New Jersey is home to many ambitious and talented women who juggle family, career, and home. A select few of these women are also extremely busy building their own companies to help better manage the balance of work and family. At NJMOM, we want to highlight these extraordinary women building New Jersey businesses, and learn the secret to their success.
President of Apple Montessori Schools
and NJMOMpreneur: Joanne Mooney
Joanne Mooney is the President of Apple Montessori Schools, setting new standards in early childhood and elementary education in 15 schools throughout Northern and Central New Jersey. As the daughter of Apple’s founders and a former Apple student herself, Joanne’s love for education and this family-operated business are rooted in her youth; she ran after-school programs and worked her way up to a director position before graduating from Penn State University to take on the role as President. Today, Apple Montessori Schools integrate exciting technology and the most cutting-edge educational techniques throughout their diverse catalog of programs for children ages six weeks to 12 years. Whether she is discussing the “Whole Child Approach,” which recognizes that no two children are the same, or Apple’s new fingerprint check-in technology, it is clear that Joanne takes pride in her work and embodies what it means to be a passionate educator.
NJMOM had the pleasure of speaking with Joanne about her experience growing up in Apple Montessori Schools, how her affinity for childhood education lead her to continue the family business, and her favorite things to do and places to visit in New Jersey with her family.
NJMOM: What do you offer to your clients and how is it different than other professionals in your field?
Joanne: We really take pride in going above and beyond the traditional Montessori approach. A few ways we do that includes offering a proprietary and proven reading program, foreign language curriculum, advanced technology programs, and enrichment in music, character education, and more. Plus, research shows Montessori students gain an edge academically, socially, and emotionally. We nurture the whole child to their fullest potential and prepare them for success in school and life.
We’re also proud of our professional development and continuing education programs for staff members. We invest in our team and make sure to provide them with the tools they need to provide the very best experience for our students and families.
NJMOM: When were Apple Montessori Schools founded?
Joanne: My parents founded Apple Montessori in 1972 when they were unsatisfied with the available education options in the area for myself and my sisters. They founded one of the first Montessori schools in New Jersey and we’ve since grown to include infant through elementary programs, and expanded to 15 schools across Northern and Central New Jersey.
NJMOM: What is your favorite part about your business?
Joanne: It’s wonderful to see the difference we’ve made in the lives of children as well as our staff. Over 45 years, Apple has graduated more than 25,000 students and built a team of educational professionals that feels like family. About 85% of a child’s brain develops during the first four years of life and Apple truly makes the most of those critical early learning years.
NJMOM: What is your background in your business expertise?
Joanne: As a family-owned business, I grew up in Apple Montessori and it has always been an important part of my life. I started as a student myself, ran the after school program, and later went on to become a director. I took on the role of president after graduating from Penn State University with a bachelor’s degree.
NJMOM: What are you most proud of in your career?
Joanne: I am most proud of the work Apple has done for children. We provide students with a second-to-none foundation for academics that sets them apart and instills them with a lifetime love of learning. I am also incredibly proud of my staff and am happy to be a part of their lives. Some of the best rewards are seeing generations of families come through our schools, having former students join our staff, and hearing how accomplished our students are after they leave Apple.
NJMOM: What is something few people know about you?
Joanne: I can be a shy person. My own Montessori education growing up helped me to come out of my shell and find my sense of independence as well as fostered my work ethic and taught me to deeply value education. I’m also a self-confessed foodie and a fan of spin classes, concerts, and my children’s sport teams.
NJMOM: What can we expect from you in 2017?
Joanne: Personally, I will be turning 50 this year, which has inspired me to stop and reflect on the successes and failures of both my life and career. I believe that we learn the most from our past failures, and can only strive to be better in the future.
Professionally, Apple will continue to stay ahead of the newest, most cutting-edge trends in education and technology. Parents love the innovations we’ve introduced like fingerprint check-in and access to live video monitoring to their child’s classroom.
NJMOM: What is a charity you are most passionate about?
Joanne: I am passionate about any charity that benefits women and children. Each year, Apple hosts an Olympic Week, during which children participate in various games and activities to raise money for the Ronald McDonald House charity. Over the past five years, Apple and our families have raised over $125,000 for Ronald McDonald House!
NJMOM: Who is your role model?
Joanne: I have many role models, but I particularly admire female entrepreneurs and successful working mothers. I would also have to say my mother and father are my role models since they inspired my love of education!
NJMOM: What’s the best piece of advice your mom ever gave to you?
Joanne: My mother always said not to be afraid to voice my own opinion and to also listen to and respect the opinions of others. I feel that this advice really helped to develop my sense of self and independence.
NJMOM: Do you have a favorite quote you live by?
Be your best self!
This is something I strive to do every day, and although I am not quite there yet, I do try to better myself on a daily basis. We are all works in progress.
NJMOM: What are your favorite things to do in New Jersey with your family?
Joanne: We love to ski! We also enjoy going to the beach and going apple picking together. My family and I go to Wightman’s Farms in Morristown every year. They have hay rides complete with an apple cider doughnut at the end!
NJMOM: What is the best part about being a mom for you?
Joanne: I love watching my children experience their own successes and grow into solid, responsible, independent, kind people.
NJMOM: What are your favorite businesses in New Jersey?
Joanne: When my children were younger we loved visiting Liberty Science Center. I also love the Montclair Art Museum and am proud to say that they host an annual art show of Apple students’ work. Morristown’s AMC Movie Theatre is also a great place for a night out, and I love many of the restaurants in Hoboken!
NJMOM: Where do you reside and vacation in New Jersey?
Joanne: I currently live in Kinnelon and love to visit Asbury Park. In the past few years, it’s developed into a wonderful multicultural location for experiencing art and music. My husband and I love to go to listen to all the different music.
NJMOM: Anything else you’d like to tell moms in New Jersey?
Joanne: Early education is key to your child’s success in school and in life in general. Start early in a quality preschool program (do your research) and you’ll be amazed by how they thrive and how independent they become. Every child is unique so it’s important to give children an opportunity to pursue their own passions at their own pace in a place they really love.
As a mom, what more can you ask for than to have a child who is happy, healthy, successful, and safe?