2019 Entrepreneurial Excellence award winner | Kimberly Pomares, president of Courthouse Academy Spanish Immersion School

Starting the company: I started the school with a partner in 1992. The school originally only served preschoolers. We rented space in a church. The opening went smoothly and the school was profitable. Before long, things became rocky with the partnership so we dissolved it. We had several schools together; I retained Courthouse. The school ran well for some years, then I read a bulletin that had been posted in the hallway of the church stating they were opening their own school. I had nine months to find land and build a building … and it rained the first four months!

Hardest part of launching the company: The school was small while in the church; I made the new facility much larger for future growth. The difficulties began after moving into the new building. I was not knowledgeable about marketing so growth was slow. The growth we did have was because I was always innovating.

Greatest innovation: I was the first preschool to add computers, dance and Spanish. The school did not start as an immersion school. I altered the direction of my school by making it an immersion school and by including elementary grades.

Biggest obstacle to overcome: I was hit with several setbacks. My accountant was not paying my payroll taxes; I was informed that I owed the IRS $130,000 in back payroll taxes and they intended to shut me down. I had a director embezzle. These happened immediately after I doubled the size of the building and mortgage. The school looked like it was headed for bankruptcy.

What or who helped you the most? I needed help. I joined two organizations: Entrepreneurs’ Organization and Child Care Success Academy. With the education and mentoring I have received, I turned my company around. The school is profitable and we constantly work on our culture. My passion is to help children become bilingual so they have as many opportunities in life as possible. Multilingualism opens doors and provides many benefits to brain development.

Biggest challenge for the future: I want to bring our bilingual elementary education to as many students as possible. Getting the word out to the public about our existence and the value of our bilingual education continues to be our biggest challenge.

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