The law firm of Moore Ingram Johnson & Steele opened a school for employees’ children during the COVID crisis.
Partner William R Johnson said when the COVID-19 crisis hit in the spring, the law firm immediately shifted to offering flexible hours for employees. The idea at the time was to just get through until the usual summer break. The hope was school would reopen in late summer, as usual, and things could return to normal.
When that did not happen, the law firm senior staff sat down to determine the next best steps for the staff. They decided an in-house school was the right thing to do.
“We came up with an idea to put a school here. We have eight or nine kids, mostly children from the staff. We have two teachers who had prior teaching experience who follow the programs of the various schools the students normally attend,” Mr. Johnson said.
The attorneys saw how the staff, and even their own families, struggled to keep their children’s education current during the school shutdown. They also saw the concern parents had for everyone’s safety.
“Along with the education aspect, we had other concerns to be addressed. The children’s safety, of course, was paramount. We had to have a place where the kids could be taught and be secure. With a little re-arranging, we made space in the building,” Mr. Johnson said. “Next, we wanted to make it as financially as easy as we could. Our in-house school is free to the families.”
Because the children are in the same building as the staffers, parents feel secure. Mr. Johnson said that alone is reason enough to offer the school.
School is not an all-day event like the work the staff puts in. That meant the students needed some kind of after-school program, which the law firm also provided. Children stay until their parents are done and they all go home together.
“To hear the kids in the classroom giggling and having a good time, that just does the heart good. These children are learning, they are safe, they are having a good time and their parents are happy,” Mr. Johnson said. “It just cannot get any better.”
While the senior partners came up with the idea, HR Director Catherine Larkins put the program together.
“She certainly gets the credit for making it run. She has done an amazing job in finding teachers, getting things organized and making sure it keeps running like it is supposed to,” the attorney said. “If you are looking at doing something like this, Catherine has the experience and the ideas. She will give you advice about what worked, what didn’t and how to keep moving forward.”
For more information about the school and ideas on how to start one in a business, call 770-429-1499.