Rainbow Station: Excellence in Early Education

“Mommy, I’m sick” sends panic into working Moms and Dads with pre-school and elementary school children.  Inevitably it turns into a discussion of whose turn it is to stay home with the child.

But what if neither parent can afford to take the time from work?  Or what about single parents?  Parents in Richmond have had an option for just that type of situation for over twenty years.

Richmond based Rainbow Station provides early childhood education for children from birth up to age five through nursery school, preschool and private kindergarten for children from birth up to age five.  For older children, Rainbow Station offers after-school and summer programs.

Unique to Rainbow Station is their emergency care program for children who are mildly ill.  For parents who are just not able to take that time off from work to care for a sick child, Rainbow Station offers their Get Well Center, one of just 300 such centers in the United States.  Rainbow Station also offers programs for children with learning challenges and care for children with chronic or special health needs.

CEO Gail Johnson was inspired with the idea for Rainbow Station while serving on the faculty of the Medical College of Virginia/Virginia Commonwealth University School of Nursing. There she saw families in times of crises due to the illness of their child.  Johnson recognized that while their child may not yet have recovered, the parent needed to return to work.  In 1989, Johnson established Rainbow Station as a place to provide for children and families professional nursing services that emphasize wellness and quality childhood education.

Inspired again in 1996, Johnson created The Village at Rainbow Station.  Johnson recognized that children can no longer spend endless days in their neighborhood knowing that the neighbors next door, or down the street were watching for them as well as their parents.  The Village includes a village green for “meetings,” a café for snacks and a library for study.

Johnson says, “When I was a little girl, I came home from school, had a snack and went out to play. Nobody knew where I was. Today, children are under constant surveillance. I envisioned a place where we could give children more freedom. That’s how I came up with the Village, a school-age recreation program.”

Rainbow Station is accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and the National Afterschool Association.  Unique to their education is their proprietary curriculum PLAYWORKS.  The curriculum “establishes standards of learning for each class. Teachers lead children toward these learning goals through thematic-based teaching and through the self-discovery of play. Progress is measured through developmental assessments.”

In 2009 Rainbow Station was named to the Center for Companies that Care 2009 Honor Roll.  An independent panel of veteran professionals from a wide variety of industries selects the honor roll.  Along with the other honorees, Rainbow Station was selected for adhering to 10 characteristics, including establishing and reinforcing ethical standards, supporting work/life balance for employees, providing a great work environment and competitive compensation and benefits, and supporting company involvement in the community.

Johnson created PRISM in 1999 to serve as the franchising operation for Rainbow Station.  Currently franchises exist in Virginia, North Carolina and Texas.  More information about Rainbow Station is on their website at http://www.rainbowstation.org.

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