Coming from a family of teachers, Dr. Alissa Gardenhire has always had a passion for education. She attended Harvard University where she taught and earned a Doctorate in Urban Planning in 2000. For the last 15 years, Gardenhire has been working in New York City as an education policy researcher. As if that didn’t keep her busy enough, Gardenhire’s entrepreneurial spirit led her to many side businesses over the years, from becoming a certified life coach to running a school dance business with her sixth-grade son.
This year, Gardenhire decided it was time to combine her passions into one business, so she began looking for franchising opportunities. Through her research, education opportunities always topped her list, but there was one brand that really stuck out to her: Best in Class Education Center.
“As a researcher, I spent a lot of time digging into various opportunities, and Best in Class was on the top of my list.” Gardenhire said. “What really sealed the deal was the personal attention I was getting from the corporate team throughout the process. Hao Lam, the CEO and founder, took the time to meet me in person while he was on the east coast, and we really connected. While I’m taking a risk by investing in my own business, I ultimately decided to go with my gut, which kept leading me to Best in Class.”
Gardenhire, who is set to open her first center in South Orange, New Jersey, is also the 11th franchisee to take advantage of the brand’s Teacher Incentive Program, which helps passionate educators join the Best in Class franchise team by reducing the franchise fee for each of the first three centers they open by $3,000. Best in Class also waives royalties for the first three months a center is open. The program was created in 2014 and is available for those that are credentialed educators, state-certified teachers (retired or active), licensed childcare professionals, college educators and educators employed at an accredited K through 12 institution.
“Our Teacher Incentive Program is really important to us because we want to find potential investors who have experience in teaching and share our values of helping students achieve their personal best,” said Sharon Peterson, director of franchise sales at Best in Class. “Plus, the program helps franchisees save money on the front end of their investment, which can help during those early days of opening a franchise. It’s a win-win for both parties.”
With two other successful Best in Class centers located nearby in Moorestown and Princeton, New Jersey remains a top priority for further development for the supplemental education leader. The brand could open at least 75-100 centers throughout the state, with its first focus being on Newark, Edison and Princeton.
Best in Class’ rapid and strategic growth has earned the brand a coveted spot on this year’s Inc. 5000 list, an annual ranking of the fastest-growing businesses in the United States. Combined with the strong curriculum and focus on coaching students through supplemental and remedial core education, the brand’s growth is virtually unlimited.
“We have a vision to serve kids across the entire state of New Jersey, and Alissa is an excellent asset to help fuel that expansion,” said Lam. “There is a real need out there for our one-of-a-kind, customizable education programs, and we believe that our genuine passion will allow us to continue growing quickly throughout the state and beyond.