, vision and mission of our work,” says Jessica.
Throughout the process, Taryn has become so much more than a facilitator; she’s been a connector, providing Namaste the resources they need as gaps are uncovered during strategic planning discussions. For instance, when they identified a weakness in Taryn connected them with someone at NH SBDC who could help. “Wherever we need help or support, she's identifying it,” says Jessica.
With Susan preparing for retirement, and Jessica about to take over, Taryn’s help with that transition has been invaluable. Jessica reflects, “It’s been great to have her at the rudder, helping us steer through all those decisions and how we want to move forward. It blows my mind because she’s such a valuable resource, and it is free.”
“The NH SBDC is a hidden gem. The support, tools and resources available to small business owners is incredible. The NH SBDC mentors want to see you succeed and offer their very best to you.”
What’s next for Namaste Montessori School? Now at almost 20 years old, Jessica says the future looks promising, stating that it’s “finding its way to not only deliver high quality education but to find ways to connect with the broader community to realize our global goals in an effective way.”