Jackie Astrom is the owner and teacher of Ecole Des Petits Amis French Immersion Preschool. Having taught for over twelve years in the public system, Jackie saw a need in our community for a preschool helping little ones learn a second language. Now nearing the end of its fourth year, the preschool is successful and Jackie is realizing the rewards of all the hard work behind the dream.
Being your own boss can be daunting, magnificent, empowering, draining for those of us brave and foolish enough to dive in headfirst! She’s been challenged and humbled by running her own business but it’s been so worth it!
She completed her first half marathon last fall (and will start training soon for #2) and volunteers with the Airdrie chapter of Canadian Parents for French. Jackie can usually be found at Genesis Place though as both of her kiddos are a part of a swim team.
If you could be any animal what would it be and why? A gazelle. It would sure make running easier!
What is one of the things you would put on your “bucket” list? Taking my family to Paris to truly put their French to good use!
What is your favourite hobby? Running!
What is one thing that annoys you the most? People who don’t follow through on what they say they will do.
What do love most about what you do? Where to begin! I get to be a part of magical learning moments everyday in a classroom filled with sweet, caring little people with amazing, nurturing co-workers.
What is the one thing that should be taught in school that isn’t already? There should truly be a greater emphasis on teaching social skills in school. Better social skills is correlated with better academic success later on so we should spend more time helping our young people learn how to better relate with one another.
What’s your favourite sound? My son’s belly laugh.
How would your friends describe you? Organized and positive !
What’s your favourite song right now? Probably “Who’s with me” by USS. My 10 year old daughter and I both love it. Does that make me cool?
What was your first job? I worked at a movie theatre for a couple of years. Service jobs really teach you what hard work looks like!
Do you have a favourite quote? “The best part of teaching is that it matters. The hardest part of teaching is the every moment matters, everyday.” Todd Whitaker. And also, “Happy teacher rule #11 – Think long and hard before you get out the glitter!”
What did you do growing up that got you into trouble? Talking. The chatty kids tend to make great teachers!
If you could learn to do anything, what would it be? French braid hair. Man, I get a lot of grief over that one!
One word to describe your business? Joy!
Do you think women feel intimidated in business? I’m sure some women do feel intimidated going into business for themselves but I think women can be especially good at making connections, reaching out for support and giving support as well. Women often know that they don’t have to do it all on their own.
How do you achieve work-life balance, does it exist? That elusive work life balance! I don’t think there’s one easy answer to that question. Everyone has to find the answers that fit their life. I’m busy, my husband is busy and my kids are busy but you carve out time for yourself and for each other and learn to say no when you just can’t add more to your plate.
How did you get where you are today, and who/what helped you along the way? I’m really not sure how I got to this point. The start up period is a bit of a blur! I do know that I received so much help and support! Once I reached out to one person they would put be in touch with someone else and so on. I found mentorship through Airdrie Economic Development, another preschool, colleagues and other advisors. I felt so many people wanting this preschool to be a success!
If you could time travel back to day one of your startup, what would you tell yourself? If I could travel back to the very early days of running the preschool, I would just reassure myself that it was going to work out and it was going to be fun. I felt some doubt in the beginning but a pat on the back from my future self would have been great!
When budgeting and building your business, what is one thing you spend or spent money on that you believe is “worth the money”? What’s worth the money when running a business? That’s easy! Great staff are worth every single penny! Amazing people who love your business as much as you do make it better, make your life easier and make going to work a joy!
What habits help make you successful? My habits for success have been organization and a positive attitude. Striving to always be someone who can be counted on to do what you say you’re going to do means people will want to work with you. Staying as positive as you can is a trait that keeps you moving forward and always seeing potential.