By Mercedes Fonseca
“The future will bring radical changes that are exponential and not linear – we need to appropriately assess and change rapidly to prepare our kids to what is coming.” –Marcello Spinelli, Co-Founder Amazing Explorers Academy
Roughly one year ago, our community came to a screeching halt. The month of March was a troubling time for everyone, says Marcello Spinelli, Co-Founder of Amazing Explorers Academy. COVID-19 became part of everyone’s vocabulary and part of our lives. We did not know what to expect or how to confront this new global crisis. Families were losing jobs, businesses were closing – some temporarily and others permanently. Many children enrolled in schoolhad parents that were essential to our community and unable to stop working. While many others industries reduced their workforce and slowed operations.
Despite the mayhem, Amazing Explorers Academy was able to navigate through uncharted waters to overcome and achieve overwhelming success! Amid the pandemic, this early childhood development center experienced a hard hit resulting in losswithin all areas of their business – staff, enrollment, and revenue. Yet, operating costs continued to climbdue to the additional requirements set forth by the CDC. Aside from following the CDC requirements, they took additional precautionary measures to ensure their facilities, staff, and children are safe. In addition, they have incorporated sanitizing protocols on the weekends to ensure the children’s health and safety remain a primary objective.
“These are our children,” states Marcello, who spent much of his career in banking in Wall Street.
If we think outside the box, be more innovative and creative, our kids can be like Elon Musk, where both attended the University of Pennsylvania at the same time, says Marcello. Admiring Elon Musk as “the forefront of innovation,” and having been fortunate to travel abroad to over 50 countries, he acknowledged the importance of education, specifically amid subjects of science and math. Today, we recognize the importance of the acronym, S.T.E.A.M – science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics, as a vital part of children’s academic success. As young children, both he and his brother were always encouraged to continue learning. Having held onto this principal, education was and continues to be extremely important. Eventually, Marcello co-founded Amazing Explorers.
Q : Who is Amazing Explorers Academy?
A : It is a child centered approach that focuses on S.T.E.A.M. and is geared toward early learners, a concept envisioned and created in 2014. Convinced this idea would take off, Marcello, his brother and collaborators felt it was vital for the future of children and generations to followin order for children to remain innovative, creative and provide them with a competitive edge. They began their search for top local experts who embraced an inter-disciplinary and holistic approach to ensure children were provided with a solid learning experiencein a learning environment conducive to success. This methodology provided children with the necessary building blocksin all areas of learning – social, emotional, language, motor skills, and problem solving. Furthermore, itsafeguards a child’s formative years and prepares themfor their next chapter of learning. Concept has now become reality. Lake Nona was the commencement of it allin 2018. Shortly thereafter, an explosion of explorers soon began to land in various communities throughout Central Florida! To date, locations have expanded well beyond our local boundarieswith the furthest location in Viera, FL. Expansion plans have continuedwithout any slowdown in the foreseeable future. An additional five to six Florida locationswill be forthcoming. These unnamed sites have been identified through analysis of communities most interested in this niche focus. Althoughdemand is present, challenges have not been without sacrifice. According to Marcello, the governmental stipendshave made it difficult to hire much needed personnel. Many individuals have found it more lucrative to stay at home then to work. “There is an actual incentive to not work versus to work”. It was difficult to find qualified people before and now it is almost impossible. “People should receive an incentive for working rather than not.” We as a Country need to have a deeper and more profound importance on education. Studies, such as James Heckman from the University of Chicago have evidenced based statistics demonstrating the reduction in crime, increase in graduation rates, improvement in IQ and many otherbenefits. These children are our future leaders. Let’s invest in a foundation that will allow them to compete with the changes of tomorrow.
Prior to the pandemic, Marcello was closely monitoring the industry as pre-pandemic reports indicated a 3-4% failure rate. Government pandemic numbers were closer to a 50% failure rate,which posed a great challenge for Marcello and his team. Like many others, they didn’t know what the future would bring. He moved quickly, gathered his management team, and consulted once againwith local experts. This time, on the social-emotional impact this would have on children. Throughout many discussions, it became evident that any disruption in a child’s learning would be detrimental to a child’s development. The suggestion they receivedwas the approach chosen: to maintain a routine and provide consistency for the kids. The social aspect is as equally important as the social-emotional component of a child’s learning environment. They remained open. Albeit, parents continue to be concerned and are delaying enrollment. However, despite the increase in operating costs, Marcello and his team continue to closely monitor their core standards to ensure they do not compromise the quality of their educational focus. In addition, continuous training in curriculum and providing enrichment programs to teachers is vital to the success of all.
Learn more about Amazing Explorers Academy at aexplorers.com