A Master of Montessori Education; Exclusive Interview with Shirin Rayani of Grey Matter Montessori for Winner Magazine | BNS News

With a Masters in Psychology and a true understanding of her students and their families, Shirin Rayani is a model director in early childhood education, and an award-winning co-founder of Grey Matter Montessori.  Prioritizing program partnerships and student-family feedback, Shirin has built a program that has students matriculating into their elementary schools of choice; it is no surprise that the strong Grey Matter Montessori school program has been thus awarded the 2022 Top Choice Award!  Read on to learn more about Grey Matter Montessori and the intuitive steps taken by Shirin and her team to earn the well-deserved accolades they carry, today : 

When you do something with your whole heart you are always successful! ...

 Shirin Rayani, Co-Founder, Grey Matter Montessori

Q & A With Shirin Rayani, Co-Founder at Grey Matter Montessori

What services does Grey Matter Montessori offer?

Grey Matter Montessori offers a range of educational services for children aged 3 to 6 years old. Along with an enriched Montessori based program, Grey Matter also offers individualized learning, a calm and safe environment and partnerships with the community to offer programming such as yoga and martial arts at no additional cost.  At Grey Matter we aim to provide a positive environment for growth and well-rounded development.    

How did you come up with the idea to start Grey Matter Montessori, and what purpose did you intend to serve with the concept?

I co-founded Grey Matter Montessori in 2015 after years of experience and research in Child Development.  I was also at a point in my career when I wanted to make more of a direct impact in the lives of young children and knew that a preschool or child care program would allow me to do just that.  At the time, I was also looking for a preschool program for my young daughter and wanted a program that allowed my daughter to learn and grow in a safe, nurturing, and stimulating environment. Grey Matter Montessori's vision of providing a holistic, academic and personalized learning experience for each student aligns with my values of providing children a safe, supportive and positive environment for learning.  

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

In all that we do and with any changes we make to our evolving programming at the school, we always revisit our vision, mission and principles.  How we know we are making a difference in the lives of young children is through notable positive growth in student performance and development.  We also aim to foster a love of learning and this can be seen through the excitement of students when they come to our facility.  Many of our students have received placement at the family’s school of choice including highly competitive private school programs.  Our school has also received many accolades for the work we have done and has received a number awards and recognitions most recently the 2022 Top Choice Award.      

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

One of the most important ways we have achieved a high level of trust with our families and partners is through the establishment of a culture that includes transparency and communication.  This is paramount in any business you have and is one of the primary reasons many families trust in Grey Matter and our staff.  When you can build this type of culture within your business, you will see tremendous growth and appreciation from your customers.  Another ways to achieve a high-level of trust is to be involved and focus on understanding and meeting the needs of your customer.  At the school we are always looking for feedback on our program to ensure we can continue to evolve and meet the changing needs of students and their families.   

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

My education, work and volunteer experiences have all played a crucial role in preparing me to become a preschool business owner.  My Masters in Psychology helped me to understand the needs of our students and provided the knowledge to create a program that is comprehensive and focuses not only on the academic needs of a child but the whole child.  It also provided the tools to work with and understand families.  My previous work experience includes providing ABA therapy to children with an Autism Diagnosis through Autism Partnership, Banff/Canmore Mental Health Services (Counselling and Emergency Mental Health) and many years of work with the Alberta Children’s Hospital (ACH) and Child Development Services (CDS).  Through the ACH and CDS, I was provided the opportunity to create and manage child care spaces for families, worked with children with a range of medical and behavioral needs and led a multidisciplinary team.      

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

Media channels such as Facebook & Instagram to reach a larger consumer group. Additionally, we have used these channels to highlight customer testimonials and positive experiences as well as to answer customer questions and share educational content.  


SEO Optimization: Thank you to StyleLabs Inc. for helping us implement a key marketing strategy.  They have been instrumental in helping our school hit the top page of Google for many keywords.  Through this we have been able to reach a wider audience and bring more awareness to our services. 


Investing in Content Marketing: Grey Matter Montessori has invested in content marketing to create valuable, educational content that resonates with their target audience. This content has been shared via blogs on our website and through social media channels and helps bring awareness to our services and engages potential families.       

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

Grey Matter Montessori has built many great partnerships with other schools and small businesses in our community.  A large part of our program are the members of the community that come into the school to offer programs such as dance, gymnastics, yoga, music, martial arts etc.  These have been wonderful partnerships in that our students get to experience so many different activities while we help support and get to know many other small businesses in our community!    

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?

With any new business comes many challenges; there are lots of ups and downs.  Our biggest hurdle these past couple of years and similar to many other businesses has been the Covid-19 Pandemic.  Our approach to getting through some difficult times has always been to circle back to what is important to us and for our students.  We have always prioritized safety and wellbeing at the school and so in every step we took these past couple of years, we always asked what can we do to keep our students safe?  To help get through challenging times, it is also important to have a strong dedicated team of people standing with you.  I have been so fortunate to have an incredible group of teachers standing by me for many years and it is with their care and dedication that we made it through these turbulent times.     

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

I balance my work and relationships by prioritizing my time and setting boundaries between my various responsibilities. Family time is very important to me and I do my best to keep my weekends for quality time with my parents, husband (who I couldn’t have done all of this without), and two wonderful children (aged 7 and 10). Being a hockey mom keeps me extra busy and I constantly need to remind myself to take regular breaks, rest, and practice self-care.   


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?

We are committed to continue to work in helping children and their families and hope to further build on our network of community partners. 


We know and understand the importance of mental health and in the future I hope to be able to continue my work with children in the area of mental health and wellness.   


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

Make sure it’s something you absolutely love doing!  When you do something with your whole heart you are always successful!  Be a people person.  To achieve success as a child care business owner, you must be involved.    Get to know your students and their families.      


We thank Shirin for sharing these insights and experiences with Winner Magazine's readers.  If you are looking for Montessori Early Education Services in the Calgary Area, we would recommend reaching out to Shirin at Grey Matter Montessori!


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