Precious Possessions Preschool & Daycare’s Holly Ridley is a 39-year resident of Whitfield County. She and her husband, along with their four children, love to call Dalton, Georgia their hometown. Holly graduated with her bachelor’s degree in organizational business management from Covenant College and has owned and operated Precious Possessions Preschool and Daycare for over 20 years. Through her work and the personal relationships she has built over the years, Holly has invested herself in the community and has taken an active and lead role in shaping not only the field of childhood education and care locally but has participated in statewide initiatives and programs as well. Holly was elected to the Whitfield County School Board in 2001, during a time when the county approved and built 5 new schools. She also served on numerous committees and proudly participated in the Georgia Pre-K Program. She was directly involved when the state created and aligned Georgia’s early learning and development standards (GELDS) with the Georgia Department of Education’s K through 3rd grade Georgia Performance Standards. This new alignment improved early care and learning across the state. The achievements Holly is most proud of other than her faith and family is her involvement with Precious Possessions Preschool & Daycare. Precious Possessions Preschool & Daycare exists to provide a Christian-based, safe, developmentally appropriate environment for preschool and school aged children. The focus at this childcare and learning center is to provide stimulating early care and educational experiences which promotes each child’s social/emotional, physical, and cognitive development. Our goal is to support each child’s goal of being a lifelong learner and caring participant in the community.

Why did you decide to create your own business?

After being a stay at home Mom with my first child for 2 years, I wanted to return to the work force and help provide for our family while at the same time being able to be an active part in my children’s early care and learning experience. Our area needed childcare – most places had very long wait lists that were sometimes years long. After much prayer and research, we opened Precious Possessions Preschool & Daycare. It was just like the motto in the Disney film Meet the Robinsons: “See a Need, Fill a Need”. We saw a need for childcare, and we have worked very hard to fill that need in our community.

What do you love most about the industry you are in?

I love the fact that each and every day we can make a real, tangible difference in the life of a child. From comforting a child missing their Mommy to helping a child master a new skill, we are given the opportunity to shape our community with each act of kindness and love. We get to form loving and authentic relationships with all parts of our community. We get to celebrate and participate in our children’s lives each day, which for us is the very best part of our community.

What keeps you motivated?

What keeps me motivated is the knowledge that the work we do has meaning. It may not be recognized by the world as glamorous, but to me it is one of the most meaningful careers there is. Each day we get to see and love our future. Every day we serve our community by providing a necessary and needed service so that Moms and Dads can earn a living and provide for their families. However, as necessary as Precious Possessions Preschool & Daycare happens to be, our job is so much more. We aren’t making a product to be sold and we aren’t producing something that is easily measured by quotas or supply and demand. Instead we are impacting the hearts of families. We are being trusted with the most precious possessions a family has and truly making a difference in people’s lives.

How do you motivate others?

I motivate others by example and through servant leadership. I truly believe that enthusiasm and passion is infectious. I can support and assist our teachers and staff which empowers them in the classroom and increases their effectiveness. We believe this support needs to extend beyond the classroom and beyond their workplace. Because we are a small company and our jobs are so personal, we have to function as a family and our support of each other has to be support of the whole person and their families. We are invested in each other completely – personally and professionally. Where people feel supported, they thrive, and motivation is the natural result.

How do you maintain a solid work life balance?

It’s hard. It’s a slippery slope and lines get blurred. Just this past year, our family took in a foster child who had nowhere else to go. This little boy had been a part of our Summer Kids Camp and we developed a relationship with him through Precious Possessions Preschool & Daycare. We learned about how reunification with his mother had fallen through and due to no fault of his own he would be placed in yet another home. As a result, he would not know anyone or where exactly he would live. With this in mind, we petitioned to have him placed with us. When you are in a field like this, you can’t just turn your compassion on and off just because it’s after hours. That’s how you know it’s real.

What suggestions do you have for someone starting in your industry?

I would tell them to be patient. This isn’t the type of job that you ever completely master or the type of job that when you do something it’s finished. Enjoy the process. Enjoy and find fulfillment in the day to day and the small moments. Don’t constantly be looking ahead – learn to live in the present because that’s where the important stuff happens. I used to be a list person that constantly made lists of things to do and would check them off when they were completed. I realized that over time those check marks weren’t what was important. I learned that over time mastery of the mundane naturally occurs when you are passionate about something and that’s when you can slow down and really enjoy what it was you were called to do.

Outside of work, what defines you as a person?

My faith in Jesus Christ defines me as a person. I am an imperfect person who constantly fails and makes mistakes but because of my faith in Jesus I am forgiven. It is my faith and relationship with God that defines me and the undeserved grace and love shown to me by my Heavenly Father is what inspires and motivates me to extend that same grace and love to others so that they, too, can know Him and desire a relationship with Him.