Meet Jillian Hernandez, the owner of The Brunswick School, which accepts children from 6 months through Kindergarten.
Jillian Hernandez from The Brunswick School
JCF: Tell me about yourself. What’s your background?
Jillian Hernandez: I guess I’m Jersey through and through. I grew up in Hudson County. I went to school at Rutgers, got my MBA there. My background is in Human Resources — I have about 15 years experience in the field.
JCF: Running a school seems like a big change!
Jillian Hernandez: When I told my ex-employer what I was planning on doing, they were all shocked. But it’s a beautiful business to be in. I saw the tremendous need in this area for quality preschools and I knew with my passion for education and commitment to the community, I would do a great job.
JCF: Did you do a lot of work to the building?
Jillian Hernandez: This was already school – it was a preschool until June 2014. We started construction in July of 2014, opened in July 2015. This building was created in the 1950s. They don’t build them like this anymore. My dad was the general contractor and I always say he put a lot of love into renovating this school. We definitely have a homey vibe and it’s because of the people who built and who help run it.
JCF: The babies are so cute. How old are the little ones?
Jillian Hernandez: Six months to six years old. Once a child turns six months, they’ve updated their repertoire. It’s kind of fun. At 6 months, most children are able to sit up on their own. They are eating purees, our chef purees fresh organic fruits and vegetables.
JCF: Did you say chef?
Jillian Hernandez: Yes. Our chef is Busy Bee Organics (busybeeorganics.com). I believe in providing healthy, organic, well-balanced meals for children. You can make such an impact on their palates — clean food makes for clean palates. We have whole grain mac and cheese, homemade pizza, our snacks are usually a fruit or vegetable – whatever’s fresh and in season. It tastes delicious. We also offer vegetarian options.
JCF: Is there a particular curriculum you follow?
Jillian Hernandez: We’re loosely based on the creative curriculum – we use music, dance, movement. We have certified instructors who come to the school and teach yoga once a week, zumba once a week… My director and teachers all help develop the lesson plans and individualize them as necessary for the children – we all make a good team!
JCF: Do they get outside?
Jillian Hernandez: We have a great outdoor play area and garden area. While we have great parks in Jersey City, it’s more convenient and safer to stay on our property.
JCF: Tell me about the teachers. What makes them fantastic?
Jillian Hernandez: So many things. They know how to adjust the curriculum based on each child. They’re caring and nurturing. Children need love and compassion. Also all our head teachers have at least a Bachelors degree in early education or related field. Many of them are even striving towards their masters. The important element is that they all have a real passion for their profession.
JCF: Sounds like you have a great thing going here. What advice would you give your younger self?
Jillian Hernandez: Look at every opportunity as a stepping stone. Don’t take anything for granted. It will all make sense some day.