SANTA FE SPRINGS, Calif. — When Governor Newsom required students to start this school year learning online, many working parents were faced with a difficult decision: stay home and help their children or keep working and pay a lot more for childcare.
But the owners of All Star Cable Company in Santa Fe Springs refused to make their 14 employees choose.
It’s the start of another week at the small business and like any office, you can find staff busy checking off their to-do lists.
But what you don’t see every day is a classroom steps away where their kids, like Sophia are hard at work, too.
“I go on Zoom and then have three different meetings," said 7-year-old Sophia Wise.
Sophia is in second grade. Her meetings are with her teacher virtually, but she says that’s the biggest difference between this classroom and her last one.
"It feels like the same thing as my old school," Sophia explained.
That was the goal for Mary Venegas who owns All Star Cable Company. When one of her employees came to her ready to quit because of distance learning, Mary had to come up with a plan, realizing most of her employees are parents.
“I would have lost a very good employee because she didn’t have childcare for her 5 and 7-year-old," Venegas said. "So for me, this just made sense.”
Mary went to work, transforming her sales office into All Star School House. She left no stone unturned - little desks, chairs and most importantly, hired a teacher, teaching assistant and even a tutor for the two high school students.
“So the teacher and the T.A., their job is to make sure that the kids are doing their school curriculum, the one that they were provided with," said Venegas.
Of course, when you put six 5 and 7 year olds in a schoolroom together, they’re going to get restless! Recess is crucial.
"We’re coming out to the warehouse!!!" Venegas said to her crew on the walkie talkie. "We don’t want anybody to get ran over with a forklift, so we bought walkie talkies and every time the kids are gonna come out to play we notify the warehouse manager [that] kids [are] in the warehouse and they turn all warehouse machinery off.”
She makes it look easy, but Venegas estimates she’s already spent about $11,000 to put this all together. She does get a little help from her employees who pitch in $25 per child, per week.
It's a small price to pay for a big blessing according to the mom who considered quitting. Vivian Ruan can now focus on being a great employee.
“It was up in the air, like am I gonna stop working? What are we gonna do? We didn’t have anybody to take care of the kids for us," Ruan explained. "So I brought up my concerns to Mary and Kenny and I’m so grateful that they’ve done this for us.”
Grateful that her 5 and 7 year old are just a short walk to the next room, still getting a quality education, while having so much fun, little Sophia said she doesn’t even want to go back to her former classroom.