A+ Notes from Award-Winning Preschool Director, Karine Edmonds of Polka Dot Preschool; Exclusive Interview for Winner Magazine | BNS News

With a number of notable recognitions and pleased families to provide testimony, Karine Edmonds has shown that she can bring not only students, but an entire preschool enterprise to reach its full potential.  We were eager to learn how Karine had led Polka Dot Preschool to earn such remarkable distinctions as being named amongst the Best Businesses in Canada 2021 & 2022 by the CBRB, the Most Engaging & Educational Preschool in Ontario by Corporate Vision, and even amongst the Top 3 Preschools in Vaughan by Three Best Rated.  Personifying perseverance, Karine has led by example, and we are delighted to be able to share her insights with our readers.  Read about Karine's journey to success in the full Q&A interview with BNS' Jasmine Kara:

Not having a good working relationship with one's team makes any workplace environment difficult. I am always available and eager to support and encourage my staff ...

 Karine Edmonds, Director/Owner, Polka Dot Preschool 

Q & A With Karine Edmonds, Director of Polka Dot Preschool

What services does Polka Dot Preschool Offer?

At Polka Dot Preschool we offer quality learning in a safe and healthy environment for all our students. Our trained Registered Early Childhood Educators are devoted to meeting the needs of all our students by providing stimulating and enriching activities in a supportive, nurturing environment. We have been providing child care and academic early learning since 2004 and our unique and direct teaching methods enable students to reach their optimum potential. We offer full-time care for children between the ages of 15 months to 7 years. - Toddler, Preschool and Kindergarten. Our Preschool is located in Thornhill/Vaughan, Ontario. 

How did you come up with the idea to start the Polka Dot Preschool, and what purpose did you intend to serve with the concept?

I purchased Polka Dot Preschool in 2016 from its previous owners. Before being a business owner, I managed a not-for-profit daycare in Thornhill for 13 years, which allowed me to fulfill my passion for working with children and families. After having children of my own, I felt the need to pursue a new career path in the form of owning my own daycare. With the generous support of my family, I was able to find this daycare to build on my vision. From my years working in a non-profit organization, I was able to bring that experience into rebuilding and transforming Polka Dot Preschool. Creating a safe, healthy and fun environment for children while offering a quality program and service to parents and kids was my main priority and purpose. After selecting quality staff, doing major facility renovations and establishing community trust, I was able to transform the previous owners' failing daycare into Vaughan's top-ranked daycare and preschool.


Which milestones have marked meeting benchmarks towards the fulfillment of your personal goals/ the company's vision and goals?

I am very grateful for all the support we have received over the years from parents and the wider community. Parents have shared their experiences with us not only by writing glowing reviews, but by telling other families and friends. Polka Dot was also awarded the following: Best Businesses in Canada 2021 & 2022, Most Engaging & Educational Preschool in Ontario by Corporate Vision and ranked in the Top 3 preschools in Vaughan by Three Best Rated. 

Which steps have you taken for the company to achieve the level of consumer trust that has been nationally recognized? 

Having worked both as an Early Childhood Educator and Supervisor, I know the value of having supportive management and staff. Not having a good working relationship with one's team makes any workplace environment difficult. I am always available and eager to support and encourage my staff and am very blessed to have a wonderful team at Polka Dot. Not only are they qualified and experienced in Early Childhood Education, but they are also passionate and hard working. I constantly invest in the program to ensure we have appropriate food, toys, equipment and of course an inviting environment for our children. Parents have seen our efforts and in turn support and promote us by recommending our services. 

What part of your education or other experiences do you feel was the most helpful in preparing you for success? 

My parents are teachers who love teaching and who are much-loved by their students. I developed my own love for teaching through my parents and always enjoyed working with and being around children. Studying Early Childhood Education was a natural decision for me, which led to my career in that field. My ownership of Polka Dot was also motivated by wanting to ensure my  own children were able to attend a safe and quality daycare with the best staff, food, programming and environment. 

Which strategies have you found the most effective in growing your audience/ bringing awareness of your service to a larger consumer group? 

I would say being transparent, honest and friendly while treating our staff, parents, children and community with warmth and consideration led to our daycare being highly recognized. We created a friendly environment for everyone, and in turn people were keen to share their positive experiences with us. We recently also launched a Facebook and Instagram page to enhance our connection with families and the community. 

Which partnerships, if any, have been the most constructive in bringing your goals closer to becoming a reality?

Having strong partnerships with the families and the wider community has enabled me to have a successful, quality program. It is also important to continue remaining open to suggestions and striving to improve - these values have allowed us to continue to provide exceptional service to the community. We strive to create a home away from home for the children while they are in our care. 

Are there any challenges that made it difficult to continue operation and that you managed to overcome? What was your approach to get past these?

Prior to the COVID-19  pandemic, the daycare was operating successfully and we were at full enrollment. It was a difficult two years dealing with being forced to close at the height of the pandemic.  When we were opened again for business, some parents didn't feel comfortable sending their children back. It was a huge struggle for me to keep the daycare running with loss of income and parents feeling the pressures of the pandemic and wanting to keep their children safe. Despite all the challenges, we continued to operate and did everything possible to ensure the health and safety of the children during a very distressing time. As time passed, more parents started to feel comfortable to return their children to daycare and we continued to offer the families stability and support during this time. We keep the lines of communication open for parents regarding policies and safety practices during the pandemic, which gives them the peace of mind knowing their children are in a safe place. 

How do you balance work, passions/hobbies, and relationships?

It definitely isn't easy owing a business and having a family with young children. Being a relatively new business owner requires a lot of energy, dedication, hard work and long working hours. I am blessed to have a huge support system, and without my family's help it would have been a lot harder to juggle being a business owner. We are like a family here at Polka Dot and we all work together to support the children and families. 


What are your future plans to build on your personal/ company achievements and fulfill your vision for success/ what developments can your audience or clientele look forward to expecting next?

I have been asked, on many occasions, to open more daycares in other Ontario locations, since Polka Dot has been highly recognized from the community. It certainly is a humbling position to be in, but I am content and feel very grateful for what I currently have. With my excellent team, I am able to focus my attention and energy into making Polka Dot Preschool a continued and future success. We strive to offer the best care and services to our community and aim to continue to do so for many years to come!


What advice would you like to give readers that hope to achieve success in your field?

Never give up. Despite the many challenges I faced over the years - especially during the pandemic - it's easy to feel discouraged. Continue to pursue your vision.   

Is there anything else you would like to share with Winner Magazine readers?

It is an amazing opportunity to be honoured in this way, and I am very grateful. 


We thank Karine for sharing these insights and experiences with Winner Magazine's readers.  If you are looking for Preschool/Kindergarten Program or Daycare Services in the Thornhill/ Vaughan Area, we would recommend reaching out to Karine at Polka Dot Preschool!

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