A Conversation with Jerzell Pierre-Louis, Founder

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Why did you decide to open an early education center?

Since I was 19, that was the career path I set for myself. Growing up in Jackson, Mississippi, I understood the value of education at a very young age. I appreciate that children have to be in an environment where they feel nurtured and where they trust the individuals who are helping them create a lifelong learning path. I know that was important for my development and for my own children’s development, and I want to offer that to the community.

You have said that early education is a journey and not a race. Can you explain this? 

We live in a time when everything is about results and easy access, and I think it’s important as parents and as a community to understand that learning is a process. Much like an accomplished violinist or athlete spends years training, practicing and studying, learning does not happen overnight. And, the process is not without failure. I think we should have a healthy amount of respect for failure because it allows us to investigate and resolve issues within ourselves in order to become refined. Education requires refinement, patience and nurturing–not just so the child can understand how he or she learns but also so the parent can learn how best to support the child.

What are you most passionate about when it comes to working with children?

Providing them with a safe, nurturing environment that places them on a path of discovering their world. I think that is at the crux of learning. It’s okay for children to make mistakes and discover their environment; at Sprout we are here to assist and guide them in that discovery.  As working parents, our children spend 8 to 10 hours of the day in someone’s care.  I want to make sure their care is quality care. I want parents to know that when I partner with them, I am assisting in setting a good trajectory and helping to establish a strong foundation for their child.

What is your favorite memory with your own family?

A white-water rafting trip last summer. It was challenging, and we all had to work together; it was an experience we all enjoyed.

What is a favorite memory from your own childhood?

Spending summers in the country with my cousins. We hiked and explored for hours, often leaving the house at 8 in the morning with a packed lunch and not returning until it was time for dinner. I loved being in an environment where we could explore–digging for worms or learning to identify snake holes because we accidentally ran across a few on our own. We learned to find our way by tying strings to the trees, and that helped us navigate our way home.

What do you love most about the Central Ohio community?

I love the diversity of the community. I was born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi where there is not much diversity in thought or religion, and actually not a lot of diversity in social economic class. Columbus is different. It’s a progressive city with a small-city feel.  It’s a city of opportunity. I think my kids are better for it. I am better for it.

What are some of your favorite children’s books?

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown.

A Fish Out of Water by Helen Palmer

Fancy Nancy by Jane O’Conner

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