Saturday, June 28, 2008

Wannegem-Lede kindergarden

Wannegem-Lede is a wee tiny village in East Flanders, Belgium, not far from the legendary Medieval city of Oudenaarde. One can easily search it in Google-maps and find its exact location. There's nothing really too special about W-L except for its unique kindergarden at the northern side of the village. Housed in a small and rather old and dull building with two medium rooms separated by a hallway and displaying a concrete playground at the side, the kindergarden cares for toddlers from two and a half up to six year olds, 18 in total this last school year. I know all about the school and its challenges ever since Rita (my spouse) started working there in 2004 as a part-time admin assistant. In the early years of her work I helped them with their previous century old PC (running Windows 3.11, I think, true story) until a young Principal with reasonable skills of PC hard- and software arrived, and brought their systems to contemporary quality levels, with ADSL connections and all. The school is nowadays managed and run by that same Principal, Bavo, and a young charming lady teacher, Jorka, administratively assisted by my equally charming(*) spouse.

Young working parents are always concerned about how their offsprings spend their time in a kindergarden and headmaster Bavo enjoys capturing many moments with his digital camera during the kids' numerous activities and he then sets up picture albums at a modest kindergarden homepage. Take a surf there and click the button below 'Welkom' for access to the albums. The cutest I found those collected under 'verjaardagen' (birthdays). I know I'd feel extremely safe and happy about how my kids were cared for in a place like this by looking at those marvelous shots. No wonder the school has grown to an overnight success in the last couple of years alone whereas, the first years when Rita joined, the poor sods had to use all tricks of the trade to justify the school's existence to the Ministry of Education as they only got less than 5 kids then to care for. The number today is more than triple that figure as many new parents found out about the warmth, creativity and motivation of the young teacher squad and then started qeueuing up to get their toddlers registered for attendance.

A couple of years ago the school even made it to one of the national papers with a classroom photograph of the kids accompanied by their two teachers. As I am watching this activity grow and success building up I can't help thinking that good old principles of successful management apply to almost anything, even to a small kindergarden in the God forgotten place of Wannegem-Lede. It's all about giving to customers (parents and children) what they expect and want, in this case safety, care, education, parental love, and telling them (marcomms) about it via a simple web-page.

The picture above, showing the kids walking towards a Dutch style windmill is shot just outside the school. Look at the satellite capture above to see the location of both, the school and the mill to get an idea of the area and the environment in which those kids are being raised. Something entirely different than what inner city folks are used to bring their toddlers to.

Well done folks! Way to go!

(*) I'd be in trouble if I omitted those attributes...

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