In 1990, the Erwins took the lead again by franchising their model to provide hands-on leadership and a proven delivery model for their schools. They recruited Jo Kirchner to help them launch and grow their franchise brand.
And so, the seed was planted "in the mind of a businesswoman and the heart of a mother." With the vision of delivering a trusted, premier, early learning experience for children across America, Jo set about establishing a brand with an exclusive, research-informed Balanced Learning® Curriculum continually strengthened by top early education experts that has proven to be one of the defining reasons many parents choose Primrose.
For more than 35 years, Primrose Schools® has been partnering with parents, children, our staff and the communities we serve to support and advocate for children and families who are in greatest need. These efforts are driven by our corporate social responsibility program – Primrose Promise – which aims to create a brighter future for all children through advocacy efforts focused on access to early education, safety and quality child care standards. It’s our commitment to giving without expecting.
More than 70% of Primrose Franchise Owners are former Primrose parents, or know someone who attended or taught at one of our schools.
Primrose Schools is not only The Leader in Early Education and Care®, we are the only early education franchise company to offer a time-tested Balanced Learning® approach aligned to early learning standards and developed alongside top early education experts. Many of these experts also serve on our Education Advisory Board which is tasked with the continuous improvement of our education curriculum and training programs.
Utilizing annual student assessments, a separate full-time team of early education experts studies current research and carefully strengthens each component of the Balanced Learning Curriculum. This insures the most rewarding educational experience possible for children and their families. True to our philosophy, at Primrose, we never stop growing and learning.
*Commission on International and Trans-Regional Accreditation and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Council on Accreditation and School Improvement.
Listen to Jo Kirchner speak at the National Business Leaders Summit on Early Education about the role of early education and care in our country's future.Watch Video
Jo Kirchner oversees strategic direction for the company, managing its financial vision and brand leadership strategy while guiding new business development to drive system growth and profitability. Her lifelong mission is to provide a nurturing environment and a quality foundation to help children become confident adults who love who they are and what they do. She is driven to meet and exceed parent demand for high-quality early education and care by delivering an experience that is both trusted by parents and an unparalleled early learning experience for children. Under her direction, Primrose has increased its focus on meeting individual needs of children while providing a creative and rich learning experience for its students.
Recognitions and awards: AdvancED Excellence in Education, 2010; Ernst and Young’s 2011 Entrepreneur of the year; Stevie® Award, 2014; Most Admired CEO, 2014; NAFE Women of Excellence, Community Service in Education, 2015
Steve Clemente joined Primrose as President in May 2016. In his role, he leads internal operations for Primrose School Franchising Company and partners with CEO Jo Kirchner on strategic growth initiatives.
Steve’s entire career has been focused on providing senior leadership and management in multi-unit businesses. Prior to joining the Primrose Schools executive team, Steve served as President of Field & Stream, a subsidiary of Dick’s Sporting Goods, and also previously held senior leadership positions with the Nebraska Book Company and Target Stores.
Bill Pierquet provides strategic direction and innovation for the expansion of Primrose Schools and manages the execution of the school development process. He leads a team of real estate and development experts focused on launching new schools across the country. Before joining Primrose, Bill's experience included Sr. VP of Development with Sonic in Oklahoma City, VP of Development with Friendly’s Ice Cream, Chief Development Officer for P&L Food Services (an operator of Boston Market and Einstein’s Bagels restaurants) and VP of Development at Del Taco. He also held development positions in construction and real estate with Taco Bell.
John brings over 35 years of real estate development and corporate management experience to Primrose Schools, including 23 years specializing in the child care industry. The breadth of his experience encompasses school development, acquisition of operating businesses, corporate and institutional on-site program delivery, large portfolio sale-leasebacks, asset administration, purchasing and fleet management.
Previously, John was Executive Vice President of Real Estate Services for Children’s World Learning Centers. During his 13 years there, John grew the company from 450 to 625 schools. His portfolio included the development of schools at the Pentagon, the National Security Agency, University of Virginia and University of Oklahoma.
J. Derek Fuller
Derek oversees Accounting, Information Technology and Franchise Compliance. He focuses on financial oversight through budgeting, strategic planning and reporting. His role in the IT department drives efficiency while supporting both the Primrose National Support Team and providing support and resources for more than 300 schools.
Before joining Primrose, Derek worked as a certified public accountant with Jackson Thornton & Co., PC. During his eight years at the firm, he effectively utilized his audit and tax experience to serve clients in construction and other small business industries. Today, he draws on his expertise to provide financial service and strategic counsel to Primrose Schools.
John Teat became Vice President of Franchise Finance for Primrose Schools in April 2016, having previously served as Managing Director of Franchise Finance since November 2009.
In these roles, he has developed new, innovative lending programs that have supported the company’s ability to grow new Primrose school openings and serve more children and families across America.
His prior experience includes more than 25 years in the banking and finance industry, during which he dedicated much of his time to creating national franchise lending programs for multiple franchise brands. In that capacity, he first began working with Primrose Schools in 1992.
Annette Heng joined Primrose in September 2016 and leads strategic efforts to foster a brand-driven, high performance environment for Primrose School Franchising Company and the Primrose schools system. She has worked in education for more than 30 years, having previously served as a regional vice president for Aramark Education, among other roles for the company. Heng holds a bachelor’s degree from National Louis University and a master’s degree in education from Erikson Institute and Loyola University. She and her operations team are responsible for initial training and operation support, school openings, quality assurance, consultations, school cost control and ongoing Franchise Owner support and relationship building.
Dr. Gloria Julius
Dr. Gloria Julius holds a PhD in school leadership and over 30 years experience in public and private school systems. She oversees ongoing research, enhancement and training of our Primrose Balanced Learning® Curriculum. She is responsible for providing up-to-date training resources and approaches to ensure consistent delivery of the Primrose model in all schools. In her role, Gloria also serves as a company spokesperson on early education and child development-related topics and writes for our 360 Parenting blog, providing fun tips, early learning knowledge and resources for parents.
Paul Thaxton’s career encompasses advertising agency and client-side brand and marketing leadership for a number of national franchise-based organizations. Among them: Long John Silver's, Wendy’s, Domino’s Pizza and Chick-fil-A, Inc. He now leads his Primrose team in managing national, regional and local brand integrated marketing strategies and provides Franchise Owners with the research, marketing training and support necessary to establish Primrose brand awareness and leadership differentiation in the hearts and minds of consumers in each school community.
Gray oversees the new school construction process, assists Franchise Owners with building maintenance issues, brand refresh, expansions and various other building related activities. He started his career with Primrose in 2005 when he came from Darden Restaurants. Gray also held previous positions with Knowledge Learning® and Kindercare® that spanned 22 years.