Early education and child care franchise Lightbridge Academy is expanding their reach into new territories this year. With 41 open centers and more than 70 locations in development, the brand’s growth is due in large part to the uniquely qualified franchisees it attracts.
Becky and Brian Grovenstein are two such franchisees—as well as Lightbridge Academy’s first owners in the state of North Carolina.
Born and raised in Alexandria, Virginia, Becky Grovenstein had a childhood rich with American history. “I’d often jog by Mount Vernon, the home of our first president. I’ve been to every battlefield up and down the Eastern Seaboard and I could give a tour of Gettysburg,” said Grovenstein, whose father was also a history buff. “You need to know where you came from in order to know where you’re going.”
Grovenstein had family in North Carolina so she visited the state frequently; it was no surprise when she decided to attend East Carolina University in Greenville. It was in college that she met her future husband, Brian.
“We were the two coolest kids you’d ever find in marching band,” laughed Grovenstein. “He was on the snare line, and I played the clarinet.”
The couple was forever bonded by the camaraderie and sense of striving toward a common goal within the band. “You may have a leader, but they are only as powerful as the people working with them,” explained Grovenstein. “It was a family, and we all worked together.”
Becky Grovenstein earned her degree in music education, while Brian received a degree in information and computer technology with a business minor. “Between the two of us, we have a yin and yang that works really well as part of the Lightbridge Academy family,” explained Grovenstein.
Now the parents of two young daughters—Hope, age six, and Julia Grace, age two—the Grovensteins have begun passing down their shared love of music at home. “Julia Grace loves to chit-chat, but when we started singing songs all the time, she learned even more words. It’s true that we sing before we talk and we dance before we walk,” said Grovenstein.
Despite thinking she would become a middle school band director, it wasn’t long before Grovenstein found her true calling in elementary education through substitute teaching for a friend’s class. “I realized how much I love teaching young children,” she said. “I can influence them at a really cool point in their lives, helping them learn the difference between right and wrong and how to problem-solve.”
A few years ago, however, Grovenstein’s job security was on shaky ground. She said that as the state legislature worked through the school system’s budget, it considered cutting programs such as art, physical education and music in favor of smaller class sizes and more teacher attention for subjects like English, math and science.
Those conversations are something the state is still working through, according to Grovenstein, but a good balance between electives and core subjects has been struck. “The beautiful part of that problem was that it got us thinking—what were we going to do?” she said.
The director of their daughter’s daycare and a good friend of the family suggested the Grovensteins open their own early learning center. That sparked their interest, and they began looking into franchises—and soon found Lightbridge Academy.
“Lightbridge was it. They’re the real deal,” said Grovenstein. “We love that at the heart of their Circle of Care is the child and surrounding them are all of the stakeholders within their support system that are important for their growth and development. Over the course of the exploration process, this was a little seed that grew into a pretty tree. We knew it was the path we were supposed to go down.”
The Grovensteins are set to open the first-ever Lightbridge Academy in North Carolina in 2020. It will be located in Sweetwater off Highway 64 in Apex, with their second center to open in Holly Springs thereafter.
Grovenstein’s enthusiasm about bringing Lightbridge Academy to Sweetwater is overflowing. “The community makes me want to move there,” she said. “It’s going to be a great partnership between Lightbridge and the families and the community of Sweetwater. People around here are good at keeping a balance between the old-town feel and new, exciting growth—Apex is actually the third-fastest-growing city in the U.S., which is crazy-cool.”
The pioneering franchisees are looking forward to making Lightbridge Academy a household name in the state. “We are working parents, so we get what it’s like to have to drop your child off with someone,” said Grovenstein. “When the person who’s caring for your child becomes like a trusted family member because they love your child as much as you do, that makes going to work and focusing on what you need to do a lot easier.”
“Becky and Brian Grovenstein not only possess the right background to make them outstanding Lightbridge Academy franchisees, but most importantly, they have the heart,” said Lightbridge Academy Chief Development Officer Mark Mele. “We are thrilled to break into the North Carolina market with partners that share our commitment to educating and nurturing children and families.”
As a Lightbridge Academy franchisee, Grovenstein is continuing to follow her passion toward education—and, of course, she’s looking for ways to incorporate music into the early learning program. “I love how Lightbridge Academy recognizes that daycare alone is not enough anymore,” she said. “Care and education go hand in hand with a child’s growth and development. Every moment is another opportunity to learn, Even when children are playing, they’re learning and building relationships.”
Even the youngest Grovensteins are planning to get in on the action. It sounds like they may have inclinations to follow in mom’s footsteps. “We would love for Hope to attend summer camps. However, she has informed me that she’s old enough to teach there,” laughed Grovenstein.
The startup cost for a Lightbridge Academy franchise range from $549,228 to $737,635. The franchise fee is $40,000. To learn more about franchising with Lightbridge Academy, visit https://lightbridgeacademyfranchise.com/