La Plazita is a true Spanish-immersion preschool that aims to inspire and prepare children to succeed in a global and multilingual society. With a rich curriculum designed by highly experienced educators and training experts, La Plazita’s mission is to foster in a playful way a solid linguistic, cognitive and socio-emotional foundation, structured academics, a supportive loving environment and creative expression
La Plazita started when owner Krystell Guzman’s middle daughter was almost two and ready for preschool. She wanted her to preserve her native language but also be fully prepared for kindergarten. Krystell started a little school in her house with (now school Director) Lupe Lopez, their two children, and one enrolled student. This was the laboratory that taught Krystell what theories work with children and what doesn’t work, “like my collection of pretty little benches that were unused, when I soon realized children don’t sit down.”
As Krystell tells it, “it was the love of a mother to have the best school possible for her children that created the La Plazita, and it was the parents’ experiences with our program which allowed us to grow. Through parents telling other parents about our program, our family grew and the enriching curriculum that has provided hundreds of bilingual graduates and fully prepared children into our community.”
For Krystell and Lupe that’s just one part of their mission – the other is that they’re both immigrants to the U.S. Krystell was born in Mexico and Lupe in Guatemala, and the silent mission that drives them is to provide meaningful jobs and careers for other recently arrived immigrants. To create meaningful jobs in our community for immigrant women just like themselves that, “like us did work full time, go to school at night, and work hard to grow and develop careers in early childhood education. This preschool is more than just a school – it is a mission that keeps on giving to the communities in which we live and work, and we thank each and everyone of you for being partners with us in this mission.”
La Plazita grew very quickly as families were very happy with their model of Spanish Immersion, after the first year they opened up their first child care center in the Laurel district, and then opened up a 2nd and 3rd location after that. That’s when we first met Krystell – She received advice through our Pro Bono Business Advising program when she was first beginning to expand, first with Alina Ball (professor at UC Hastings College of the Law), and then with Dian Emerson (Senior Director Employee Relations at VMware). Eventually opened two more locations, employing 38 people and, in the spirit of our motto “Good Jobs, Good Business”, Krystell offers healthcare and retirement benefits to all of her employees.
Childcare – from daycare owners struggling to stay open, to daycare workers striving to get the pay and benefits they deserve, to working parents scrambling to afford adequate care with no help from the Federal government – has come to define the last two years. During a very challenging year, in which many parents opted to keep their children home, La Plazita closed for 2 months and upon returning, only 5% of their kids came back right away. In November 2021, we launched our Oakland Restorative Loan Fund – $2.5 million in no fee, zero-interest loans for small businesses located in low to moderate income neighborhoods. Krystell applied for an Oakland Restorative Loan Fund loan and received it in January of this year. Krystell told us she intended to use her loan to stabilize her business.
Now that they’ve built back, she’s using the zero-interest loan “to continue growing the schools, maintaining the jobs that we have, and providing better wages to our employees.” As a working mom herself, our CEO Bulbul Gupta says “I stand with the parents and staff who needed Krystell to succeed in their community for their economic well-being, especially knowing that the lack of affordable childcare led to a great drop of women in the workplace during the pandemic.”
La Plazita currently serves over 200 children in their multiple locations in Oakland and San Leandro. They have two schools in the Laurel District in Oakland, and a new location in San Leandro serving 65 children. You can learn more about La Plazita Preschool online here.
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