July 06, 2023
Bloom Child Care
Molly Miller set out in late 2019 with a vision for Bloom and worked tirelessly through a global pandemic to ensure her vision of a business that incorporates deep emotional connection with child-led, outdoor oriented play came to fruition. Today, Bloom resides in Belfast, Maine and provides invaluable service to the children and families of the surrounding community.
Photos by Sean Alonzo Harris
Here is Bloom’s story in Molly’s words:
How Bloom came to flourish: Molly’s Backstory
So, before I started Bloom Maine, I was a teacher in a public school and private school in New Hampshire, in Maine and South Korea and Tanzania, all since I was 19. I have my master’s in education, I have my own children. I have Thomas who’s five and Theo who’s three. So, that’s what led me here.
Beginning back in the Fall of 2019…I was living in Portland or in Yarmouth at the time. My idea at that point was to open a place mostly designed for parents and families to spend time with their kids and connect during the day.
That morphed into a co-working space with childcare idea, and I was all ready to go, looking at spaces around Portland and then COVID hit, and I took a long pause.
That’s when my family and I decided to move back to Belfast, where my husband Luke grew up. And from there, I realized that the market in Waldo County versus Cumberland County was different and decided to open a preschool based on the most feasible, the most practical, the most sustainable way to keep Bloom open.
From Concept to Creation: How Molly and CEI worked together to make Bloom a reality
In the beginning, I had no clue what I was getting myself into. I just had this idea and went through all the phases of the process of having an idea of like, “Well, wait, was this my idea? Was this someone else’s idea?” Imposter syndrome. Like, “Okay, hang on. Maybe I shouldn’t do this because it’s not really mine or something.”
But Allison Pool gave me your name (Sarah Guerette) and I started working with you after an email back and forth. Our first conversation was in Yarmouth on the path walking with you and it was such an easy conversation, and we were both moms, new moms with young children and there was solidarity and a lot of, “Yep, I get that.” Kind of a connection that we were making.
From there it just took off and I felt in that first phone call was validation of , “Yeah, I think this is great and I think we should go for it. You should go for it.”
Where CEI was helpful was with all of the things that I was avoiding because I had no idea: the business plan, the projections, the Excel spreadsheets, which are just lovely to look at. And just the nitty gritty financial details that weren’t necessarily why I was presenting you to this idea or that idea.
So, you (Sarah Guerette) connected me with CEI lending and from there, they helped me through all that process of paperwork and meetings and made it straightforward and very easy and simplified.
A Place Where Growth is Central and Joy Essential: What Makes Bloom Unique Today
First of all, the space is really unique compared to other preschools. I was very specific and intentional when thinking about what kind of space I wanted. Where do the kids want to spend time and what will feel good for them and what will help them feel comfortable, feel safe and open to learn? So, I think this being an old farmhouse originally makes it really unique. We have access to the woods through a neighbor’s property. We can walk right back there. We have a nice open backyard with fields. And then inside, indoors, the rooms are just filled with light. That’s something that’s really unique. It’s not a commercial space.
I think the teachers also make it unique because not only do we have teachers with educational backgrounds, but also a very well-known childcare in the area closed because of COVID, and some teachers came from that program. Eileen is bilingual, so that’s also unique. We have a music class, so our good friend Hannah comes once a week every Tuesday to teach music to the kids. Yeah. And then of course each kid makes it unique because they’re all unique little people.
A Sense of Purpose: How Molly Feels About Her Work
I love coming to Bloom in the morning. I know I keep talking about light, but it is usually so bright in here. And every time the kids show up and enter the door, that’s one of my favorite parts of the day and just really getting to play with them, being playful, being silly, hearing them laugh.
I think the greatest reward that Bloom brings me is doing what I love, doing what I’ve always loved, but in my own capacity and owning my own curriculum and designing my own lessons and playing more.
Talk to any superintendent, talk to any principal, talk to any person in education. We know that kids need more play and play is learning and yet recess is still getting shorter, and shorter and the standards for kids are just getting younger and younger and younger. And so, it just doesn’t make much sense.
We all know the research. Very few practice it, even though they know the research. So I think that’s what brings me the most joy is getting to actually do what I know is right, but also feels right in my heart.
Learn more about Bloom:
- Web: https://bloom-maine.com/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BloomMaine/
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/bloom.maine/
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