Children’s House of Montessori on Camp Founder Taylor Walsh is on a mission to bring Montessori education to Middletown. It’s been a dream of hers for decades. Find out how participating in the MEWS+ StartUpMX business program is helping Taylor make this dream a reality.
Let’s start with some background. When and why did you come up with the idea to start your own Montessori school?
I completed my Montessori training before I had children 25 years ago. When my children came along, they went through Montessori while I was teaching Montessori. I think it’s a fantastic form of early childhood education, and I want to spread it as wide and as far as I can.
I started to write a business plan back in 2004. Unfortunately, I went through a divorce later that year and it was too risky for me as a single mom to open a business at that time. I had to go the safe route for the next 20 years.
Fast forward through two decades…and?
And now, I’m in a place where I can take some risks. I found a beautiful house that used to have a childcare center in it. I bought it in October 2022. It hadn’t been a childcare center in over 10 years, so we’ve been working to bring it all up to snuff again. We started renovating in January and plan to open this September.
Tell us about your vision.
I’m so excited about bringing Montessori to Middletown. My vision is for all children and families to have access to a Montessori education, regardless of economic status.
I believe if we reach enough children at a young enough age, and provide them an environment where they can experience and absorb the values of compassion and empathy and community and responsibility, there is a chance that peace may someday prevail in society.
Do you have any business background?
I have experience as an early childhood teacher, both in traditional and Montessori schools and as a director, so I understand Connecticut state licensing regulations very well. I also brought two early childhood programs through the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) accreditation, which works to promote high-quality early learning for all young children.
Finally, I have experience as a Human Resources manager, so I understand laws and regulations related to having employees and doing payroll, as well as things like recruiting, hiring, training, and coaching.
Do you consider yourself entrepreneurial?
As far as being an entrepreneur, I have the spirit. As a single mom raising children, I had to be risk averse. But now that my children are on their own, I can take some risks.
I started off taking risks in real estate. While I was looking for a multi-family property, I found the building on Camp Street that had once housed an early childhood program on the ground floor.
Let’s talk about the MEWS+ program. How did you become involved?
The Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce shared information about a pitch night on their website. I thought: Let me go see what this is because I may want to join the program. I figured, as an entrepreneur, it could help me learn how to launch a business. I knew I didn’t want to get into a program if I didn’t know what it was going to look like.
At the event, I met MEWS+ Community Manager Rebecca Mead, who shared information about the program. I joined the very next group.
What convinced you to join the program?
It was specifically for all the reasons that the MEWS+ exists in the first place. I wanted to learn how to do marketing, business, and financial plans, and how to pitch my business to the community.
What types of challenges did you encounter as a new business owner—and how did the MEWS+ program help?
My biggest challenges were creating the business plan, making connections, and knowing where to ask questions. Since I became involved with the MEWS+, I now have a community of resources that I can fall back on if I have questions.
Do you have any tips or advice for others thinking of launching their own business?
The sooner you join the MEWS+ program, the more helpful it’s going to be. I wish I had found them earlier in my journey. It put me on a fast track. I’ve been doing this in my head for 20 years: getting ready and thinking about how I would start my business.
What are your future goals?
In the beginning of our third year in business, when our classroom is full, we’ll create a plan for granting scholarships to families in need and I’ll start saving to open another school in the area. The scholarship fund will be named for my father, who has been struggling with stage 4 cancer this year.