We caught up with our wonderful COO, Michelle Garcia, to learn more about her miraculous MUSE journey – as a movement instructor, to a school administrator, to becoming a MUSE parent, and now leading operations for MUSE Global as we ramp up our expansion.
How did you come to find MUSE, and what was your first role here?
I started at MUSE in 2012, but it was an interesting journey that brought me here – I actually began my career tutoring our founder Suzy’s children. My professional path then went in a different direction for a few years; I received my MBA, then eventually realized I wanted was to go back into education – specifically to be an administrator. But, because I hadn’t held a role like that previously, all the recruiters said that they could only place me as a teacher. I felt pretty defeated.
During this time, I was outside of an office building one day and ran into Suzy, who I hadn’t seen in 5 years. We caught up, and before we said goodbye, she said, ‘Michelle, I have to tell you something – I started that school I always had talked about.’
A bit of time passed after our exchange, and I was still feeling defeated. I knew I was more than capable of being an administrator, and I had the confidence in myself; someone just had to give me a chance.
I emailed Suzy about my situation. She called me the next morning, and said, ‘I received two emails this morning: one from the movement teacher who just gave notice, and one from you. I saw your resume, I know where you want to go. I also see you have a dance background – so would you be open to the role that just opened? At MUSE, we’re ever-evolving, and I have a lot of faith that you can get where you want to be.’
She asked me to come to her house the next day, at which I was greeted by the entire MUSE administrative team – including Jeff and Rebecca. And, after speaking with everyone, I was offered the job.
After serving as the movement teacher, you went on to be the school’s facilities manager, and later transitioned into a business operations and HR capacity. Now, you hold dual roles of Assistant Head of MUSE School, and COO of MUSE Global. Tell us about that progression, and where you’re at now in your MUSE story.
The year after I started as the movement teacher, I was offered the role of facilities manager. I didn’t necessarily know what I’d be doing, I just knew that if I said ‘yes,’ good things would come my way.
Not long after, Jeff decided to take our then outsourced HR and business operations in-house, and asked me to help lead that transition. Later, that role turned into the Assistant Head of School role that I hold now for MUSE School.
As for my role within MUSE Global – it is very exciting for me. MUSE Global was a seed for a long time, and once that seed was planted, it’s been incredible to watch it grow, and to be included in that process as COO.
Why do you think it makes so much sense to scale this model internationally through MUSE Global?
I’ve seen how much MUSE has grown, refined what we do, and evolve. Ultimately, I see how our place in the world will give children the best educational experience possible.
Having watched my own children begin their MUSE education, seeing how they’re transforming academically, cultivating their own passions, and developing self-efficacy – I’ve witnessed it not only from a professional perspective, but from such a personal one. I believe in it so deeply, and know how much these schools can support the world in education and sustainability. And, to have an interconnectedness with other MUSE Schools on a global level is pretty awesome.
What has your experience been with the Process Communication Model (PCM)?
I honestly don’t want to know the parent I would be without the tool. Particularly for my youngest, Paige, who has ‘Rebel’ energy. Now I understand how to parent her, which is often through external motivators and play. And, witnessing PCM in the classroom is really amazing.
Last year, I walked into a class and saw a 2-year-old give a compassionate confrontation, and thought to myself, ‘Most adults couldn’t do what that two-year-old just did.’ We’re teaching them how to communicate thoughtfully and constructively, and that’s a skill they will take with them forever.
What surprised you most about MUSE?
I was so surprised to learn that kids learn better without stress. They are their best selves when they’re learning here at MUSE, but it’s so counterintuitive to the way I was educated. The norm was that if you were stressed, that must have meant you were learning. So, the biggest surprise to me is to see how stress-free these learners are, and how much it benefits every area of their development.
To find out how to bring a MUSE Global School to your community, please visit our franchising opportunities page or email firstname.lastname@example.org and one of our team members will be in touch.