Adriana founded Jardín de Niños Interlingua, the Austin, Texas Spanish Immersion Day school, in 2007 with 20 preschool students. Since then, the school has undergone rapid growth from enrollment and staffing to the addition of higher grade levels, new amenities and a third Austin area location in Lakeway. Rodriguez was born in Mexico City and moved to Austin in 1999. Adriana’s first job was as a Spanish teacher. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Development from Santa Teresa de Jesus College “La Florida” and a Master’s Degree in Educational Development from National Pedagogical University in Mexico City. Her thesis was based on the social constructive method and cooperative learning – how children learn from one another. Rodriguez has obtained her Administration License in both PYP Administration Category 1 and Category 2 Certifications. She is currently in the process of obtaining a 2nd Master’s Degree in Education. Rodriguez is married with two amazing children, Leo and Jasmine.
What are you working on right now?
I am currently working on getting JDNI accredited with the International Baccalaureate. Jardin de Ninos has become an official candidate school and we are expecting the authorization visit in 2013. I’m also working on a second Master’s degree in Education, and, finally, opening our third location by January of 2013!
Where did the idea for Jardin come from?
I worked for international schools for many years and I strongly believe that multicultural education transforms the world of children and their families. My inspiration and motivation to succeed has always been my father, who instilled in me the belief that ‘Education is a transformation of the world.’ I have seen my father, the undersecretary of education in Mexico, reform the education in Mexico for more than 38 years and he has inspired me to lead a change in the community; a community where children will become valuable contributors at all levels.
What does your typical day look like?
I start by dropping off my daughter at school. Then I head to the south location and do a quick walk through each of the classrooms to make sure all is well. I go to the office and begin a lot of the administrative work. Throughout the day, I respond to parent emails, support teachers, have curriculum meetings, meet with teachers and parents alike. Sometimes I leave the school to attend conferences and trainings. At the end of the day, I walk through each of the classrooms to make sure there are no children in the building. By seven o’clock I’m at home to spend the evening with my family. However, I work from home at least four nights out of the week.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I partner with the JDNI community to not only educate, but to inspire self-confident, inquiring, and caring students who will contribute to a global society. These ideas come to life almost daily through the various projects and activities that the children engage in. The students are walking, talking expressions of our mission. To make this happen, it’s vital to have a strong partnership with parents, staff and a diverse community.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
A trend that excites me is the growth in cross-cultural business. Another area – perhaps not a trend, but a growing acceptance – is how more and more public schools are incorporating the option to learn a second language at the elementary level.
I’ve had the opportunity to work with trilingual speakers in this progressively global economy. This has moved me to provide an institution where children not only learn about their community, but also about countries and cultures around the world.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
The worst job was being a teacher’s assistant. Though I had a bachelor’s degree, I was inferior to my lead teacher because of the language barrier. Funnily enough, this position motivated me to learn English.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
If I had to start over, I would have wanted to learn English as a child. As you can see, that’s exactly the scenario that the children in our school will avoid – they’re learning a second language as early as year one.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
One of the things that helped me was to make a business plan. This helped me prepare for the future and most certainly helped me get through quarter to quarter. I’ve learned the value of always updating the business plan, applying new learnings along the way.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
One trouble area that I had to quickly overcome was the ability to make stronger personnel hires. Hiring the right person to work with toddlers and nurture 6 year olds requires its own skill set which I have built upon with the help of fellow educators and consultants.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
It may be more of a tip and it has been said many times over, but even with schools, location and knowledge of that region’s demographics, is key to your success.
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be and how would you go about it?
I would love for all children to grow up learning at least two languages and to be immersed in a second or third culture. That could make a tremendous impact on everything from government relations to economic strength.
Tell us a secret.
I love to travel and be inspired by other cultures and the diversity of the local people. Taking a peek into others culture and lifestyle is what has made me open minded and is the driving force behind motivating JDNI students to do the same.
What are your three favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?
Facebook – an important content sharing tool and business building as well. We love sharing our successes and getting input from others via this tool.
LinkedIn – Best place so far for global online networking.
Our website – We have an increasingly improving website that offers so much information to all of our stakeholders, from students to teachers to parents and even media.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Let’s Learn All We Can, by P.K. Hallinan. I feel that this book speaks about how we, as human beings, survive by learning more every day, how to be inquisitive and grow.
When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?
I laugh every day, but I the last time I laughed loudly was probably with my Mom when she was sharing with me – and my children – all of the crazy things I did as a child.
Who is your hero?
My hero is my Father — he has inspired me in every way to be a hard worker and it means everything to me. He taught me how to give and contribute all that I have to improve the education in my country.
What do you think is one of the key reasons for your business success?
I strongly believe that if you engage wholeheartedly in what you do with passion and hard work – all will fall into place.
What is one of the personal sacrifices you had to make in order to open a business?
One of the materialistic sacrifices I made was selling my house and changing my lifestyle. But the biggest sacrifice was sacrificing time away from my family and missing several important occasions.
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Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.